By Paul Arnett

Friday, February 12, 1999

They must go if
Hawaii is to regroup

THEY said Bob Wagner no longer had a viable game plan, so they fired the Hawaii head coach and all but two of his assistants.

Three years later, they said Fred vonAppen didn't have a viable game plan, either, so they fired the Hawaii head coach and all of his assistants.

If you believe in they, you could make a good argument that over the past five years, some of the worst football coaches in the country have come and gone from the UH campus.

But you would be wrong.

Granted, they will say Hawaii is a woeful 12-47-1 since 1994, that Wagner and vonAppen wouldn't know coaching talent if it came by and clipped them, so some changes were in order.

Under closer inspection, however, maybe the changes were made in the wrong section of the athletic department. Not a believer? Well, let's take a look at where Wagner and some of his 1994 and 1995 coaching buddies are today.

Wagner is an assistant for No. 4-ranked Arizona and was a key part of the Wildcats landing top local player Joe Siofele.

Former linebackers coach Mark Banker is an assistant for the San Diego Chargers. Secondary coach Ken Flajole is an assistant for the Seattle Seahawks. Former defensive coordinator Chris Smeland holds the same title at Louisville.

Spread option guru Paul Johnson is the head coach at Georgia Southern, which lost in the finals of the Division I-AA title game last year. His offensive coordinator is old UH line coach Mike Sewak.

Former recruiting coordinator Jim Cochran is a top scout for the New York Jets. Defensive line coach Ulima Afoa is an assistant at San Diego State. Secondary coach Trent Miles is an assistant at Fresno State. And former offensive coordinator Bill Souza is the head coach at Kamehameha Schools.

Some of the top coaches on vonAppen's staff are also finding better homes, including his two coordinators. Tom Williams is joining Rick Neuheisel's staff in Washington and Don Lindsey returns to the CFL, where he will be the defensive coordinator for the British Columbia Lions.

MAKES you wonder, doesn't it? If these coaches are so successful elsewhere, why did it not work out here? Maybe they is to blame.

After all, isn't this the same they that fired vonAppen and is now trying to reassign him in hopes that he will go away and not take his $260,000 with him? For shame.

They also said that the Mountain West Conference was bad and that the WAC was good. So good, they could afford to take BYU off the schedule and not feel the effects of losing the only rival.

In case you've forgotten, they built a women's softball stadium -- one that could cost nearly $2 million before the last pile of sand is in place -- where the best seats are on the tennis courts behind the left-field fence.

This they is now telling us it may take another $2 million to repair the long neglected football fields, instead of the original $1 million estimate.

They are asking for more money from the public, and if that fails, they may even go to the legislature for help. But wait a minute. Haven't they been told that the state well has run dry and that they'll be responsible for their own finances in the future?

PERHAPS if they had followed up on their own promises, they wouldn't be walking around asking for more of your cash.

A few years ago, they told UH fans they would be able to buy any ticket they wanted to at any point in the season. No need for these contrived season-ticket sales. You can buy year-round. They also said they were going to scale the house at Aloha Stadium and try to make ends meet that way.

But they have done little to meet anyone's needs.

No, it's time to throw out they and all who aspire to their oblique and outdated ways of doing business. Hawaii fans have been patient long enough. To paraphrase Pogo, "We have met the enemy and they is it."

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.

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