I spoke briefly with Mike Cavanaugh this morning. I asked him point-blank if he might be returning to the University of Hawaii football coaching staff.
“I’m not talking about all that stuff, any of that business stuff,” Cavanaugh said. “But I love all of you. Mele Kalikimaka.”
A couple of hours after this initial post, a source close to the situation told me Cavanaugh will not be joining the UH staff.
Too bad. While it was a longshot, it would’ve made for a Merry Christmas and a huge morale boost for the UH program.
Cavanaugh was the Warriors offensive line coach from 1999 through 2004. He was tough, but liked and respected by players and also popular with fans. He is especially expert in teaching pass-blocking technique: His offensive lines at UH allowed just one sack per 26 attempts. Among his pupils were future NFL players Kynan Forney, Adrian Klemm, Kaulana Noa and Samson Satele.
He was a charter member of June Jones‘ staff at UH, and the Warriors enjoyed four winning seasons in his six years at Manoa.
Cavanaugh left UH for Oregon State, where he coached the offensive line for 10 seasons before following head coach Mike Riley to Nebraska in 2015. Riley was fired last month. New Huskers coach Scott Frost has named his staff, including offensive line coach Greg Austin who was with him from UCF.
Cavanaugh’s salary last season at Nebraska was $450,000. Hawaii does not have the budget to match that amount for an offensive line coach, especially considering head coach Nick Rolovich‘s salary is $400,000 per year.
However, with the resignations of UH defensive coordinator Legi Suiaunoa and receivers coach Kefense Hynson to join the Oregon State staff, there is some flexibility for salary restructuring among the assistants.
UH’s offensive line coach, Chris Naeole, resigned during the 2017 season. Running backs coach Brian Smith and graduate assistant John Estes coached the offensive linemen the rest of the season.