The Rainbow Warriors football team has been traveling for 11 days on a trip covering nearly 10,000 miles, seven airports and six time zones, but head coach Norm Chow is probably fairly happy he has not had a moment to sit down. His seat has become scalding hot.
The Warriors are among only five Division I teams without a win this season. The other teams toiling in the group well below mediocrity are: Georgia State, Southern Miss, Connecticut and Miami (OH). Not exactly a posse you want to be mixed up with.
Chow and the Warriors are coming off an uncompetitive 47-10 trouncing by the hands of Utah State — a middle-of-the-pack Mountain West team that will be satisfied with a low-level bowl game at seasons end.
After the loss, Chow caused a commotion on the islands when Brad Rock of Desert News reported the UH head coach saying, “I don’t know. I’m too old for this. I’m way too old for this. I had fun as an assistant. I don’t know about all this stuff.”
Chow said it was a “tongue-in-cheek” remark, but surely the 67-year-old Chow did have more fun as an assistant. He garnered national assistant coach of the year honors three times, served as offensive coordinator for three national championship teams — BYU in 1984 and USC in 2003 and 2004 — and received praise as one of football’s offensive masterminds. He coached star quarterbacks Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. Detmer, Palmer and Leinart won Heisman Trophies under his tutelage.
When Chow was hired by UH in 2012, fans expected the masterful offensive system Chow had orchestrated in the past. However, as a head coach he has mustered only three wins over 20 games – two of those wins against Division II Lamar and South Alabama.
The offense ranked 120th in total offense in 2012, and so far during the winless 2013 campaign the Warriors rank dead last among Mountain West teams in a half-dozen statistical areas, including total offense, scoring offense and pass defense.
The Warriors enter today’s game against Navy and its 9th ranked running attack heavy underdogs and will likely be one step closer to a winless season when the final second tick off the clock in Annapolis.
The last time a Hawaii team went 0-12 was in 1998 under Fred vonAppen.
Hugh Yoshida, UH athletic director at the time, fired vonAppen — who had a year left on his contract — because of waning support from the local fan base, which UH is so dependent upon. Both season ticket sales and home game attendance plummeted during that winless campaign, and similar signs can be seen now.
The Warriors have showed spurts of potential for a quarter or two, but nothing that Chow or his staff can hang their hats on. Even the most passionate UH fans have to think twice before paying a pay-per-view charge to watch the Warriors on TV, or possibly more to sit in a half-empty stadium, crossing their fingers that the Warriors can pull through against pedestrian teams like San Diego State (4-4), Wyoming (4-4) or Army (3-6).
College football is much different than the NFL. There is always the excuses of the coach not having “his guys” and needing time to install a system and invigorate a new culture in the locker room.
All are very valid excuses, but only to an extent. When is it time for a program to cut its losses and go in a different direction?
Nearing the end of the second year of a five-year contract, Chow has done little to prove he can be a head coach — the guy making all of the calls.
“We’re going to win football games,” said Chow when he was introduced last year. “We’re going to chase championships.”
For some reason, I feel lied to.