Update: Cavanaugh won’t be rejoining UH staff

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.


  1. iGrokSpock December 18, 2017 12:37 pm

    Pipe dream. Take a massive pay cut (approximately 1/4 the salary) and a step down to a lower level program where you already coached at many years ago. But to have Cav for even one year would do the program good.

  2. Dave Reardon December 18, 2017 1:28 pm

    I think it is a 50-50 possibility, at best right now. Perhaps he has other options, but I don’t think he has a job at this moment. I also don’t know if his Nebraska contract was done, or if he has more years on it and there is a buyout provision that covers whatever he would make at a new job that is under the $450,000.

  3. Dave Reardon December 18, 2017 2:42 pm

    Well, obviously with the update it is much closer to “pipe dream” than “50-50.”

  4. H-Man December 18, 2017 2:51 pm

    Only a young coach looking at UH as a stepping stone would be interested. I was surprised when Kevin Lempa returned, so it was not a surprise when he left after one year. For continuity sake; for player development and program building, its best that coaches stay for at least 3 years. Well, that’s what I think.

  5. iGrokSpock December 18, 2017 7:27 pm

    Too bad. Was hoping that Coach Cav would be back.

  6. Sangamon Keith December 18, 2017 7:57 pm

    Chad Kauha’aha’a … $290K at Oregon State in ‘17.

  7. roygbivs December 19, 2017 1:55 am

    Miano? Would he like to coach again?

    Jus throwing a bone ….

  8. Kevin Chong Kee December 19, 2017 7:43 am

    How’s about Timmy Chang, quarterback coach, Craig Stutzman, receiver coach, Makoa Freitas, offensive line coach.

  9. Lowtone123 December 19, 2017 8:39 am

    #7 Miano and Rolo coached together under Mac so it’s a possibility although Miano wasn’t chosen before I’m guessing because he rumored a candidate for HC so he declined an offer to coach DB.
    Would love to see that happen although he would have to be open to it. Any movement on Derby for OL coach?

  10. Paniolo December 19, 2017 11:10 am

    Oh shucks!!! I really wish Coach CAV would return to Hawaii as our Warriors Offensive line coach. But money talks, and Hawaii is not in a position to bargain for CAV.

    With the Democratic control Hawaii government, they are so stingy and not helping our University of Hawaii Athletic department. I wish most of these Democrat legidlature including the governor would have attended the University of Hawaii and maybe be a lot more loyal to your State University. But all of them were educated on mainland colleges.

    Maybe Rolo should hire local high school coaches like former Hawaii football great coach Dick Tomey did in his era.

  11. NotNasti December 19, 2017 12:55 pm

    Paniolo: Most of our legislators AND our Governor are proud graduates of UHM. Ige is frequently heard in public speaking about receiving his engineering degree from UHM. Unfortunately, as they are elected officials, they have to address what the majority of the electorate considers more pressing, like public schools, affordable housing, etc. Remember, under Lingle, there was a proposal to ban alcohol sales in Aloha Stadium.

  12. Bulla December 19, 2017 1:19 pm

    Sangamon Keith, Coach Chad is a strong recruiter here in the islands and also Samoa. I feel he would be an asset to the program and his family is from Maui…. another legitimate hook to use.

  13. Kazu December 19, 2017 1:39 pm

    A program that’s going no place right now. Now days got to have money to go forward, but don’t think Hawaii have the people or businesses that wants to support the Football program when the State themselves don’t do it.
    UH going be like this until they have big time supporters, coaches,and decent players.

  14. Paniolo December 19, 2017 5:58 pm

    My Response to No. 10 NotNasti: That’s pure baloney!. The other States in the Union have the same problem (taking care of the homeless, public schools, affordable housing etc) and yet they support their Athletic department. ‘

    Democratic Governor Ige just released his budget and not one cent for the University of Hawaii Athletic department. It was reported the spend spree Democrat Governor budget was increased by 85 million dollars.There was never been support by the Democratic party for the University of Hawaii Athletic department. There was only one Democratic governor, John A, Burns, supported the UH in getting into the Western Athletic Conference but support for more funds, i’m not sure there was support there.
    As for Republican Governor Lingle, she wanted to ban alcohol at Aloha Stadium during Warrior football game nights, because there was a lot of complaints by fans about rowdy drunkin Warrior fans getting out of hands (fist fights and beer poured on visiting team from the balcony). This is why Aloha Stadium officials hired off-duty Police Officers dressed in civilian clothes to monitor these drunkin idiots!.

  15. NorNasti December 19, 2017 7:06 pm

    Paniolo, I don’t disagree with you. Just posted to correct your misstatement of facts. You said the Governor and legislators attended mainland colleges. That statement is factually untrue, and easily confirmed. When you post something obviously untrue, you’re either lying or misinformed. I don’t like misinformation, so I posted. I for one, believe that UHM should be the crown jewel of the pacific, and a School to rival PAC 12 schools. Dedication to upgrading our facilities should include upper and lower campus. People on this blog place a high priority on UH athletics. I have to tell you that in this state, not many do. Not like Nebraska, where I lived for 2 years. Pulled into a neighborhood bar in the early ‘80’s, blue collar gents gave us Hawaiian kids odd looks. We ordered our draughts and selected the Nebraska fight song on the jukebox. When the song came on, the entire bar stopped what they were doing, and everyone, everyone in the bar stood and sang the fight song, glasses raised. My son went to UW, where the facilities are top notch. Their athletic dept receives direct funding from their legislature even though the dept receives tens of millions from the Pac12 tv package. The climate in Hawaii is different. The athletes are treated like family, not performers.

  16. lol December 20, 2017 12:00 pm

    Paniolo: If you think a republican legislature would magically open the pocketbooks for UH football, i would love to get my hands on whatever you’re smoking.

    Also, as far as other states supporting their athletic depts in ways that hawaii is not, please provide analysis and numbers

  17. What? December 20, 2017 10:17 pm

    UH Football is not a top priority in the state of hawaii. As for other states, that’s their choice to place more emphasis in their in state College football program. The residents and leaders of other states do what they feel benefits them. Maybe they believe college football is more important than social programs or all other issues in their state.

    If more people actually attended football games, then maybe the leaders in this state would feel reason to invest in the UH football program. But, 15k to 23k attendance for games, tells the governor and other leaders in the state that Hawaii doesn’t care about football. The idea “if you build it, they will come.” That’s not going to happen.

    The state is now left with the task of bailing out the city with that waste of a project called the rail transit. Will the rail decrease traffic to make a difference? And, is the money it takes to build the rail worth the cost?

    It comes down to money. Which social programs in Hawaii is this state willing to give up so that money can be used for Uh football?

    The state budget is finite. Spending more in one area means you need to take that money from a different area. Are there any departments or social programs in this state willing to give up their money so that the extra money taken from other programs could be used to fund UH football?

Comments are closed.