If a lot of University of Hawaii basketball fans had gotten their way four years ago, Tad Boyle would be the Rainbow Warriors coach now. But Boyle ended up at Colorado and has led the Buffs to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
If a lot of University of Hawaii basketball fans had their way now, Benjy Taylor would be named the permanent head coach. UH is 10-4 under Taylor as acting coach replacing the fired Gib Arnold, with the latest win coming against Boyle’s Colorado team in the third place game of the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Day.
Taylor has the Rainbow Warriors playing an exciting brand of defense-fueled winning basketball and deserves all the kudos he’s getting. I’m among the many who love watching them play.
But the awkward reality is that no one appears to be in a position now at UH to make any kind of move in naming a head coach, even if the administration were so inclined. Right now, UH-Manoa has a lame duck athletic director in the resigned (actually, fired) Ben Jay and an interim chancellor in Robert Bley-Vroman.
There are no battlefield commissions at UH, especially now. There is no executive order to be made, because there is no executive equipped or inclined to make such a move.
Taylor jokes about it now, saying he joked with his players that since his opposing coach gets paid 20 times as much as he does they must play 20 times better than the other team.
He hit a home run when I put him on the spot after Thursday’s win, asking for his take on so many people locally and nationally asking what it’s going to take for him to lose the acting-coach tag. Taylor basically said it’s not time to be selfish, but that he hopes there will be a reward eventually, that reward being the job on a permanent basis (whatever “permanent” means in coaching jobs these days).
I asked Jay if it’s possible for Taylor to at least receive a spot merit bonus of some kind. He said those do not exist at UH. Apparently good work can’t be rewarded, unless it’s done by your representative who manages to negotiate a contract with bonuses for things like being at BS autograph signings.
Several UH folks who have dealt with him a lot tell me that in the past Taylor has not been the easiest coach to work with administratively. But neither was his predecessor, as well as coaches of other sports.
I’ve also been told by trusted sources that Taylor’s hands are clean regarding the NCAA investigation. If true, that will be confirmed when UH gets and is forced to reveal the letter of allegations on that, probably next month (come on, you knew it wasn’t going to be during the holidays, right?).
It is wise, also, to see how this team does in conference play, at least for a few games in conference play before any permanent move is made. UH basketball history is full of teams that peaked in December.
Bottom-line … I would expect that UH won’t hire a permanent coach or give Taylor the job until the end of the season, or at least not until a new athletic director is on board. But perhaps an extension through next season, as soon as possible, is a good compromise for now; it would go a long way in keeping this exciting team intact.