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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bury the hatchet if it's for the best


By Ferd Lewis

Is there a statute of limitations on being an "enemy" of University of Hawai'i athletic teams?

For instance, if you grew up here and played volleyball for UCLA or pretty much anything for Brigham Young is there a point in time at which past rivalry is forgiven?

In a state without capital punishment, where even murderers are eventually deemed to have paid their debt to society, what about ex-linebackers, setters and catchers, whose transgression was performing well in colors other than green and white?

The question comes up because, we're told, KFVE, which televises UH sports, is trying out several candidates for the position of color analyst on its volleyball broadcasts alongside Jim Leahey and one of them gasp! is a UCLA Hall of Famer.

The mere mention of Punahou School graduate and 2004 Olympian Stein Metzger as a possibility has apparently raised hackles around UH. While we're not quite sure what a hackle looks like, apparently they are slow to heal because it is going on 14 years now that Metzger last helped lead the Bruins to a national championship over the Warriors.

In the process, it will be painfully remembered , Metzger nosed out Yuval Katz for the 1996 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation player of the year award though the American Volleyball Coaches Association later named them co-national players of the year.

Yes, it was just that kind of a rivalry in the mid-1990s when UH played Boo-C-L-A before packed houses at the then-new Stan Sheriff Center and lost a five-set national championship match in Pauley Pavilion.

Metzger's case isn't the first time this question has come up. Five years ago, when former Wai'anae High and BYU standout Kurt Gouveia received a graduate assistant position on June Jones' football staff, many around UH were aghast.

Gouveia was a symbol of BYU's domination of the WAC and UH in the 1980s before going on to a 13-year career in the NFL where one of his stops was with Jones in San Diego.

When Gouveia's appointment was announced, a UH coach of another sport fumed, "the nerve of that guy coming here now."

Never mind that Gouveia went away because, in a classic recruiting error that would long haunt it, UH didn't offer him a scholarship.

Of course, you wouldn't catch UCLA folks looking favorably upon hiring a homegrown tormentor from USC or BYU taking on one from Utah, either.

Still, if you're UH or somebody representing it the bottom line should always be to hire the best person available. Sometimes even in spite of the memories.