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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, September 29, 2008

Booing the players just wrong

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

For all the records he set and comebacks he engineered, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Colt Brennan's three-year stay at quarterback with the University of Hawai'i was something that largely escaped him.

Brennan, now that you think about it, was never really booed by the Aloha Stadium throngs.

All the great Warrior quarterbacks pick a name: Michael Carter, Garrett Gabriel, Dan Robinson, Tim Chang, Nick Rolovich were, sad to say, turned upon by the home crowd at some point in their stay.

That didn't make it right in their day and sure didn't make it any more acceptable Saturday night when it happened to Inoke Funaki during a 20-17 Western Athletic Conference-opening loss to San Jose State.

When an errant pass the fifth of an eventual six UH turnovers was picked off with 10 minutes, 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the ugly wrath of the more vocal segment descended upon Funaki.

Just as placekicker Dan Kelly would be set upon later for missing, badly, on a 55-yard field-goal attempt.

Which was unfortunate because, through their body language, you could tell that Funaki and Kelly were already the most disappointed and thoroughly frustrated of the 36,766 on hand.

They have helped UH win in the past and didn't need or deserve to have their face masks rubbed in it by some of the very people they have worked so hard to capably represent on and off the field. Nor did you see what the booing would accomplish.

In Funaki's case, perhaps some of the verbal frustration was aimed at head coach Greg McMackin for not making a quarterback change sooner. If that was the situation, then the fans in the stands weren't alone in their second-guessing on that count. But it was hardly Funaki's fault that McMackin didn't make a change sooner.

And, how was Funaki to distinguish which boos were directed his way and which were not? Are they, like dog whistles, to be discerned only by coaches?

Not that either Funaki or Kelly would lament displeasure, publicly at least. For that is just who they are: solid, proud players dedicated to the task who demand even more of themselves.

Beyond the feelings of Funaki and Kelly, you also wonder what the prospective recruits at the game thought of the whole episode. What message did they take home Saturday night? Hearing Funaki booed like that could hardly have been encouragement to stay home and follow in his footsteps in front of some of the same fans.

There are any number of worthy traditions surrounding UH football. Booing the players need not be one of them.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.