Yes, yes, I know Louisiana-Monroe and Hawaii are playing on senior night but, let’s face it, UH has shifted the topic to … Rolo!
A look at the hiring:
> The field: This was one of those tests in which there were no wrong answers. The five finalists — Nick Rolovich, June Jones, Rich Miano, Brian Norwood and Rich Ellerson — are former UH players with strong Hawaii ties. Ellerson has been a head coach and co-creator of the famed Desert Swarm defense that once vaulted Arizona to No. 1 nationally. Norwood has been instrumental in the success of programs from Penn State to Baylor. Jones is an offensive genius. Miano is a sharp coach who would have boosted fund-raising. Rolovich is sharp, innovative and, as former UH receiver Greg Salas said, “relatable.”
> The style: AD David Matlin said he went into the search process with an open mind. He also had analyzed what worked in UH’s football history. In the past 30 years,the Warriors were at their best when they ran an offense that was different from the majority — the triple option under Bob Wagner/Paul Johnson and the four-wide under Jones/Ron Lee/Rolovich. Rolovich had some of the best mentors — City College of SF legend George Rush, Jones, Lee, Mouse Davis and Chris Ault. Rolovich also picked up a lot during his time in the Arena Football League. As Matlin said: “I think great leaders come from great mentors.” Matlin was impressed with the different styles of offenses that Rolovich can run.
> The timing: A former UH assistant coach referred to the “Dino Babers Effect.” Babers was a candidate for the UH coaching job four years ago, just as Kenny Niumatalolo was 16 years ago. Both were highly regarded assistant coaches. UH passed on both. By the time Chow was fired, Niumatalolo (the highest paid federal employee) was out of UH’s range. So, too, was Babers, who is on track for a power-5 conference head coaching job. All signs point to Rolovich becoming a very good head coach. In the buy low/sell high strategy, if UH waited for the next opening, Rolovich would have been on to bigger and better jobs. It’s easy to see Rolo having a long career at UH.
> The selection: Four years ago, everybody claimed to pick Chow. Now, everybody is like: “It was your idea.” This time, there is no debate. Matlin is claiming full ownership of the selection.
> Q factor: In marketing, there is the Q factor that rates popularity. Everybody likes Rolo. If you don’t like Rolo, then something is wrong with you. After Jones was told he would not be hired, he sent us this note: “Rolo is one of my favorite players I ever coached. He will do an outstanding job for the university and our state.”
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The last time Louisiana-Monroe played here, it was known as Northeast Louisiana. But that’s not what you remember. You remember the Warhawks’ game-winning, hook-and-ladder (hook-and-lateral?) play.
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Yep, the Warriors will be playing Down Under to open the 2016 season.
Sure, it will be a tough start to open with back-to-back road games in Sydney and then Ann Arbor. But it should boost recruiting in that country for all sports, and, let’s face, it’s an awesome trip.