Sunday, November 1, 2015

Back to the Future?

A lot of things that Doc Brown might have imagined in "Back to the Future" seemed to have come true in some form. Fans of the movie noted that the date set in the DeLorean for Doc's first jump to the future came to be last month.

What also came to be in October was the anticipated end of the Norm Chow Era of UH Football. Last night's 58-7 drubbing by Air Force is widely seen as the last straw that will force AD Dave Matlin to take some immediate action to change the direction of the program. The official attendance of over 15,000 is a head-scratcher unless they counted many of the service members in attendance twice. Turning that trend around quickly would be vital for the newly-minted head of the department as he establishes his mark on UH Athletics history.

Looking at the situation from his view and the first thing you notice is that there is no bye-week that will allow for any chance of easing a new Head Coach into an already tough situation. Any mid-season shake-up is a challenge but doing it in a game week is even more unenviable. Doing it in a week when the team is on the road falls into "wishing my worst enemy" territory. With an eye to trying to push out as many tickets as possible after the upcoming UNLV game when Hawaii returns for its final 3-game homestand, I am sure Matlin still has ghost and goblins leftover in his head with images of mausoleum-like settings in Aloha Stadium.

If an announcement is made that Norm Chow is relieved as Head Coach this afternoon there would be about 144 hours until the team kicks off against the Rebels in Sam Boyd Stadium. With 5-hours of flight time from the nearest mainland airport, travel time to get to that airport, time to wrap up any issues, and even a little time to pack some basics, the earliest someone would be in Manoa is probably midday Monday. Once on the ground that person would have less than 72 hours to evaluate his personnel; watch game film of the opponent; formulate a game plan; meet with his staff (assuming the entire Chow staff remains) to announce the plan and his system; setup a practice plan; conduct 3 home practices where he introduces an offensive and defensive and special teams system, scheme, and methodology to the team; coordinate a trip for 100 people that is 2600+ miles away; then finally, coach a CFB game in a venue that he may or may not have ever seen before. (BTW, I use the male form of the pronoun because it is virtually impossible that a female would fill the position)

If there is such a person that could or would take all that on be aware that he was probably sitting by the phone in the middle of the season waiting for ANY opportunity. That doesn't seem to be the kind of hire any AD would be willing to make at any stage of his tenure. So go ahead and rule out anyone from the mainland coming in this week to take the job.

That would leave someone who is already in Hawaii. Does Matlin turn things over to the OC who promised 70 TD's and hasn't produced anything much more than being shutout in 4 of the seven games so far this season? (Last night's lone TD came from the Special Teams). How about the DC who would be wearing the "Interim" label for the 3rd time? mean he has been on 2 other staffs that ended up having its Head Coach dismissed in the midst of the season? Not a strong resume.

Who then?

Apparently, there is a guy who has been seen on the practice field in the next valley over from Manoa all season. June Jones has been sort of an unpaid consultant to his long-time running mates, Cal and Ron Lee during St. Louis' ILH season up through and including last week's playoff win over 5-time champion Punahou.

The man who formulated the greatest turnaround in NCAA history in 1999 seems poised to be thrust into the role yet again. He already knows the landscape in the Quarry and has probably been following the "progress" of the team for at least this and the previous season. His "system" probably doesn't even need to be run thru the printing office since his "playbook" is in his head. The players, and most notably the QB's, should be fairly familiar with parts of the system already. (What D1 QB is not familiar with the Choice route?) And if not, there's gotta be hours and hours of game film somewhere in the football offices.

And did I mention he's already done a big turnaround before? The last soldout game I recall is the UDub game before the Sugar Bowl. If the new AD is concerned about attendance, Jones' name can certainly pique some interest and probably some ticket sales (and fewer season-ticket holder no-shows) People love him or hate him but either way they will turn out to see if they were right.

Hopefully, someone is already digging up the 1999-2006 game tapes and maybe even Netflix copy of "Back to the Future."

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