UH football: Play-calling role fits Smith

Reunited — Ashley Lelie, Craig Stutzmann, Nick Rolovich, Channon Harris, Tafiiti Uso and Brian Smith
Reunited — Ashley Lelie, Craig Stutzmann, Nick Rolovich, Channon Harris, Tafiiti Uso and Brian Smith

The thing about Nick Rolovich is he does not make rash decisions. And, after months of pondering, Rolovich promoted running backs coach/run-game coordinator Brian Smith to offensive coordinator and associate head coach.

The move is significant. It means Smith will call the offensive plays and that Rolovich will not. It also means that if anything happens to Rolovich, Smith is in charge of the program.

Rolovich and Smith were roommates and UH teammates in the early 2000s, student managers under June Jones, and assistant coaches during Greg McMackin’s four-year tenure as head coach.

“He’s one of my best friends in the world, but that’s not why I did it,” Rolovich said of choosing Smith as associate head coach. “I looked at everybody on the staff (for the position). Everybody’s here for a reason. I’m happy everyone is here. … If I got struck by lightning, or whatever, who is the guy who will run the football team most like myself or in the way that I would like it run? When I came to the decision, it was Brian.”

Here’s a look at the move:

> The opening: After Zak Hill resigned after 48 days as OC/quarterbacks coach, Rolovich considered several coaching models, including serving as the play-caller himself. But in the past month, Rolovich began to feel he could not focus fully on running an offense and overseeing the entire football operations. “It would be unfair to do a half-assed job for these kids,” said Rolovich, noting the offensive players’ offseason dedication needed to be rewarded with a full-time OC. “Because of the way they were working, they deserved someone who was solely responsible for the offense.”

> The candidates: With Chris Naeole wanting to focus on coaching the offensive line, Rolovich evaluated Smith, receivers coach Kefense Hynson, and quarterbacks coach/pass-game coordinator Craig Stutzmann for the job as lead play-caller. “I thought Brian was the choice that could tie the (offense’s) room together, and have a strong presence, and make decisions,” Rolovich said.

> Qualifications: As a UH center, Smith made the blocking calls and was the calm Yin to line coach Mike Cavanaugh’s boisterous Yang. Smith’s high football IQ and quiet passion for the sport drew praise from June Jones, Mike Riley, Cavanaugh, and Mouse Davis. Soon after being hired as UH head coach, Greg McMackin targeted three young coaches for his staff: Smith, Rolovich and Dave Aranda. When Norm Chow was looking for an offensive assistant two years ago, he strongly considered Smith — whom he had never coached with but was highly recommended — before choosing Wayne Moses. Rolovich did not hesitate when he was picked as Chow’s successor. Rolovich’s first hire was Smith.

> Always learning: In 2009, Smith was moved from co-line coach to running backs coach. “With any position you take in football, it’s going to go back to how well you can teach (and) how well you can relate to players,” Smith said. “I don’t think you’ve had to play a position in order to coach it.” In 2010, under Smith’s coaching, Alex Green set a UH single-game record with 327 rushing yards. That year, Green rushed for 1,199 yards, averaging 8.2 yards per carry.

> How it will work: During games, Smith and Hynson will be in the coaches’ booth, while Rolovich, Stutzmann and Naeole will be on the field. Rolovich said Smith and Hynson have “great minds and will work well together up there.” Stutzmann will serve as analyst/psychologist for the quarterbacks. The Warriors did not have an on-the-sidleline QB coach the past couple years. Smith said his offense will involved elements of the read-option Rolovich used as Nevada’s OC the past four years, four-wide concepts the Warriors ran for 13 years under Jones and McMackin, and run/pass option that is widespread in college football these days.


  1. haka July 14, 2016 9:35 am

    Congrats Coach Smith!
    Go Warriors!

  2. bowwar July 14, 2016 9:35 am

    Foist…It’s a wise move…Given the choices…I think Smith will have an opportunity to prove he’s a good Offensive Coordinator.

  3. Stephen Tsai July 14, 2016 9:36 am

    What’s up with the LOUD pop-up video?
    Hey, the blog host is a heart patient. We can’t have sudden, loud movements.

  4. bowwar July 14, 2016 9:36 am

    Oh well…Second ain’t bad…

  5. bowwar July 14, 2016 9:36 am

    Whoose pop-up video?

  6. Stephen Tsai July 14, 2016 9:40 am

    I was minding my own business and — whammo! — there was a loud voice coming from my laptop. Now, usually, the voices are just in my head, but this was a pop-up ad.

  7. Annoddah Dave July 14, 2016 10:03 am

    ST & Tsaiko Blog Dogs:
    At first glance on the TV news announcement of the OC, it looked like Rolo who gained 50#s and without the 5 o’clock shadow. Then, after a closer look it was Brian. I guess it was the hat…but, I swear they sure have the same facial profile. I guess when you are roomies, you start to look like each other. LOL

  8. haka July 14, 2016 10:10 am

    Love the new roster additions!
    Nice to have Samoa DL bodies available!
    Mad Maxwell is the new down under star!
    Freddie is the Holly holy dream!
    Da Cole bruddahs at QB are athletic diamonds in the turf!
    Ursua glad John is going to be beasting it this year!
    Gonna get a kick outta Yaffe!
    Let’s Go Warriors!

  9. turfwar July 14, 2016 10:16 am

    http://statenews.com/article/2015/12/born-in-michigan-with-spartan-parents-but-a-player-for-alabama From previous blog. The graduate OL walk-on Chris Posa from Alabama has a story that is pretty interesting as it involved a local kid who went to MSU and played under Saban. Carter Kamana. Man that’s a name from the past. He the brother of John Kamana a highly recruited RB who I think ended up at USC.

  10. Justin July 14, 2016 10:25 am

    UH’s first game against Cal has UH as a 21 1/2 point underdog.
    I have a strange feeling UH will win outright. Must stay focused on game and
    NOT get caught looking ahead to the BIG MICHIGAN game the following week
    where they are a 42 point underdog. UH will surprise a lot of people this year.

    GO BOWS!!!

  11. islandman July 14, 2016 10:41 am

    Who will be in the booth for the defense ? Lempa ? Who signals in the play calls to the defense on the field ? Who signaled in last year ?
    Who will signal in the plays to the offense ? Stutz and the backup QB’s ?

  12. islandman July 14, 2016 10:42 am

    UH ran out of gas as the season(s) progressed. Too many tough teams in the beginning of each season.

  13. Inyoface July 14, 2016 10:51 am

    Noticed Ikaika is going to represent Hawaii at the MWC Media day. Does that mean he’ll be the starter?

  14. Arcumfortis July 14, 2016 11:40 am

    I like Rolo very much and am inspired with the way he has approached his HC role so far. As best as I know I also like Brian Smith very much.

    I am a little nervous about best friends having a work relationship that is hierarchical. It’s hard to be your best friend’s boss. I hope this works out OK. If it does I will be delighted. If something quirky happens over time I would not be shocked. Rolo is a new head coach and there is much to learn. I wish both he and Brian the very best. I’m just a little nervous about the mixture of personal and business relationships.

  15. H-Man July 14, 2016 11:41 am

    Underdog? I’m picking UH to WIN !!!

  16. Akamai Okole July 14, 2016 12:00 pm

    Great Afternoon All!

    Often any decision is far better than no decision.

    Good, bad, indifferent….what the Coach says, goes.


  17. Akamai Okole July 14, 2016 12:01 pm


    Your premonition sounds great!

    As I was telling another Tsaiko today…I jus like feel like, “Get Chance!”

  18. tom-warriornation July 14, 2016 12:05 pm

    Anyone need tickets to the game at San Diego St. on Nov 5; I got a block of 150 seats behind our UH team bench at the 30-40 yd line ($27 each)–UH ticket office price is $30.

    Email: tomkitaguchi@yahoo.com or text me at 415-324-0585.

  19. haka July 14, 2016 12:07 pm

    Through the roar of the frenzied fans,
    The echoes resounding off of the Halawa Valley walls,
    The voice of Jim Leahy sends chills of euphoria,
    “Hawaii Wins! Hawaii Wins!”
    I’m with H-Man!

  20. Da Punchbowl Kid July 14, 2016 1:18 pm

    The choice of Smith makes sense. He and Rolo share a lot of things in common. I like Rolo’s thought process in this and many other things he has shown as a coach thus far.

    Everything happens for a reason. The stars are aligned. Time for some big wins from the Warriors.


  21. Jason Valentin July 14, 2016 2:55 pm

    That’s great news! If you look at smith’s resume, when given the opportunity he succeeds! Was the RB’s coach when Alex green rushes for 1200 yards. OC at occidental and they ball out! Of course he is a really good friend of Rolo and like he said if anything were to happen to him he knows that the team would be in good hands! I like that Rolo named somebody the OC rather than him as well so he can concentrate on the whole team, game management, etc.. Only time will tell how it will work out but am confident in Rolo’s decisions!

  22. C-Pop July 14, 2016 3:13 pm

    In the coaching profession “loyalty” is critical! Hope their friendship doesn’t get in the way of business! Egos must be checked at the door! Good luck Warriors you’ll need it against a “Nasty” early schedule against Power 5 teams…ouch!!!

  23. SteveM July 14, 2016 4:08 pm

    Congrats to Associate Coach Brian Smith!

    A good choice for Rolo. His college football room mate, team mate, and fellow coach after that. Rolo’s first hire… a man who knows what he knows, and shares his vision for the team and game.

  24. burro sabio July 14, 2016 8:22 pm

    #14 AF it’s worse to work for your dad. You aren’t allowed to disagree or refuse.

  25. Hodad July 14, 2016 10:13 pm


    I think Lempa will be on the field. He’s a hands on guy.

  26. bowwar July 14, 2016 11:29 pm

    ST: The UH Football roster is posted, but whatever happened to the kicker, Jack Dineen, that supposedly was coming to UH?

  27. Stephen Tsai July 15, 2016 12:03 am

    Bow war:
    Not sure who said Dinneen was coming to UH but that was never the case.

  28. turfwar July 15, 2016 12:11 am

    https://twitter.com/jackdinneen1 His twitter says he verbaled. Played in Blue gray game so must be an accomplished kicker.

  29. Ipu Man July 15, 2016 7:41 am

    Hope UH blasts Cal Berkley to “Smithereens” 🙂

  30. Stephen Tsai July 15, 2016 7:51 am

    New post: http://hawaiiwarriorworld.com/?p=38188

Comments are closed.