While Saint Francis football is on the rise, another program has hit rock bottom. Hard. Following a 58-7 pounding by the Air Force, the speculation that rocked Hawaii head coach Norm Chow into the season, it finally came to a head.
When asked Saturday if he would coach 24 hours from then, Chow bristled, saying, “I’m not worried about my job…My issue, whatever you want to make of it, has nothing to do with this football game! Come on, give me a break!”
In front of the smallest crowd since 1976 (15,118 turnstile), and the second-worst winning percentage in Hawaii history (0.21 at 10-36), we should have been worried. The ‘Bows have lost seven straight winnable games, blowing leads twice versus New Mexico and Nevada, and now they have the worst loss in program history at home–51 points. Ferd Lewis, columnist for the local paper, the Star-Advertiser said it best–the last three games at home–all versus below-.500 teams–may attract “sewing-circle turnouts”. With less than reported 7,000 fans left during halftime–when the Falcons were already ahead 34-0–Chow’s fate was sealed. It’s safe to say that this season will already spur debt-riddled problems, and the louder calls for football to be dropped are more and more possible. Truthfully, the basketball programs make more, and that’s saying something.
For the first time in school history, an in-season firing has been made, and Chris Naeole, the offencive line coach, will be interim for the rest of the season.
When Chow was hired on December 22, 2011, after the resignation of Greg McMackin on the fifth, people knew it wouldn’t work. And that was apparent from the start–Hawaii averaged 14.3 points in their nine losses in 2012, 25.4 points in 2013 in their near-winless season, 17.4 points in 2014’s nine losses, and nine points in the seven losses. And even when they won, it was joyless.
Plus, Hawaii went 1-23 on the road during his tenure, and exacerbated a 17-game road losing streak, at the time, the longest in the country. The lone win came in a 13-0 win versus San Jose State–a game that Hawaii was outgained 276-120.
No timetable has been set, and coordinators Don Bailey and Tom Mason appear to be safe for now.
Athletic director Dave Matlin said searches are already underway, and the shortlist is astounding. Here are my three coaches that should replace Norm Chow and his pro-style spread that hasn’t worked from day one.
- Nick Rolovich: Why not? The prodigal son could be pried away from the in-prodigal son named Polian in Nevada. And he could potentially bring back the offence that brought Hawaii to the top of the WAC’s elite–the run-and-shoot, pistol-style. For the first time, Hawaii could actually win a game–something that hasn’t brought my family back since October 26 last year vs. Nevada.
- Dirk Koetter: Yes, that guy. The same guy that was runner-up to Chow in 2011. He runs the same pro-style offence, but with more aggression and passing. It’s called the Air Raid. With a constant four slot set, and less running, this could help Hawaii back to the top and get more recruits for years to come. Just as long as the defence can step up.
- Ed Orgeron: A defencive-minded guy wouldn’t hurt, as long as that he has a good offence to coach, with it. He does have intensity, something that Norm Chow never had. Orgeron preaches that the team is “one heart, and one soul”, something that united a fractured USC team in 2013 following Lane Kiffin’s firing.
By the way, for those that want June Jones back, you’re nuts.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Athletics contributed this report.