The Benjy Taylor Dilemma

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.


  1. locomoco December 26, 2014 1:27 pm

    Insightful commentary, Dave. It’s pretty astounding that UH finds itself in a situation with an interim Mens BB coach, reporting to an (essentially interim AD, reporting to an interim Chancellor, reporting to a UH President who was interim himself not too long ago.

  2. locomoco December 26, 2014 1:33 pm

    The 1-year extension makes so much sense – for recruiting, retention of players, program stability – that I think it’s beyond UH’s capabilities. I’m a UH alum, 20-year football season ticket holder; not a hater … I just want them to start operating more sensibly.

  3. kimo browner December 26, 2014 1:44 pm

    Thanks for the info Dave.
    It is particularly sad, even at a time when UH must rebuild from scratch, they find themselves inept to move. Coach Taylor has connected the dots, brought excitement back to the Stanley, revived attendance and revamped a busted-up team to perform beyond fan expectation. Indeed, to exceed fan expectation is rare.
    Look, the ball is in Administration hands. All the talk is done for these maka-maks.
    Let’s see if these high flying higher ups can handle the pass without another turnover.

  4. hatakeman December 26, 2014 2:14 pm

    Once again Dave, you make too much sense for our UH administrators to grasp. History has shown us it must be difficult, complex and very costly to administer by UH officials. First, we need to convene a committee…you know the drill.

  5. Kazu December 26, 2014 3:56 pm

    What they need to do is find some one who has the authority to fire all of the administrators and BOD and start from scratch.

  6. Krusha December 26, 2014 5:17 pm

    Seems like UH doesn’t know what to do with successful coaches, and they end up getting away before they realize what they lost. I just hope they don’t drop the ball with Benjy, since we have seen that his coaching probably correlated to their winning ways more than anything else. We seen Gib’s teams lose games left and right due to inept coaching, and also have attitude problems with the players. So far Benjy has managed to hold this team together and make noticeable improvements after every game.

  7. Phil December 26, 2014 7:34 pm

    The Michigan Wolverines have an “interim AD” who will hire the next football coach. We have an “interim”…and useless…Chancellor so why can’t he just tell Ben Jay to take the “interim” off Benjy Taylor’s title. Hopefully Vroman will follow BJ out the door.

  8. cocobean December 26, 2014 8:57 pm

    No question Benjy has done a stellar job. The only question is can he recruit? The bulk of current and former players of the past few seasons were brought in by
    Arnold and Akana.

  9. Rocky December 26, 2014 11:42 pm

    I believe Benjy Taylor recruited Issac Fleming. Assistant Coach Carey was brought in for his recruiting skills. Coach Autrey also has contacts throughout US Mainland.

  10. David J. December 27, 2014 4:09 am

    University of Hawaii Board of Regent should look really deep into who they hires for any athletic position. Don’t care if they have a great record!. But they really must have a clean record!. Because remember it did happen to the University of Hawaii men’s basketball. And their got slap with a ten years suspension by the NCAA!. After that got last in time so did remember the name Rick Pitino? Hello! . He use to be a assistant coach at the University of Hawaii. That year the NCAA have been investigation on the men’s basketball program and given them the ten years suspension. Haven you read the pass three ago SI? When they asked Rick Pitino about his pass coaching years of experience with University and the NBA teams! He name all the NBA team and the University but not the University of Hawaii!. Hey! Tell me whatever do a assistant coaches do? Because I Mr. Pitino been sitting on his job and doing nothing when he was at UH!. Because they mention it to him and his response was he never had coach in Hawaii before and even ESPN did ask him that question!. I think it’s going to happen when their ask them the same question to Arnold or Akana in another ten years or so. Because long time ago my dad told me that? The NCAA officials were asking about the University of Hawaii basketball program. That year when Rick Pitino was a assistant coach at UH. I ask him and some other former college basketball coaches. I get the same answer every time!. They say that? The NCAA officials only get after the small and unknown University that not making money!. Because look at the pictures! The NCAA don’t want to hurt the big and larger University at because of the money and not hurting the NCAA too!. Look at 1. USC they given them 4 years suspension that was a slap on the wrist!. They did the same thing like UH! Why they don’t give them a ten years suspension because of money!. And other University doing the same thing and you hear it on the news all the time! What 4 years or mistakes! The big questions is why? Not ten years suspension? I only come up with the same question all the time is MONEY! . So they are tell me that the NCAA is running like a mob and sending they’re henchmen to investigate

  11. Little Yankee December 27, 2014 4:35 am

    If current players are allowed to give opinions on Benjy, with assurance that their names will be kept confidential, many would be surprised to learn what some of them truly think of him.

  12. David J. December 27, 2014 4:48 am

    The other schools for money!. I thought that US government had stop that!. It’s seems that it not been done at all!. US Government should do a investigation NCAA headquarters! And another is that? It’s great for kids to play sports for there University but are their for leaning and playing they degree and diploma and get them ready for the future in life?!. So if not the case so everyone can go to play any sports in the University of they’re choice!. Even they have a learning disability!. It’s really be a shock to see it happen to University like Stanford University and other like them get students with learning disability things football or other sports for the University! . Now! I really can’t wait what the NCAA will do to BYU and Memphis? If there give a small thing to them!. The University of Hawaii should file a complaint! Because it was most worst then the Bowl game that University of Hawaii football play against the University of Houston!. Because, I heard that if University of Hawaii next time they have a fright on the football field!. They’re will be banned from playing any bowl games!. They should do the same thing to them too!. They got pick on the University of Hawaii and look at others University’s too!

  13. oldtimer808 December 27, 2014 5:42 am

    David J you need someone to edit the way you write and possibly the way you think. In 1977 the UH men’s basketball program were given a two year probation for 64 violations. Pitino was a graduate assistant during that time but became an interim coach. He was also given notice by the NCAA that sited him for 8 of the 64 violations. He was suspended from the UH program for two years. This information is from previous Star Bulletin reports and national reports from that period.

    An article today in The Lexington Herald-Leader cited a 1977 N.C.A.A. report on sanctions against Hawaii that implicated Pitino in 8 of the 64 violations that led to the university being placed on two years’ probation.

    The violations involving Pitino included providing round-trip air fare for a player between New York and Honolulu, arranging for student-athletes to receive used cars for season tickets, and handing out coupons to players for free food at McDonald’s.

    Article from the New York Times:

    He was also cited, along with the head coach, Bruce O’Neil, for providing misinformation to the N.C.A.A. and University of Hawaii officials.
    The N.C.A.A. committee on infractions recommended in 1977 that Pitino and O’Neil be disassociated from Hawaii athletics.
    Newton said he was aware of Pitino’s situation at Hawaii, but Roselle told The Herald-Leader he had not known about it. The matter could be a particularly sensitive one because the Kentucky basketball program has just been placed on three years’ probation for various violations of N.C.A.A. rules. Pitino Not Worried

    ”The Hawaii problem was no problem at all because I’ve already been at Providence and Boston University,” Pitino said.

    ”I’m not an assistant fighting for my first job. It’s no problem for me – in fact, I think it’s a positive because I know exactly what can go on the wrong way.”

    During a 30-minute news conference this morning, Newton reaffirmed his confidence in Pitino, and Pitino, appearing upbeat and a bit brash, said he had nothing to hide.

  14. Les December 27, 2014 6:58 am

    Can you give Mr. Taylor a one year extension and hire a new Basketball Coach? You cannot have two head coaches.
    Can the current AD hire a new basketball coach?
    Why not. If he can find someone willing.
    What authority does the Interim Chancellor have?
    Is the current President capable of leading the University?
    Who has the authority to fire the BOR?
    No, they have to resign.
    Would Mr. Taylor rather be in his current position or unemployed?

  15. hanapepe December 27, 2014 9:42 am

    Would give Benji a 2 yr. extension to see whether he can recruit or not. Remember that all the players are Gib’s. Like all the sports the name of the game is recruiting!

    Did anyone investigate why he was released by Chicago State?

  16. hon2255 December 27, 2014 9:49 am

    Tad Boyle, when did his name come up the last time around, all we heard about was Gib and the other guy from St Marys . A entire conference season is ahead of us and the jury is still out on whether this team can finish strong and win a conference title finally or will it fizzle out like the Gibber’s of the past four years, stay tuned. An interesting note , Keith Amemiya still loves UH sports, sits right behind the UH Basketball bench. J Junes also visible at the tournament sitting on ground floor watching the first tournament game, well Dave Reardon, any clue on who will be our next AD and will this happen expediently?

  17. oldyobo December 27, 2014 12:04 pm

    HEY! Let’s not get carried away here. Yes, an exciting team playing exciting brand of basketball but let’s not forget that ALL the players are the disgraced, dismissed head coach’s recruits. Is there ANY evidence that this coach can recruit? Really, is there ANY evidence that this coach can win in conference play? OF CORSE NOT because conference play hasn’t started yet. Let’s all take a deep breath and let this thing simmer a little bit, it’ll sort itself out soon enough. So many of you want to jump on the bandwagon when things look good, but will be the first ones jumping off when things turn sour, just like the crowd jumping for joy when Chow got hired (AND when Gib got hired – how did that turn out?) RELAX!

  18. JSN1820 December 27, 2014 12:25 pm

    Clearly, Coach Taylor has done a fine job thus far in molding a very cohesive team that plays with confidence and great effort. Through 14 games, the team continues to improve and has shown that they are prepared to play any opponent at home or on the road. Based on the team’s and Coach Taylor’s game performance, there is no question that he needs to be seriously considered for being elevated to a more permanent head coach status.

    However, it has been revealed that Coach Taylor has a number of off the court issues involving his personal life which I find to be troubling and in need of resolution at the earliest time. It is imperative that if he is going to be considered for a more permanent position as leader and spokesperson for one of Hawaii’s major sports team, that he needs to also address and resolve those issues with the same speed and skill that he has exhibited in leading and nurturing the welcomed development of the men’s basketball team. He needs to provide a good example for his players and for the community at large both on and off the court.

  19. the truth December 27, 2014 12:30 pm

    benjy does not have a dilemma, its the UH who has. if they do not make him the permanent coach with a good salary, he will just leave and take all the players with him. and that will leave UH sucking again.

  20. ignaciosaid December 28, 2014 5:31 am

    strange ! people think that there’s problems at the UH. All the things you read in the paper and hear on the news (is not even 10% of ) the problems at UH. The whole infrastructure is in CHAOS (have you heard line—blind leading the blind) . I have been an employee for many years and saw everything , firsthand. The powers , at the UH are happy to take their (high 3) retirement packages (which further drains much needed monies) and turn a blind eye to everything else. There have been very good people there , but most have never been given a chance to try (or maybe , too smart to even try) to make changes. Those that have tried , are given the AXE (most recent was Tom Apple)! There is NO hope in the immediate future (my thoughts) that there will be any turnarounds , unless people get on the ball and demand Government higher ups to ACT !!!!! nuff said by me

  21. bto December 29, 2014 8:02 am

    #16 yes the season is long, but give it time. However, one that has coached before there are some coaches that can manage the game, manage players, and allow skills and talents to prosper. This Benjy has done and proven he is a winner. You just know someone is a winner after observing their work for a short time.

  22. Les December 29, 2014 8:04 pm

    bto, maybe this is his golden opportunity. Yes, let’s see how the season goes. If we can past NCAA muster that is. ig is right too. We can’t make too many more bad hires at the top level. We cannot sustain not only the high salaries but the retirement packages. the truth is right as well. Some college will take notice and benjy will be gone. jsn is right too. A couple of extra dollars in his pay envelope can clear up some of his personal obligations. yobosayo is right. Let’s not rush it and see how it plays out.

  23. Keepitreal January 12, 2015 8:55 am

    Look at Benjy’s HC record at Chicago State and North Central. Winner?

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