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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 27, 2003

UH football program has a long way to go

Ever since the 1960s, the University of Hawai'i and its supporters have dreamed of establishing a first-class football program.

Too often the effort has pursued the first half of that goal — being first, with high numbers in the win column — at the expense of or even in spite of the second half — that is, class.

It was lack of class that marred what should have been a classic, unforgettable, nationally televised offensive shootout between UH and the University of Houston in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Day at Aloha Stadium. The state got a black eye instead of a needed boost.

There's blame to go around for the helmet-swinging, shoving and stomping melee that broke out at the end of Hawai'i's exciting 54-48 victory in triple overtime. But this sort of thing has happened too often of late for UH officials to indulge in the luxury of finger-pointing.

UH head coach June Jones is way off base in attributing these incidents to bad officiating. True, the officials will want to review their own actions during the game. But it's Jones' responsibility when his charges confuse aggressive play with taunting, showboating and personal fouls.

If Jones has forgotten the character-building aspect of coaching, it's the fault of his athletic director and the university's president, who have made him the state's highest-paid public official.

UH won't have a first-class football program until it begins turning out athletes with class.