Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Bass losing himself
in the competition

DON'T call it a comeback.

Well, on second thought, go ahead, do.

Mike Bass certainly is.

"Oh, definitely," he says.

"To me," he says, "I don't even count last year."

Hard to blame him. Though UH had a good year, winning 10 football games, Bass, again, failed to blossom into Hawaii's breakaway back.

He started out fine, a big game, 92 yards, at BYU. But then it escaped him, somehow.

He fumbled. He slipped. He got injured, and tried to come back and play through it.

He even missed a few games.

He fell into a rotation, and then he was fading away. Just another face in the crowd.

Against Alabama, he had one carry, 3 yards.

This was the guy who had started immediately, in his first game as a true freshman. This was the guy hailed by June Jones as one of Hawaii's biggest recruits, one of the best football players on the West Coast.

But like so many of his runs, his career just couldn't quite get going.

He just hasn't been able to put it together, to gather any momentum.

Every time he's poised to make a great move, it seems, he's slipped. Figuratively. And literally, too.

They're tough to explain, slumps. Why something you've done all your life is suddenly so hard.

But now he's coming back. That's what spring practices are for.

Bass looks good.

"I've put on a little weight," he says. "I'm a junior. Gotta grow up."

And perhaps that's been part of it. Bass points out that when he got here, when he first arrived on the scene as Mr. Sudden Impact, when he first set foot in Hawaii, he was only 17. He weighed 150 pounds.

He's 170 now. In UH's only spring scrimmage session, April 12, he slipped off hits and kept his feet. He wove one broken-field mosaic that had defenders yelling out the name Michael Vick.

And there was Jones: "That's how to run, Michael Bass!"

Through it all Jones has always seen something in Bass. Even after that one carry against Alabama, Bass started the next week against San Diego State (only his second start of the 2002 season).

Eminem had One Shot. Bass has had several.

But there are other guys, and Jones likes them, too. And running back by committee has become the M.O. in Manoa in recent years.

"That's why I put on the weight," Bass says, talking of improving his blocking and balance.

"No one likes to rotate."

Ah, the last of the honest men.

So, yeah, he wants to come back, and win the job, and emerge from this competition and run again. Run with the football the way everyone expected, including him.

"What's this, our spring book?" He reaches for your UH spring prospectus.

But there is no Mike Bass bio. The returning starters section skips from Ayat to Chang.

"That's why I need to get better," he says, as the comeback steps up another notch.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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