Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, August 12, 1999

McMackin is a
good fit for Rainbows

FROM now until their season opener Sept. 4 against USC, you'll be reading a lot about the Hawaii Rainbows.

Especially about new head football coach June Jones and his run-and-shoot offense. But it takes a complete package, including defense, to win games and Jones knows it.

That's why I think - and the fans will soon agree as the season unfolds - that Jones came up with an inspired choice in Greg McMackin as his defensive coordinator.

They mirror each other on different sides of the ball. And, clearly, opposites attract.

Jones specializes in the throwing and catching aspect of football. McMackin's expertise is defending that style of offense.

So much so that he wrote a book about it called, "Coaching the Defensive Backfield," now in its fourth edition.

Jones's presence will attract quarterbacks and receivers who want to put up big numbers to make NFL scouts take notice.

Having McMackin around, too, will help to recruit defensive backs who want daily on-the-job training against pass-oriented offenses.

There's no question the opportunity presents itself, especially in the usually pass-happy Western Athletic Conference.

OF the 14 WAC players picked in last April's NFL draft, nine played defense. And of those nine, five were defensive backs.

"I think DBs would like to come here, not only for a chance to play, but to practice against a pro-style offense with four wide receivers," said McMackin, who was defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, Miami, Navy and Utah.

"It's just got to make them all the better. They have an outstanding opportunity here to compete against good opposition. And through coach Jones, who has a pro background, he'll give them a chance to be noticed."

One such recruit who came here for that very reason is Dedrick "Dee" Miller, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound free safety,

"He's the No. 1 reason why I came here," said Miller, a junior from Northwest Mississippi Community College.

"If he didn't talk to me about Hawaii, I would never have come here. It's a long way from home," said Miller, whose younger brother Darryl, a 6-3, 300-pound offensive lineman, also joined the Rainbows.

"This program's just right for me. I want to be a part of it and help turn it around. History's in the making."

MILLER did get a recruiting letter from UH when he was a senior in high school.

"I was, like, shocked, you know. I didn't figure they'd recruit way over in Mississippi," he said.

"Oh, man, Hawaii? I'm not going to Hawaii, too far away. But I talked to coach (McMackin). Now, I'm glad I'm here."

Miller's Juco coach, Bobby Franklin, also knows DBs. He played seven years as a defensive back for the Cleveland Browns and coached that position for Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys.

"Dee was our best defensive player," said Franklin, who's starting his 21st year as head coach at NW Mississippi, which has won 80 percent of its games.

"He was a two-year starter and highly recruited by Division-I schools. He's a class guy and I'm sure he's going to start (for UH)."

Miller, who picked UH over Indiana, Southern Mississippi and South Carolina, intercepted eight passes and earned second-team Juco All-American honors.

"He's a great athlete and a leader by example who's going to bring a lot to our group," McMackin said.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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