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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UH has options to revamp coaching

By Ferd Lewis

A couple weeks ago when word first began circulating about impending changes in the University of Hawai'i football coaching staff, speculation was that it would be more a rearranging of titles than anything else.

And it still might be. But as applications have come in, talk around campus is that the quality of applicants is noteworthy, perhaps even sufficient to prompt additional changes.

Whether head coach Greg McMackin actually follows through with a substantial shakeup remains to be seen, of course, but suddenly he has more options arrayed in front of him.

And plenty to think about because, with the scheduled March 31 opening of spring practice, McMackin heads into the third and most critical year of his tenure as UH head coach.

The Warriors are 13-14 (8-8 WAC) in his two seasons and what they do this year will say a lot about his administration and UH's future.

McMackin's first season, 2008, was a year of rebuilding on the run and 2009 was derailed with injuries that exposed the Warriors' depth. But this year, with many of his players and his systems in place and a manageable schedule, the results will be most telling.

Which is why, you suspect, there will be some deliberation about the depth of coaching changes McMackin undertakes and how far he strays from his comfort zone.

Indeed, when McMackin assembled his staff 24 months ago he emphasized that he was hiring only people he knew or had worked with. Coaches he had confidence in. He took it to a level of personal association not seen by many of his predecessors in Mānoa.

The staff underwent two major changes after his first year both for the better with Gordie Shaw taking over the offensive line and Chris Tormey recasting special teams.

Then, McMackin made two more moves, both in-season, in 2009. After the opener he shifted offensive play calling duties from offensive coordinator Ron Lee to quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich and moved much of the defensive responsibilities from coordinator Cal Lee to line coach Dave Aranda, though McMackin never strayed very far from the trigger.

The upcoming round of changes, speculation had it, were to include giving Rolovich and Aranda the titles and money that came with their enhanced responsibilities. In addition, recruiting coordinator Tony Tuioti and defensive assistant George Lumpkin were expected to switch roles.

But because some of those changes involved formally advertising the positions, UH has had to see what the mail has brought. Now that they've seen some options and pondered the possibilities, it will be interesting to see what they make of them.