By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
All around college football yesterday, coaches anxiously sat by their fax machines on national letter of intent day ... and waited.
Meanwhile in Kahala, Dick Tomey took a morning jog and then leaned back in his living room chair and listened to Cecilio & Kapono on CD.
For the first time in nearly 40 years of coaching, there were no recruits to woo, no commitments to fret over or last-minute surprises for Tomey to lament.
"The last time I wasnt sweating things out on letter of intent day? Tomey, thumb and forefinger on chin, pondered out loud, "That was, well, gosh, in 1962 or 63, when I was a GA (graduate assistant)" running errands for Bo Schembechler.
A lifetime ago really for a man who spent the last quarter-century as head coach at either the University of Hawaii or Arizona, compiling a combined 158-110-7 record. One of only three coaches the late Bear Bryant and George Welsh are the others to be the winningest head coach at two schools.
For the first time in his professional life, the 62-year-old Tomey is a man of extended leisure, somebody without a coaching job, a school or even an immediate plan having resigned after the Wildcats last game, a loss to Arizona State to end, at 5-6, a rare losing season.
But to the people who pass him on his rounds, breaking into broad smiles of recognition, Tomey is still "Coach." He is fondly recalled for presiding over UH football at a time, in the late 1970s and early 80s, when Saturday nights at Aloha Stadium were a happening for 40,000-plus. He is remembered for his fire walking, his "apples and oranges" insurance commercial and meat-and-potatoes approach to winning through defense and special teams.
Maybe that is part of what makes his current leisure seem so incongruous with the man we knew. Tomey, the man always focused on a mission, is finally taking a breather, somebody with the better part of three months here to do all the things golf, hike and visit friends that the demands of a career in coaching never quite afforded all in one visit.
While his wife, author Nanci Kincaid, works on a book, Tomey says he plans to take in UHs spring practice and look for a job as a television college football analyst. He says he has no current interest in a job in athletic administration.
"That (TV) is the only thing I know for sure that I would like to do," Tomey said. "But I dont have any indication at this point that is gonna happen. I have some overtures, some tapes out there and well see. Beyond that, Im just gonna wait and see how I feel. Certainly, I havent closed my mind to coaching again."
There is, Tomey maintains, no bitterness on how his tenure ended in Tucson. "Oh, gosh, no. I had so many great experiences and was fortunate to be there for 14 years and meet so many great people. I was so fortunate in my (head coaching) career to have stayed at two places for such an elongated period of time. You dont find that much anymore. I think with the Internet, the talk shows and peoples insatiable desire to have good things happen all the time it is real hard."
In the meantime, Tomey says he looks at this as a homecoming and re-energizing. "Hawaii has always felt like home to me more than the place I was born (Indiana), more than the place I was living in Arizona. It has always felt good to me. I always felt my heart and soul were here. That probably angered some people in Arizona because I very openly said that I always felt like my heart and soul are here. Arizona is a great place, but this is a unique place."
And for the first time in nearly 40 years of national signing days, that most intense of non-game days for a football coach, there was time to reflect on it.
[back to top]