AD Jay voices support for Coach Chow

As we head down the stretch of the UH football season, the biggest question regarding the program’s future is that of the coaching staff.

Head coach Norm Chow is in the third year of a five-year contract. UH is 2-6 (1-2 Mountain West) this season and his overall record is 6-26 (2-17) with five games left this season (barring a miracle run of the table that would lead to a Hawaii Bowl berth).

Per his contract, it would cost $750,000 to buy out Chow’s contract for its remaining two years. His salary is $550,000 per year, but a provision in the pact calls for a discounted $250,000 buyout in its fifth year.

I asked athletic director Ben Jay today for comment on the situation.

“Norm and I will sit down after the season to evaluate the year as I do with my other coaches,” Jay said in a text.

When I followed up asking if that means replacing Chow with an interim coach before the end of the season is not being considered, he replied with the following:

“I will talk to Norm at the end of the season. Norm Chow is my head coach and he and the team has my full support.”

One of the things people like to say in this particular situation is that Jay does not have the stomach to fire anyone.

There is also the question as to how much he will be allowed to be the one to pull the trigger anyway — or if the decision will be made by the new chancellor, president, or someone else.

It is no secret that the AD himself is vulnerable with his most supportive ally, former chancellor Tom Apple, gone from his post.


  1. Old Diver October 27, 2014 10:59 am

    Ben Jay is taking a reasonable position on this matter.

  2. Jordan October 27, 2014 11:14 am

    2007- Undefeated WAC Champions, go to Sugar Bowl.
    2008- .500 team, Hawaii Bowl Invitation
    2009- No bowl
    2010- Tie of WAC Title, Hawaii Bowl Invitation
    2011- 6-7

    2012: 3-9
    2013: 1-11 (one win against army)
    2014: Currently 2-6, barely beating N. Iowa (a FCS team, D-1AA), and Wyoming (the “Never Was” of college football).

    This is why norm chow was NEVER hired as a head coach in his 40+ years of coaching.

    This is all a set-up by Ben Jay to dump the football program like has already hinted at. A horrible record and attendance that’s only going to get worse like the team only helps him rationalize doing it. #firebothofthem #saveUHfootball

  3. Waikapu October 27, 2014 11:16 am

    Ben Jay is an idiot who doesn’t have the gumption for the job. He needs to go before anybody else. You do have to give Chow the chance this year – he can still make the Hawaii Bowl. There is a chance. And I may play point guard for the Lakers this year too.

  4. jeff October 27, 2014 11:30 am

    Well Lakers suck so you may have a chance. Try play.

  5. madeinhawaii October 27, 2014 11:40 am

    $750K… is that about the same amount as they paid McMackin?

  6. madeinhawaii October 27, 2014 11:44 am

    Ah.. fournd it. For McMackin it was $600K.

  7. hatakeman October 27, 2014 12:38 pm

    It has been very frustrating this season to watch the team play hard, come close, but lose when it appears the game strategy is not to lose, rather than to go out and score a bunch of points. So it is difficult to make a rational assessment whether the program needs a new leader or leaders. But one thing for sure, I don’t want to hear any more crying by UH Athletics about the drop in attendance and revenue shortfall. They have their hands on the rudder and are expected to make decisions in line with their vision statement. They do have one, don’t they???

  8. Les Park October 27, 2014 1:27 pm

    The UH football team has done a pretty darn good job up to this point. I don’t know what the big todo is about with our fair weathered jockstraps (supporters) other than they are just a bunch of whiners.
    Hawaii began the season against three Pac 12 Programs anyone of which is about ten times bigger than Hawaii’s program. They followed up that formidable test with two mile high away games. They sustained injuries that decimated the starting line up. Yet, they have been able to put together a season where they have not lost by more than at a tying score.
    I look foward to the remainder of the season with anticipation.

  9. HawaiiMongoose October 27, 2014 1:51 pm

    Chow’s record is 6-26. That’s a 19% winning percentage (actually 18.75% but who’s counting).

    Prior to Chow, UH’s historical football winning percentage over the 100-year life of the program was about 55%. In that context Chow has not only failed but failed appallingly. To let him continue to coach after this season would be utter folly.

    The sooner the decision is announced that he will be let go, the sooner the search for a new coach can begin.

  10. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 1:57 pm

    No easy answers….

    UH went with Chow because of his name and the low price point. Unfortunately, it has not worked out going the cheap route. UH hired Ben Jay as AD to balance the budget which has been running in the red for years. UH clearly does not have the budget flexibility to fire/hire coaches as they please. Based on the price point of head coaches of UH’s peers/rivals, UH will have to spend more to attract a viable candidate, which goes against Ben Jay’s duty to balance the books.

    Add in the fact that UH does not have strong leadership at the President and Board of Regents and it’s not a very good picture of the football program.

    The grass roots fundraising website has only generated $19k (then have to minus website, advertising and admin expenses before donation), so there’s not much additional funding coming in to help pay for firing Chow.

    Like I said… No easy answers

  11. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 2:02 pm

    On the bright side, UH’s deal with Aloha Stadium is so bad, that its lower attendance is not hurting them as much as it could be because the food/bev, parking, stadium advertising and vendor revenue that is not shared with UH. Since UH has never seen a dime from those lucrative revenue generators, the sting from lower attendance is mitigated a little bit.

    UH is only losing ticket revenue and official merchandise revenue. Merch revenue isn’t huge at the stadium anyways and ticket revenue has been under pressure ever since they started the PPV.

  12. Warbow October 27, 2014 2:12 pm

    Chow is good as gone. Watch and see. UH will bungle this up and end up missing the prime recruiting portion of the season because they will wait to long after the season to let Chow go. It happens like that time after time after time with UH.

    Jay will say it’s a business decision when we draw under 20K for the last couple home games. But don’t worry Chow is good as gone and it’s not going to be Jay decision, but it will happen.

  13. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 2:19 pm

    I think for the first time all season, coach Clune had a bad game. Clune really did a good job preparing for Nevada’s offense as UH stuffed them all 1st half, but he just couldn’t find the right 3rd quarter adjustments to slowdown Nevada’s adjustment to spread the formation.

    Looking back at how the 2nd half played out, Clune would have needed to find the answer early on Nevada’s 2nd drive. Midway through the 2nd drive, the defense was gassed out after Nevada grinded them for a long 1st drive followed by UH’s 3 & out. By the end of the 2nd drive, UH’s defensive legs were gone.

    If the offense could just get a few first downs and give the D a rest, I believe Clune could have found the right adjustment by drive 3, but after 2 quick punts, the D had no chance.

    I have high praise for Clune’s ability to make adjustments and he’s proven to get the job done after halftime vs UW, OSU, CU, Wyo, Rice. UNI didn’t get much in the 2nd half until UH softened up once they had a fairly comfortable lead.

  14. innocent observer October 27, 2014 2:39 pm

    the defense played poorly in the 2nd half because of lack of depth. but this issue goes back to recruiting (coaches fault, not players). same with offense, no depth and enough quality players. it is a wonder if they will anymore games this season, even with a banged up Utah state, they will likely win primarily because of coaching and more quality players. uh could win unlv but if they are healthy, another loss for uh. on the road, forget it, no wins period. when chow first came here, he said the he would be chasing championships – how can, when you can’t even win enough games to qualify for championships? what he is really doing is establishing a record for most losses by a coach. he never blamed the coaching staff for any losses. he claims that the players never quit and play till the end, so it cannot be their fault. the only other factor is coaching. is he saying that they too, never stop coaching so it is not their fault?

  15. Tempmanoa October 27, 2014 3:48 pm

    We are losing because Chow’s offense cannot produce enough points– this has happened at his recent stops and the reason he was fired from the Tennessee Titans. Even with a good defense, in order to control a game and win, you need to score 30 points per game (a coach’s rule). It can be done with fewer points, but the pressure on the defense in enormous. With a lead forcing the opponent to pass, Clune’s job becomes easier, he can force more turnovers and interceptions and the lead builds. Point production since winning the WAC in 2010 has gone per game 2010 39.5, 2011 31,5, 2012 21.2, 2013 27.4, 2014 20.6. As we have seen, the 30 point rule can be critical and having a margin of comfort over your opponent helps your record.

  16. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 4:25 pm

    14… Looking back the stats over the past 13 years, this year’s Defense has the 2nd best ppg average since 2001.

    2014’s D is giving up 25.2 ppg
    2006 was 24.1 ppg

    The main website doesn’t post stats pre-2001.

    Considering that 2006 had a historically amazing offense to ease the load off the defense, 2014’s defense is statistically the most stingy UH has had post 2001.

  17. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 4:31 pm

    The defense looks worse than it is because the offense is so bad. The defense has given UH a chance in just about every game except for the SDSU game, who pretty much dominated the trenches from start to finish.

  18. Chicken Grease October 27, 2014 4:38 pm

    Just let Chow run out his contract and then see ya. If UH-M gets a new football coach now, he (or she DUN


    ain’t going do any better in the requisite starting years.

    Make it known to Chow himself that they ain’t gonna renew his contract. Make it VERY public. And maybe something in that head of his will trigger; shouldn’t matter. Win or lose, don’t renew his contract.

    Time we get rid of stubborn attitudes by “those in charge” in the 50th state. I sure am glad the baby boomers are overdue for retirement.

  19. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 4:48 pm

    When you stop to think about it, it’s pretty remarkable that UH’s defense has given up 30 points only once this year (vs OSU).

    Regarding criticizing depth because of recruiting: I ask you how many times UH has ever been deep on defense? Probably never. UH has had lots of good players, but rarely has there been consistent solid depth behind them.

    I don’t care how deep or how good your defense is, when its on the field for 12 minutes in the 3rd quarter, as it was to start the 2nd half vs Nevada, it’s going to be bad news the rest of the game unless the offense can keep pace (which it didn’t).

  20. AllG October 27, 2014 4:58 pm

    I would like to see June take over as AD. I think his coaching days are done but he has great ideas as what needs to be done to get UH sports to the next level. I would like to see Rolo or Klemm brought in as the next Head Coach. They are both up and coming coaches that we can build around for a long time and both have worked for JJ in the past.

  21. Former UH Athlete October 27, 2014 4:58 pm

    18.. The problem with having a lame duck coach is that it decimates recruiting, especially going public with it before it’s necessary. That would further set the program back, taking it longer to recover.

    Other than QB, recruiting has gotten better overall. This year’s injury bug took away UH’s two most explosive WRs (Haynes and Stubblefield). The Oline is way better this year than the past several years. The front 7 is much better than years past. The DBs are average vs past years.

    If not for injuries (and a DUI) this year’s RB corp has been good. Everything has been hampered because defenses not respecting the pass game, which makes running the ball much harder.

    Defensively, it gets a little scary next year as Samia, Malepeai and Yap are finished, but UH returns most of their better LBs.

    The Oline is young so they should only get better. Lakalaka and St Juste will get better once the QB play improves so the defenses aren’t as stacked in the box. Hope to god injuries don’t take out the best athletes at WR next year like this year.

  22. Sofaking_blk October 27, 2014 5:01 pm

    The Defense played poorly because they’re tired. The offense can’t stay on the field long enough to give the Defense a rest so they’re slowly wearing down . Pretty soon the Defense won’t be able to stop anyone.

  23. Derek October 27, 2014 5:10 pm

    We are basically 2 players away from possibly having a winning season. 1, had we had a good QB the offense would be more efficient. 2, a playmaking receiver who can score TDs, somebody like Nelson Spruce from Colorado. Kirkwood maybe, had he stayed, could have made a difference. With those 2 positions, we could have won UW, maybe Rice, and another game. We were competitive in every game. We just don’t have the key skill positions.

  24. Not an Expert October 27, 2014 5:15 pm

    They should have a huddle. Take their time and getting the juices flowing and everyone on the same energy level helps in having a huddle. Thus giving the defense time to rest especially if they go 3 and out. Having a huddle will have them utilize 15 seconds on average more per play. What is the sense in a hurry up offense when you cannot sustain drives.

  25. Sofaking_blk October 27, 2014 5:16 pm

    Remember during the offseason the question kept coming up about whether Chow was gonna bring in a JC QB to compete this fall. But Chow refused to upgrade the QB position so we’re paying for right now.

  26. Tempmanoa October 27, 2014 5:23 pm

    Tommy noted the effect of the talent we lost to transfers. Blake Muir, one of the best offensive linemen we have had in years, he started all 12 games for Chow as a freshman, but now starting at Baylor and another down under player Ben Dew starting at Houston. Those were two huge losses that we may never make up. We lost Trevor Davis the fastest receiver we have had since Lelie (maybe faster) who tore up the spring, then left for Cal were in one game he had two kickoff runbacks for TD’s and two TD receptions– how often do we recruit such speed? So we have to recruit and retain. Then add what we lost to graduation and injury. But we need to use the players we have– for most of the games this season, Ewaliko, St. Juste, Smalls, and King sat and are still not getting serious time– coaches need to develop those players quickly and find ways to use that speed to score points.

  27. Tempmanoa October 27, 2014 5:24 pm

    Correction “Tommy” should read “Tomey”.

  28. Sofaking_blk October 27, 2014 5:30 pm

    You mean all the players that Chow ran off, don’t forget David Graves.

  29. jamesricce October 27, 2014 6:35 pm

    and dont bring june jones back.. he left smu in worse condition than he found it… look at where smu is now (the here and now)..

  30. pollypicador October 27, 2014 6:55 pm

    Help me with the math.

    If the buyout for year 4 is $550 K

    And the buyout for year 5 is discounted to $250 K

    The buyout total is what amount?

    My question: Wouldn’t a good business model be that of one that adheres to the principals of being proactive instead of wait and see. Why wait and see if you can see the writing on the wall, trend, PR and image taking a hit, season ticket sales taking a hit and a downward spiral in morale?

    Jay, by his response, sets the precedent that he’s not aggressive but he might be resigned into being passive.

    Ideally behind every successful head football coach is a successful athletic director leading the way…an athletic director that knows the game well…someone that has a respectable image. But no, not here at UH. Jay and Chow are two peas in a pod. Greenhorns. Twins.

  31. Warrior Dog October 27, 2014 7:19 pm

    If I could get a refund on my Koa Anuenue Membership I would ask for it now. With Norm Chow as coach I for one will not be renewing. Watch next year season tickets go below the 15,000 mark how can you not fire Norm, Ben Jay can’t you count. Norm has caused the UH athletic department to lose $300,000 a year in two years it will be $600,000 or more. The parking lots are empty and so are the stands keep going and we can play in Roosevelt stadium and still have empty seats.

  32. 808WarriorFan October 27, 2014 7:26 pm

    Part of the reason the defense got burnt in the 2nd half was the offense kept our defense on the field way too long. With JJ and the Run & Shoot offense, the “D” would have to back out again but it was because the “O” put 7 on the board. This “O” just goes 3 and out. Another point is, and this is just my opinion, I do not believe that the players we have are suited for this type of offense. A good Head Coach and “O” Coordinator will adjust their offense to the type of talent they have. Again this is my opinion but our “O” line can’t block, Lakalaka is too slow to be a D1 RB, and obviously our WR’s can’t catch the ball. That #34 (RB Joas) showed some moves in the few plays he got so what does Chow do, put him back on the bench…

  33. Micah October 27, 2014 7:27 pm

    Hiring a coach is a crap shoot. No one really knows a new hire will turn out. Much like when you sign a recruit, you don’t know how that player will pan out. Writing seems to be on the wall for Chow, but you don’t know how the next guy will do. You just don’t.

    Are players such as Blake Muir, Trevor Davis, Ben Dew still pissed off at Chow for driving them off?

  34. Pacheco October 27, 2014 7:32 pm

    Local folks get plenty money, yeah? You like fire Chow and Ben Jay, now. That’s going be over $1.5 million in buyouts for those two. Yeah, fired da buggahs and worry about da oddah stuffs later!!

  35. islandman October 27, 2014 7:52 pm

    #18. You know that Norm has a five year contract, not a three year one ?

    #29. Should be $550,000 plus $200,000 = $750,000 .

  36. Chicken Grease October 27, 2014 8:10 pm

    Warrior Dog⁠ October 27, 2014 at 7:19 pm⁠

    If I could get a refund on my Koa Anuenue Membership I would ask for it now.

    Deep, honest words. Seriously. The post of the day, Warrior Dog.

    Think the silver (pardon the UH athletic colors pun; don’t give me this rainbow) lining in this . . . this season is its ability to bring honest words out of us about the situation. No schah’d.

    Former UH Athlete⁠ October 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm⁠

    18.. The problem with having a lame duck coach is that it decimates recruiting, especially going public with it before it’s necessary. That would further set the program back, taking it longer to recover

    Hear, hear, Former UH Athlete. Understood. However, a Grease comes from the point-of–view that the football program; 1) could stand to take a year off to regroup, rethink, reorganizEd, what have you; and/or 2) should go div. 1 or II alreadies.

  37. Sofaqueen_white October 27, 2014 8:38 pm

    Dave…..I would recommend that you do a piece about firing Norm Chow every day. As I read the posts today I think you are well on your way to developing a fine community. It’s good that they have a place to congregate and discuss this issue. I am not sure I have ever been exposed to such a concentration of intelligent and insightful commentary. It’s uncanny the way they speak with a unified voice. You would almost think it is the same person. Keep up the fine work.

  38. eric October 28, 2014 3:31 am

    I’ve been following UH football all my life. This is the least excited I’ve ever been about football. It passed Von Appen with the idea that Chow is going to be back for another year. It’s amazing that we’re going to accept a coach that can’t win 20% of his games. As someone said, Hawaii historically wins a lot of games — the past coaches except for Von Appen had winning seasons.

    If Ben Jay doesn’t push for Chow to get fired, he needs to get the ax too. I don’t know why anyone would give a penny to this athletic department if they’re going to conduct themselves like this. It’s a shame because the people that really get hurt are the student athletes.

  39. Last Call October 28, 2014 5:13 am

    Ben Jay is a penny pinching bean counter so a smart person could figure this out.
    Ben Jay isn’t going to spend money for a buy out even if he had it.

    Ben Jay isn’t going to ask for money from private sources because he’s busy on twitter chasing down young girls to take selfies with, promoting himself and talking about Ohio State.

    Oh look at me Mr and Mrs John Q Public I’m a wonderful person,a great family man and have you heard about my IQ ?

    So get use to having to look at Chow for awhile Hawai`i.

  40. Chicken Grease October 28, 2014 9:03 am

    islandman October 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    #18. You know that Norm has a five year contract, not a three year one ?

    Yeah, so? A Grease’s opinion still stands — this guy don’t wanna quit, then, let him live through his very own twilight zone. See how far he gets.

  41. Really Dave?? October 28, 2014 5:56 pm

    You know you guys are supposed to REPORT the news, not make it up right?

  42. cocobean October 28, 2014 9:49 pm

    Dave the one thing I take issue with is when you write – one of the things people like to say in this particular situation is Jay doesn’t have the stomach to fire anyone. Who are those people you are talking about. And exactly what is the situation you are talking about.

    It’s hard for me to see the balance in your writing. IMHO you’re preaching to the fire Chow now choir. You should have come straight out and ask do you think Chow should be fired now. or do you support Jay’s position on waiting till the end of the season before he makes a decision.

    I ask you straight out – what type of feedback were you expecting to what you posted?

    One thing, I am as frustrated as anyone with Chow’s performance to date. He’s been a disaster as a head coach. I’ve always maintained since season 1 that he gets caught in the manini aspects of being an administrator. That after practice snacks were just as important to him as the practice itself. To rehearse getting off the bus for the Warrior Walk and to rehearse how to make their entrance onto the playing field were things that demanded his close attention. Office supplies, handwritten thank you notes, dress/appearance codes, travel itineraries planned down to the minute…..the list of his duties is endless. To me he’s the Odd Couple rolled into one person. He can be as gruff Oscar Madison and at times be a prissy, nitpicking clean freak as Felix Unger.

    Like him or not the best case scenario for the Program is for him to find success.

  43. madeinhawaii October 29, 2014 12:47 pm

  44. 808WarriorFan October 29, 2014 10:07 pm

    IS IT POSSIBLE ?????



  45. Z October 29, 2014 11:04 pm

    Coach Powell made some good observations. I agree that our defense was tired but I did not like the angles our defenders took trying to chase Fajardo. I was hoping for them to adjust but they never did. He was fast but our d made him look like the flash.

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