Everything but the wins

Norm Chow is a good guy.

Except for stretches — sometimes weeks — when he’s mad and doesn’t talk to me, he’s helpful, accommodating and one of the best to cover. (Perspective: This is my 34th year with a daily newspaper, and 28th as a UH beat writer, including 25 covering UH football.)

He barks but doesn’t bite.

He’s very good to his players, his assistant coaches, and his staff. (He might not be kind to administrators, but that’s mostly because he’s fighting for things for his players, his assistant coaches and his staff.)

Even the compliance officer likes him.

Help the program in any way, and he’ll write a personal thank-you letter.

He works long hours, and considers himself slacking if he’s not in the office by 5 a.m.

As a converted Mormon, he tries to attend church services every Sunday. When he does, he still works a long shift.

He never shares his pain publicly, even after his mother died, even after his wife suffered a stroke.

He’s helped his players graduate, become respectful of others, be good citizens. During road trips, hotel people always mention that the players are nice.

But he’s also intelligent — smart enough to know that even with injuries and the brutal early schedule that the numbers — 2-7 overall, 0-5 in the MWC, 58-7 to Air Force — are unacceptable.

He’s been in the business long enough to know it’s a bottom-line business.

When it’s all said and done — and that might be sooner than later — he also should be remembered for more than his on-field record.


  1. H-Man November 1, 2015 9:58 am

    All businesses are bottom line oriented. If you can’t cover operating expenses and show a net profit, you can’t exist. It’s much more brutal working for large business and corporations. Four years of running in the red will never happen in the business world without a change in leadership, but it seems to be acceptable at the university.

  2. z November 1, 2015 9:59 am

    Agree 100%.

  3. Arcumfortis November 1, 2015 10:00 am

    Beautifully put Stephen. There is much to commend coach Chow on and for these things we can be grateful. But a failure to move assertively at this time imperils the entire athletic dept. It’s time to move on. Seems like everyone knows it.

  4. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 10:04 am

    I don’t know if football in and of itself has been red for 4 years but it is expected to bail out many non-revenue sports. I think the list of bail-ees may be shrinking

  5. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 10:06 am

    Sadly, notoriety/scandal would be the only thing other than a W-L record for which a coach would be remembered.

  6. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 10:07 am

    …what have you done for me lately?

  7. NorthShoreFan November 1, 2015 10:09 am

    Guud Morning Tsaikos…bootiful day.

    Sun is shinning, nice day today.

    ST, great piece.

    the program will never get better unless all the supporting entities that go into make a great program come together.
    meanwhile the kids are doing their best and making the commitment each day. coach is turning out some good kids.
    so is the “bottom line” dollars, wins or graduation rates? all of the above. they say it takes money to make money but there’s no financial commitment here and if dollars = wins then we left with graduation rates and solid kids ready for life after school.


  8. Old School Dave November 1, 2015 10:10 am

    Well said, ST. Bottom line comes down to wins and loses on the field. Nice try and coach was given a lot of time (4 seasons) to make things work, but it didn’t work out. It’s time to “move forward” for the players and program.

  9. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 10:12 am

    Nonetheless, I shall be at this week’s road game.

    GO Bows!


    56 – 14 Akamai Okole

  10. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 10:13 am

    “Take” all you can get!

  11. moocher November 1, 2015 10:13 am

    He did a lot of good and gave the kids a lifetime of wins off the field by way of friendships, bonds, graduating, experiences, etc. He just couldnt get the wins on the field. But for all those unmeasurable wins I respect coach for that.

    Sad to say but its his choice to exit respected or hated. I have a feeling he will step down and hand over his duties on his own doing. Hes a good guy that tried his best. Wins didnt come on the field but he kept the program clean. Thanks coach.

  12. NorthShoreFan November 1, 2015 10:14 am

    a Mililani running back said it best..”football is a team sport….”

  13. moocher November 1, 2015 10:18 am

    ST…are you laying the groundwork for “breaking news”

  14. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 10:20 am

    Several years ago, KHNL decided to start a news station. It had everything — NBC affiliation, top anchors (Lee Cataluna, Dan Cooke) and sports staff (Robert Kekaula and Neil Everett).
    And it didn’t work out.
    There’s so much talent on this team. The coaches have admirable resumes.
    Yet …
    I’m not sure if it’s the schedule, excessive travel, synergy, bad juju or whatever.
    It just hasn’t worked out this year.

  15. NorthShoreFan November 1, 2015 10:25 am

    agreed, we have the talent. it might be trying to do too much. each component needs to focus on execution and responsibility.

  16. azwarrior22 November 1, 2015 10:28 am

    10:28 a.m. Hawaiian time…Waiting for breaking news.

  17. inuulu November 1, 2015 10:32 am

    I so wanted Norm to do well being a local boy. When a local person does well there is a certain amount of pride we all feel. But it’s not to be for Coach Chow. Do the right thing for the program coach and retire knowing that you tried your best. Don’t do the ama’a crab syndrome where if you going down so is everyone else. Your last action will be what everyone remembers most. As Tsai said you did do a lot of good for the program, but the bottom line is what counts unfortunately.

  18. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 10:36 am

    Whatever happens, these things need to be done in the future:
    > Lawmakers have to pony over more money without strings attached. Sports are important to people living in the middle of an ocean. And because we’re in the middle of the sea (I just said that aloud in my Cazimero Brothers’ voice), it takes money. Pay the money — it covers Title IX costs, which affects everybody — and, please, no more informational hearings every time UH cuts a big check.
    > Recruit, recruit, recruit. The WAC downsized by half in 1999, and then it was diluted even more a decade ago. The MWC is a better conference. UH needs to keep adding quality players, maybe even going down to Australia, to build depth.
    > Pick a plan, any plan, and stick with it.

  19. Former UH Athlete November 1, 2015 10:39 am

    It’s Sunday, there won’t be any breaking news.

  20. Boya_jr November 1, 2015 10:40 am

    Sounds like Tsai’s kiss of death.

  21. NorthShoreFan November 1, 2015 10:43 am

    ST, well stated…problem is “da hui’ won’t leave things alone. don’t have the patience to wait and develop…imho

    “Cazimero Brothers’ voice”…you have one?…only heard the “Lion” voice so far…

  22. Darren November 1, 2015 10:43 am

    Best wishes to Coach Chow. It’s obvious that he’s poured everything he has into this program. And it’s even more obvious, to me at least, that he absolutely loves his players. I definitely don’t expect him to step down…that’s just not him. But it’s also very apparent that the time is now to move on.

  23. Old School Dave November 1, 2015 10:46 am

    Don’t forget recruiting up North in Canada. There are a lot of good players up there. California, Texas, Florida are also areas UH needs to recruit hard. So many talented high school and JUCO players in those parts. Utah made leaps and bounds by expanding their recruiting into Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. You also need coaches who are fanatical about recruiting and know how to utilize social media and technology in this day and age.

  24. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 10:46 am

    The media relations director is at Princeville relating or directing a golf tournament. His understudy will be handling the UH-UNLV football game.
    I was so looking forward to a peaceful week where I would cover football, win MegaBucks and build a house with a bat pole and bouncy room.

  25. Willie November 1, 2015 10:47 am

    Yes a lot of positive traits are listed, some touchy feel kine. Intelligence is one trait mentioned. But I wonder in what frame of reference this applies? Reason I ask is that there were so many deficiencies lacking in Coaching 101 that happened through the season, makes me wonder if the intelligence quotient was applied here.

    These are a few “ah type” wonders to name a few. Leaving timeouts on the table that you cannot carry forward to the 2nd half or the next game, mismanaging the clock, attributing a ground and pound onslaught to the inability of scout team backs to simulate the opponents running back speed, crucial time late in a game where a field goal probably ensures victory and on third down not giving your kicker the best possible angle; NFL teams do it, college teams do it, even high school teams do it but Chow says it was not important on the ball position for Sanchez’s attempt and just last night on the 2nd AFA non qualifying TD to challenge or at a minimum call time out to allow for a booth review. There are more that perhaps others can remember.

  26. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 10:48 am

    … And a Whiffle Ball Stadium.
    That’s the dream.
    Although it was pretty cool to stay at Grand Sierra in Reno last week. Nothing like taking an elevator to a casino or 24-hour Starbucks.

  27. Da Punchbowl Kid November 1, 2015 10:48 am

    Excellent post.


  28. Old School Dave November 1, 2015 10:49 am

    How’s the saimin and chicken katsu at the California Hotel?

  29. cocobean November 1, 2015 10:50 am

    I’ve always said I have a lot of respect and aloha for Chow the person. His heart is always in the right place for his players and for the State. He wanted to come home and build a program, create true football culture. A program and culture that had a symbiotic relationship between the important elements of a successful program – the players, coaches, student body, school administration, fan base, government and business. A program that can withstand the cylindrical nature of winning and losing. Take a look at the “traditional” football programs, they all have this. Boise is a middie that has it also.

    Chow had the right vision and his heart was in the right place. As we watched Chow’s attempt to do what he intended to do, we all know he won’t succeed. AS Paul Harvey would say….stay tuned to the rest of the story.

  30. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 10:56 am

    Miano and I debated the timeout situation during the New Mexico game. He felt UH shouldn’t leave timeouts. But when I reviewed the last series, its appeared the clock kept stopping, anyway, because of incompletions and penalties. I suppose the timeouts were needed if UH got into field-goal range. But, again, the incompletions and penalties ended that hope.
    As for other decisions, if they work, they’re good decisions, if they don’t, they’re not. It’s like when the basketball player shoots a long 3. “Noooo, noooo … oh, nice shot.”

  31. Come on, Man! November 1, 2015 10:56 am

    “When it’s all said and done — and that might be sooner than later — he also should be remembered for more than his on-field record.”

    he should, but most likely he won’t. I think ST brings up an interesting point about what it means to be a public figure. A vast majority of us know norm chow as “football coach.” and that’s all that we define him as. Our only interactions with the man are really one sided based off of press conference clips, statements in the paper, and his demeanor in the game.

    I’m sure that norm chow is a great human being who wants to do what’s right. But to us, Norm Chow isn’t necessarily a real person. He’s a football coach and therefore he’s defined by the win/loss record of his football team. It’s almost like when you turn 21 and you see your old high school teacher drinking at a bar with his/her friends. it’s like “wait. mr. so and so is an actual REAL person, with a real life, and interests and an existence outside of the classroom.”

    to us, that’s all norm chow is: a football coach. therefore, if the team is unsuccessful (like it is now, and unsuccessful is an understatement), we will hate on him. He’s arrogant. Doesn’t want to change. too old. etc. winning changes all that.

    i’m not saying this is good or bad. it just is. and norm chow understood what he was getting himself into, image-wise, money situation, travel, etc etc, when he took the job.

  32. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 10:59 am

    And for those travelling for the game this week.

    The weather going be chilly. Plan on staying where it is always 72 and clear.

    It’s SEMA Week. High table minimums and hard to find taxi (and Uber fo that matter)

    3:00pm kickoff. Regardless of temperature, we going be sitting in the sun all game. (Did someone mention it’s a desert?)

  33. 3-Prong November 1, 2015 11:08 am

    Old School Dave: Don’t know about the chicken but 3-Prong puts his stamp of approval on the “off the menu, only after midnight” Wonton Min at the Triple 7 Bar at Main Street over the Cals Saimin.

  34. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 11:09 am

    I saw Chow in the hotel lobby in Houston, sitting on a couch, as he was desperately trying to get updates on his wife’s condition. His family told him to stay, that there was nothing that he could do at her side, but he was torn. He had to weigh the needs of 100 players, coaches and staff against his own personal life.
    He ended up doing both, visiting with her in California and also not missing any games.
    Now Chow and I always get into it. He introduces me as a “pain in the ass,” and I think he’s a PITA, too. But he’s also helpful and accommodating, treats me fairly, and I see first-hand he really cares about his players, coaches and staff.
    Change is probably inevitable, but I also want people to know that, in the words of Charlie Wade, he’s a “good dude.”

  35. Old School Dave November 1, 2015 11:10 am

    Mahalo 3-Prong. Thanks for the info.

  36. el burro sabio November 1, 2015 11:11 am

    Whomever spoke for me, don’t speak for me. I don’t want Miano as the head coach.

  37. Willie November 1, 2015 11:12 am

    #29ST, appreciate this perspective. True on decisions that work, then they are always the right ones.

    I just have a major issue on the field goal attempt late in the New Mexico game. Almost everyone in football knows that on shorter field goal attempts, typically 25 yds and in, the right hash is a more difficult try. As noted NFL teams, college teams and even high school teams will run to the middle or the left hash to set up the kick. There is absolutely no guaranty that Sanchez would have made it from other than the right hash; Sanchez even was quoted that this was a difficult try (sure he was referring to the angle). Even more of an issue was Chow’s IMO asinine reply that getting the ball to the middle of the field for the 22 yard attempt was not important. Is this reply by Chow based on intelligence, arrogance, ignorance or just that he made a mistake? I lied in that I would not bring this up again, but if you truly do support and love your players, why not give best chance at being successful?

  38. st. anthony trojan November 1, 2015 11:13 am

    Physically we have the talent…Me agree there…but mentally we do not have it…for whatever reason…

    Me thinks…his first year here…when they walked in the stadium arm in arm…said sumthing about his style…n when he took away the captain position away from his QB…. after the players voted for him…he was doomed…never heard that ever happened b-4… but it might have happened b-4…

    We have to remember….every other coach here…has the samr problems he has had…working with the admin…and lacking of facilities…them are just excuses rally…we have to remember…2 former coaches called him out…one for excuses…other for loyalty to staff coach…

    His good works with the athletes…other then on the field…speaks for itself…however that is not the problem…n that is where he failed…4 years is enough for most fans…and have to really thank the almost 16,000 that showed the warriors support…we just need 34,000 more for game day…n that may come with wins…

    JJ on the other hand…(love him or hate him) knew how to motivate players… n with his system…put people in them seats…for a sport fan….we only remember a coach…for his win n lost record…unfortunate as it may be…

  39. Former UH Athlete November 1, 2015 11:15 am


    If you’re talking about Aloha Specialties, it’s average at best. I don’t know why that place stays so busy…. Why people from Hawaii fly 5.5 hrs to eat average plate lunch food I don’t know.

    There is a new noodle restaurant that’s good at the Cal. It’s at the former Pasta Pirate location on casino level.

  40. Willie November 1, 2015 11:20 am

    To clarify, right hash more challenging for a right footed kicker on shorter attempts and vice versa for a lefty. UH Warrior kicker Sanchez is a righty.

  41. Old School Dave November 1, 2015 11:20 am

    If there’s a committee to hire a new coach, which is likely, it needs to be made up of UH Football guys. People like Wagner, Tomey, Untermann, Gaison, Tanuvasa. Ideally, I’d like the AD to just conduct the search and make the hire.

  42. Come on, Man! November 1, 2015 11:25 am

    “#29ST, appreciate this perspective. True on decisions that work, then they are always the right ones.”

    I disagree. this is outcome oriented thinking versus process oriented. yeah, you can throw up that 27 foot three pointer five seconds into the shot clock with a guy’s hand in your face, but even if you make it, the decision making was still poor. it just happened to work at the time.

    even bad decisions may yield positive results, but now let’s see that player jack up that three throughout the season and see how successful he is. process oriented versus outcome oriented.

    example 2: say a team is on their own half yard line and it’s 4th and 15. game is tied with 6 minutes left to play. coach decides to go for it and good god, they convert!

    it’s still a TERRIBLE decision when you factor the risk/reward of it (considering how much time is left, win probability if you convert versus if you don’t convert, etc), it just happened to work.

    i’m not gonna comment on whether chow’s decision to not use timeouts were good or bad, becuase i honestly have no idea, but an analysis of his decision making process as a coach needs to go deeper than “well. it worked so it was a great call” or “well. it didn’t work, so it was a bad call.”

  43. Balko November 1, 2015 11:26 am

    I’ve mentioned it before on this blog and will remind you that UH athletics budget woes are tiny compared to the rest of UH.

    What people here don’t recognize is UH faculty bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants each year that float the state’s economy. And those very departments that fund a substantial part of the state’s economy have been terribly underfunded for about 20 years.

    Any increase in the athletics department budget will have to be met with a proportional increase in the broader UH budget, lest there be a nasty fight at the legislature.

    This partially is why former Gov. Abercrombie tried to raise money by taxing pensions. The money needed to run the state is just not there under current taxing methods.

    You can complain about waste, fraud and abuse in Hawaii government spending, but that is chump change compared to what is needed to fully fund the university.

    Having a university is expensive. The state has been unable to properly fund it for at least two decades.

    If you want nice things, taxpayers are going to have to pay more, a lot more in taxes.

  44. Akamai Okole November 1, 2015 11:42 am

    Best wishes to Coach Chow.

    Good Luck Coach Naeole!

    Let’s Go Bows!

  45. Bugaz November 1, 2015 11:47 am

    Was bound to happen. Hope we get a good replacement.

  46. Brandon November 1, 2015 11:50 am

    chow has been officially fired!!!!

  47. Stephen Tsai November 1, 2015 11:50 am

    New post: http://hawaiiwarriorworld.com/?p=34028

  48. oldtimer808 November 1, 2015 11:51 am

    A very good article Mr. Tsai. I appreciate your insight on Coach Chow. He tried his best but it’s time to go. Our players are conflicted and confused from this downward spiral. I’m sure the players have a feeling of guilt and putting too much pressure on themselves as the losses continue to grow. The players need to breathe again and let go of all this negativity. I wish Coach Chow the best because he did put his players first.

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