Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Saturday, January 26, 2002

Let’s not lose Wallace
in the UH shuffle

IT seems Riley Wallace, too, may have gotten wind about this famous renegotiation of June Jones' contract we've been hearing about. You can't sneak anything past this guy.

So Riley Wallace has an agent now, too.

Good for him.

He doesn't want to be left hanging, left waiting around to see when, if, things are going to get done or not, and you can't blame him for that. If I were Wallace, I'd feel a lot better with a deal in my pocket than waiting around to see what will happen next. Because anything could happen next. Coaches know this, and if they don't, they find out the hard way.

The coaches who work without a contract, who operate on someone else's timetable, who wait to see if they'll really be retained or not, should be appreciated for their patience and commended for seemingly putting the needs of the University of Hawaii ahead of their own.

I admire their perseverance and faith. I admire it even more if they actually have a choice.

But you can understand why not everyone would want to do that. Why you'd like to have as much control as you could over your own job security. Why you'd look at Jones and say, "That's not a bad idea."

Wallace is hot, at 16-3, coming off an NCAA Tournament berth and looking for another, and his best time to bargain is now. If his contract runs out, he's got one less card in his hand, especially since he wants to stay and everybody knows it.

It's much better to be all tied up than to be floating, floating, floating, waiting for the University to come along and save you. That's no way to negotiate.

Nothing personal, that's just the way things are done.

But you can't say that after Jones.

You can't blame Wallace for trying. There are winds of change blowing through UH, a new administration that loves to make a splash, an administration, which, by the way, did not hire him. He's wise to want those years tucked away, just in case. Wallace is saying all kinds of wonderful things about Evan Dobelle (who isn't?). But in the past, he's also stood up and let the bosses know in no uncertain terms he was his own man.

If I were him, I'd want something on paper. I wouldn't want to wait and see.

Especially since his name came up for the Tulsa opening last spring, and nobody at UH -- at least publicly -- blinked.

Wallace already makes a good living, and at more than $100,000 a year I won't cry for him, Argentina. I'm not campaigning for his raise, but applauding his action, doubly so if it actually works.

This is the best Hawaii basketball coach since Red Rocha. He elicits strong feelings from UH faithful, both ways, to be sure, but Wallace inspires passion in the common fan. You can't survive 15 years at one place in big-budget athletics without doing 1,000 things right. And this team, last year's team, show he's not slowing down. Not yet. He might just be hitting his stride.

So he wants to know he'll be the coach here for the next few years.

Good for him. For UH, too.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin