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Pat Bigold

The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Tatupu has
priorities straight

IT'S been a long time since Mosi Tatupu and I have lived in our respective home states.

But he adopted mine longer ago (1978) than I adopted his (1983).

Tatupu has become just about as much of a fixture in Massachusetts as the Old North Bridge, Fenway Park and Bobby Orr.

Mention his name anywhere in New England and it's readily recognized.

He's been seen sitting and chatting with Boston Symphony conductor Seiji Ozawa in the owner's box at Patriots home games, and you can't get more Bay State than that.

He loves hockey, and fraternizes with Boston Bruins players.

Tatupu once told me that if he'd been born in the northeast, he would have become a hockey player.

Despite the fact that he's been away so long, Hawaii never completely forgets Tatupu. The special teams award given in his name every year at the Hula Bowl brings him back to mind.

Every now and then I hear someone ask, "What is Mosi doing these days?"

The answer is, a lot.

He's a football coach and teacher at King Philip Regional High School, located in Wrentham, about 30 miles southwest of Boston. It's not far from Foxborough.

In his first two seasons, he won two games.

But in 1998, the 45-year-old Punahou alumnus guided his team to an 8-2 record and second place in the league. Not surprisingly, special teams played a big role that year as King Philip returned five kickoffs for touchdowns.

Last season was a rebuilder but he's going to go for a sixth season this fall.

He had 25 on his roster last season and his kids play both ways. "That's tough," said Tatupu, who sounds like he genuinely cares.

The job, which never pays for all the time he puts into it, ties into his highest-priority project. The development of his son, Lofa.

"He's better than me," said Tatupu, who was once Hawaii's all-time prep rusher. "He's faster. Must be the Italian in him," he said, referring to the multi-ethnic background of his ex-wife, Linnea.

But, unlike his dad, Lofa is not a running back.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior made All-Hockomock League last season at middle linebacker and he is his team's starting quarterback. Not a frail one either.

"He's a hitter," said Tatupu.

Tatupu said UConn and Boston College have both shown early interest in Lofa.

"They're looking at him," said Tatupu. "We're just trying to figure out what position he'll play."

Tatupu last month also became a pro football franchise owner. He joined former Patriot teammates Steve Grogan and Ronnie Lippett in purchasing the East Bay 1776 Minutemen, the newest team in the New England Football League.

While Tatupu will serve as offensive coordinator, Grogan will be club president and Lippett will be the head coach. Tryouts began early this month.

Tatupu's eventual goal is to coach at the college level or in the NFL, and he's kept a foot in the NFL door by reviewing videotape for the Patriots.

But last summer he turned down a chance to become tight end and special teams coach at UNLV for his former USC coach, John Robinson.

Even though he was sorely tempted to move to the next coaching level, Tatupu has his priorities set, and he's not ready to leave Massachusetts. That's because Lofa's football future comes first.

"I've got one more year to see him through," said Tatupu.

Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.

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