The former AD

December 13th, 2012
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Jim Donovan won’t come out and say it, but I think it’s pretty clear he’d still rather be athletic director at the University of Hawaii.
But since that is no longer a possibility, getting the job as athletic director at Cal State Fullerton is good for him because he grew up in the area and his parents, who are getting up in age, live nearby.
Considering everything that happened in the past several months — and the extreme likelihood that his contract at UH was not going to be renewed — Donovan landed on his feet professionally.
“I love UH and I love UH athletics,” he told me in a phone interview Thursday after he was introduced as the CSF athletic director. “But I am a Titan now.”
Whatever you think of Donovan professionally or personally, anyone who knows him knows this: He put all of his heart into his work at UH and battled some tough obstacles along the way.

The new AD

December 8th, 2012
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I really wasn’t expecting to hear from Ben Jay last night after being told he was on his way back to Ohio. And UH’s press release on his acceptance of the athletic director job didn’t even have a quote from him.
So it was a pleasant surprise when he did call in response to my e-mail, at about 11 p.m. his time after a long flight and whirlwind several days.
You can read about him in today’s column; we talked about UH’s finances, repairing the damage stemming from the Wonder Blunder, the NCAA and a bit about his personal background and philosophy. We will all get to know Jay more beginning later this month; the tentative plan is that he will return to Hawaii the week before Christmas. He said he hopes to start work at UH in early January.
Jay said he has been to Hawaii a few times, going back to when he worked for what was then the Pac-10, and to visit his cousin, Yulee Okazaki.

Tough Cuts

December 5th, 2012
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Here’s the list that I started with for today’s All-Time Hawaii Grown football team, there are a few more I have to add that were considered, and let’s hear who else you think should be on it:

Quarterback: Garrett Gabriel (Pac-Five/Hawaii), Jason Gesser (Saint Louis/Washington State), Marcus Mariota (Saint Louis/Oregon).

Running back: Joe Igber (‘Iolani/Cal), Chris Fuamaut-Maafala (Saint Louis/Utah), Adrian Murrell (Leilehua/West Virginia).

Fullback: Bob Apisa (Farrington/Michigan State), Mosi Tatupu (Punahou/USC).

All-Purpose: Tommy Kaulukukui (Hilo/Hawaii), Herman Wedemeyer (Saint Louis/Saint Mary’s).

Wide Receiver: Ashley Lelie (Radford/Hawaii), Chad Owens (Roosevelt/Hawaii), Jason Rivers (Saint Louis/Hawaii).

Tight end: Russ Francis (Kailua/Oregon).

Offensive line: Bern Brostek (‘Iolani/Washington), Rockne Freitas (Kamehameha/Oregon State), Toniu Fonoti (Kahuku/Nebraska), Chris Kemoeatu (Kahuku/Utah), Olin Kreutz (Saint Louis/Washington), Chris Naeole (Kahuku/Colorado), Dominic Raiola (Saint Louis/Nebraska), Jesse Sapolu (Farrington/Hawaii), Samson Satele (Kailua/Hawaii), Max Unger (Hawaii Prep/Washington).

Defensive line: Junior Ah You (Kahuku/Arizona State), Tyson Alualu (Saint Louis/Cal), Charlie Ane (Punahou/USC), Al Harris (Leilehua/Arizona State), Al Noga (Farrington/Hawaii), Niko Noga (Farrington/Hawaii), Jesse Mahelona (Kealakehe/Tennessee), Levi Stanley (Farrington/Hawaii).

Linebacker: Brian Cabral (Saint Louis/Colorado), Kurt Gouveia (Waianae/Brigham Young), Manti Te’o (Punahou/Notre Dame).

Defensive backs: Blane Gaison (Kamehameha/Hawaii), Rich Miano (Kaiser/Hawaii), Hal Stringert (Saint Louis/Hawaii), Jeris White (Radford/Hawaii).

Kicker: Reggie Ho (Saint Louis/Notre Dame), Dick Kenney (‘Iolani/Michigan State), Peter Kim (Kaiser/Alabama).

Going out in style

December 1st, 2012
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In years when Hawaii plays in the Hawaii Bowl less than a month later, Senior Night is less meaningful than seasons like this one when the last regular-season game is the final chance for the fans at Aloha Stadium to see the Warriors play.

So tonight’s game against South Alabama is more significant in that sense. And that’s also one of the reasons 2001 is top of my list of UH’s best senior sendoffs.

There was no bowl game after UH’s 72-45 domination of BYU. The Warriors finished 9-3, but with no postseason game to go to. It helped spawn the Hawaii Bowl.

You knew it was over at halftime when Pisa Tinoisamoa crushed BYU quarterback Brandon Doman at the goal line and the Warriors went in leading 31-10. Freshman Chad Owens made sure the seniors went out with a win, returning both a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns — in the first quarter.

Nick Rolovich, with eight touchdown passes, turned in the greatest aloha performance by a UH player ever. And who could forget Craig Stutzmann punting the ball into the stands after his touchdown catch; add the ensuing ejection and it was a unique final-game departure.

Mahalo, Mililani ‘Ike!

November 28th, 2012
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When my friend Beth Kuwamoto Oka asked me to speak to her third-grade students I was apprehensive. I’d done many career days before and always feel honored to be asked, but I’d never done one with children so young. After the two sessions at Mililani ‘Ike Elementary School today, I’m glad I accepted her invitation.

The children were receptive and engaged. As usual after visiting a school I am optimistic about the future with so many bright, energetic young people being educated by dedicated, skilled teachers! And as always I emerge re-energized.

It was fun sharing stories about working in sports journalism, and it was a pleasant surprise when I asked how many of the kids’ parents get the newspaper at home and nearly all of them raised their hands.

Thank you Mrs. Oka and Mrs. Ebinger for your aloha and letting me spend time with your pupils!