Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Jones should embrace
UH tradition

"Some people are born positive and some are negative."
-- June Jones

"I can tell you right now how that poll is going to come out. Because most everything that happens in those kind of polls, only complainers respond."
-- June Jones

UNLESS you've been in a coma (welcome back!), you've no doubt caught wind of the big brouhaha between UH football coach June Jones and Hawaii's No. 1 Anchorman, Joe Moore.

Regular readers of this column will already know that while I have not agreed with everything Moore has said or everything he has done (bringing it up while moderating the mayoral debate might have been a bit much), I am with him in the heart of his argument regarding the loss of tradition at UH. Especially the removal of the Rainbow nickname from the football team.

Regular readers -- including Coach Jones -- will also note that I normally only address this issue once a year, never during the season, never to distraction.

But now Jones is saying that only one guy (Moore) cares about this, that public sentiment has gone away. That's not true, and it never has been.

Reality is, the issue has never gone away, and it's more alive now than it has been since the change in 2000, thanks in part to Jones' own contribution to this recent feud.

The coach decries all the negativity in the argument.

So I'm going to add something positive.

I'm going to tell the old story.

I'm going to tell it for two reasons:

One, the top tier of UH's athletic administration is relatively new, and from the mainland, and may not know the depth of history and tradition and feeling behind this team. A lot of people may not know it.

Two, it's the greatest story in the history of college football. Better than Notre Dame's Four Horsemen. Better than Texas A&M's 12th Man.

It was 1923 and Hawaii pulled off an epic upset of Oregon State. There was a rainbow over the field.

And from that point on (and I am reaching here, maybe exaggerating here, because that is what you do with legends), every time there was a rainbow over the field, the team won.

This is the kind of thing college football is all about.

Oh, you say, that's just a silly story, that what really counts is a slick logo and "the next level," and cold, hard cash.

But, no. The Rainbow is alive. Do you remember? The biggest win of June Jones' career, the 72-45 beating of BYU?

There was a rainbow over the field.

There was. Have you forgotten? And almost 50,000 strong (there were a few Cougar fans) chanted, during the most glorious moments of that game: "Raiiiiiinn-bowwwwws! ... Raiiiiiinn-bowwwwws!"

That is positive.

That's the kind of tradition people hold onto in their hearts, and now Jones is a part of it, too.

You would think that any college football coach would embrace the opportunity to be part of something so special.

"There's been no tradition at this school, anyway," he said on the Jones-Moore talk show showdown. He actually said it out loud.

You can try to tell him about all the great teams and all the great coaches and all the great wins in this program's past. But forget it. No tradition. He's had to build it from scratch since he came. That is his gift to you.

That's his reality.

And that doesn't sound good no matter what spin you put on it.

(He'll allow that there were some very good years, but UH could never keep it going, follow it up. The week after losing to a Division I-AA team is a bad time to be making that particular argument. Also, Tomey and Wagner and Holmes and Klum seem to suffer from their lack of "Hawaii Bowl" bids.)

He really believes this stuff. Anybody who sees it differently ... well, you heard the show.

But enough said about that. It's out there, over the airways and on the record. As football coaches themselves say, "The tape don't lie."

Let's talk tradition: The name was changed the first time, true, but because of a magic moment. It was changed in 2000 because of a mainland marketing scheme.

The Rainbow name has mana. The new one is artificial, manufactured.

The old one belonged to all the people of Hawaii. The new one belongs to one man.

"Warriors"? That's going to take a program over the top? It reminds me of an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Homer decides to improve his life by changing his name to "Max Power." (Now that I think about it, Max Power also had his own personal theme music.)

It may have been a good idea on paper, but tradition doesn't happen that way.

Jones is right: This isn't something for a focus group or a vote.

This decision was made 81 years ago, when there was a rainbow over the field.

Hawaii already has tradition, a deep, rich, storied one.

People just want Jones to be a part of it, embrace it, rather than breaking away. Come home, Coach Jones. Come home.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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