Monday, December 31, 2012

Seven NFL head coaches fired in one day

Quite a day for NFL sacks.

Seven coaches and five general managers were fired Monday in a flurry of pink slips that were delivered the day after the regular-season ended.

There could be more, but so far the sent-packing scorecard looks like this:

Andy Reid in Philadelphia, Lovie Smith in Chicago, and Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona, all coaches who took teams to the Super Bowl, Norv Turner in San Diego, Pat Shurmur in Cleveland, Romeo Crennel in Kansas City and Chan Gailey in Buffalo.

Three teams made it a clean sweep, saying goodbye to the GM along with the coach — San Diego, Cleveland, Arizona. General managers also were fired in Jacksonville and in New York, where Rex Ryan held onto his coaching job with the Jets despite a losing record.

Reid was the longest tenured of the coaches, removed after 14 seasons and a Super Bowl appearance in 2005 — a loss to New England.

***

Chan Gailey didn't work out after three losing seasons, leaving the Buffalo Bills looking for their fifth head coach since 2001.

The Bills fired Gailey on Monday after he failed to deliver on his vow to transform a losing franchise into a playoff contender. Gailey's entire staff was fired, too, but the status of general manager Buddy Nix remained uncertain.

Gailey's teams lost twice as many games as they won, going 16-32 over three seasons. The Bills have now posted eight straight losing seasons, and closed with a second straight 6-10 mark after beating the New York Jets 28-9 on Sunday.

***

The Kansas City Chiefs are doing more than looking for a new coach after firing Romeo Crennel on Monday. They're changing the entire structure of the organization.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in an interview with The Associated Press that he will hire the next head coach and that person will report directly to him. That's a departure from the previous 53 years in Kansas City, where the head coach had always reported to the general manager.

Hunt relieved the 65-year-old Crennel of his duties after a 38-3 loss to Denver on Sunday that finished off a 2-14 season, tied for the worst in franchise history.

***

Before the ball dropped on a new year, the Browns said goodbye to another coach.

The same thing happened after seasons in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2010.

One day after another dismal, double-digit loss season ended, the Browns fired coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert, the initial offseason moves by new owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner, who intend to put a stop to the franchise's never-ending cycle of change. The Browns' next coach will be their sixth since 1999.

***
The Arizona Cardinals have fired coach Ken Whisenhunt after six seasons that included the long-suffering franchise's only Super Bowl appearance.  The team also ousted general manager Rod Graves, who had been with the franchise for 16 years. He'd been general manager since 2007.

The housecleaning by Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, son of team owner Bill Bidwill, followed a season that saw the team start 4-0 but lose 11 of its last 12 to finish 5-11.

The 50-year-old Whisenhunt had more wins than any other coach in Cardinals history, going 45-51, 4-2 in the playoffs. He had a year worth about $5.5 million left on his contract.  Of the team's three winning seasons the past 28 years, two came with Whisenhunt as coach.

***

Andy Reid's worst coaching season with the Philadelphia Eagles ended Monday after 14 years when he was fired by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who said it was time ''to move in a new direction.''

The dismissal came one day after Reid and the Eagles were humiliated 42-7 by the New York Giants and ended their season at 4-12.

***

The San Diego Chargers fired coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith on Monday after missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

Coming after a season of stunning come-from-ahead losses and increasing fan anger, the firings complete a startling fall for a team that won the AFC West from 2006-09.

The Chargers are the third team to fire Turner, who has an overall head coaching record of 114-122-1.

***

The Chicago Bears reached the Super Bowl under coach Lovie Smith and consistently boasted a formidable defense.

However, they missed the playoffs too many times, never solved their problems on offense and even after a 10-win season they are moving on without him.

The Bears fired Smith on Monday after the team missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons. General manager Phil Emery delivered the news to Smith on the day after the Bears beat Detroit to finish 10-6 but still didn't make the playoffs.

Hired in 2004, Smith led the 2006 team to the Super Bowl, but he also saw his team collapse in the second half of the past two seasons. He was let go with a year left on his contract, ending a nine-year run that produced an 81-63 record, three division titles and two appearances in the NFC championship game.

*** [1/4/13]

Kansas City names Andy Reid as head coach

*** [1/16/13]

In the end, Chip Kelly chose the NFL, giving the Philadelphia Eagles their guy.

The Eagles hired Kelly on Wednesday, just 10 days after he originally decided to stay at Oregon. The 49-year-old Kelly, known as an offensive innovator, becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season.

Kelly, 46-7 in four years at Oregon, interviewed with the Eagles, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills in a two-day span after leading the fast-flying Ducks to a victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

... Thanks Andy Reid.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jim Donovan named AD at Cal State Fullerton

[12/13/12] Jim Donovan has been named as the new California State University Fullerton athletic director, the school announced on its website this morning.

Donovan attended a press conference in Fullerton, Calif. with CSUF president Mildred Garcia.
Donovan served as the University of Hawaii's athletic director for 4 1/2 years until being relieved in the wake of the Steve Wonder concert fiasco in July.

He was assigned to a marketing position in the Manoa chancellor's office in August.

“I am very honored to have been offered the position of athletic director of California State University Fullerton," Donovan said in a written statement. "As I begin a new chapter in my life, I want to express my gratitude for the opportunities provided to me by the University of Hawaii – as a student athlete, a graduate and, most recently, as athletic director.

"UH is a great institution with an athletic department that means so much to our state and I want to thank the people of Hawaii for their support and encouragement over the years.

"I would also like to thank the Governor, legislators, donors, season ticket holders, staff and coaches for their commitment to UH Athletics. And I sincerely hope that everyone will continue to support the efforts of UH’s new athletic director, Ben Jay, because UH athletics and its student athletes deserve the unwavering support of the Hawaii community."

*** [9/12/14]

Jim Donovan — the Cal-State Fullerton athletic director — was justifiably overjoyed, like any father would be.

His pride is for his entire family. Like Josh, his daughter, Jackie, stuck things out as a UH student-athlete despite Donovan being ousted as athletic director two years ago. Also, their mother and his wife, Tracy Orillo-Donovan, made the best of a work situation that can best be described as extremely awkward.

The family is together physically only a few days a year, but remains close in other ways.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Gentleman Ed Francis

Coconut head butts. Steel-cage matches (complete with barbed wire). Exotic "lady wrestlers." Da Bull, a Wolf and a couple of Giants.

Oh, and don't forget Victor the Bear. As in grizzly.

From Kauai to the Big Island, and even to the tiny Kalaupapa peninsula on Molokai, local people ate up these spectacles and countless more as professional wrestling rode a wave of popularity in the 1960s and '70s. Fans embraced the sport with a passion matched only by what the grapplers brought to the ring night after night.

Pro wrestling already enjoyed a following in the islands when "50th State Big Time Wrestling" debuted on television in the early 1960s and sent its appeal into overdrive. The interview show kept viewers enthralled from week to week, ensuring there would be little problem packing the old Civic Auditorium, Hono­lulu International Center (now Blaisdell Arena) and other venues with fans eager to see the wrestlers they loved — and loved to hate.

The man who put pro wrestling on the airwaves was Edmund Francis, better known as "Gentleman Ed." A renowned wrestler himself, the Chicago native who grew up during the Depression came to Hawaii in 1961 with his wife and four sons, a $10,000 loan and the lofty goal of taking the sport to new heights of popularity.

Francis recounts the adventures of his two-decade stint as Hawaii's foremost pro wrestling promoter in his new book, "Gentleman Ed Francis Presents 50th State Big Time Wrestling!" (Watermark Publishing, $34.95). Many of the episodes in the memoir, written with Hawaii native Larry Fleece, seem too fantastic to be true — but in the supersized world of pro wrestling, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Teo finishes second in Heisman

NEW YORK >> The Heisman Trophy remained exclusively an offensive player award as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel out-pointed Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te‘o for the 78th annual award that symbolizes the most outstanding performer in the college game.

In a  beyond-remarkable season in which not much seemed to elude him, Te‘o, the Laie native, finished second in voting announced tonight at the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN.

"I definitely thought I could win and (the people who gave me) over 1,000 points thought the same thing," Te‘o said.

Manziel outpointed Te‘o, the Notre Dame linebacker, 2,029-1,706 to win the award emblematic of the most outstanding player in college football. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein was third with 894. Manziel had 474 first-place votes to 321 for Te'o and 60 for Klein.

Manziel became the first freshman to win the award, denying Te‘o the opportunity to become the first exclusively defensive player to win.

"I came a long way," Te‘o said afterward. "That's something to look at; I came a long way. They said that is the most points a defensive player has ever gotten, I guess. But you know, congratulations to Johnny. He deserves it. He had a wonderful season. I'm just relieved. Now it is time to get ready for battle (in the Jan. 7 Bowl Championship Series title game) against Alabama."

Te‘o, a team captain and heart of the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, led the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular season, the No. 1 spot in the major polls and a berth in the Jan. 7 BCS title game. 

He won six major postseason awards this season, breaking the mark of five set by Charles Woodson of Michigan in 1997.

Ben Jay named Hawaii AD

The University of Hawaii ended five months of turmoil, speculation and uncertainty for its sports programs by announcing Friday that an Ohio State University official will be its new athletic director.

Ben Jay, OSU's executive associate athletic director for finance and operations, will succeed Jim Dono­van.

Donovan was put on leave from his post as UH athletic director in July when the school launched an investigation into the promotion of a Stevie Wonder concert that never materialized. Although he would be cleared of misconduct, Dono­van never returned to his athletic director job, instead agreeing to a reassignment in Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple's office.

Apple chose Jay over Solo­mon "Solly" Fulp, the University of California's deputy director of athletics. An 11-member selection committee recommended Jay and Fulp as finalists.

UH announced the hiring at 3:19 p.m., when a mass email was distributed. Chang wrote in an email that Apple would not be available for an interview with the Star-Advertiser on Friday.

But in a video interview with Ka Leo o Hawaii, the UH student newspaper, Apple indicated Jay's "background in accounting and finance" was a factor in his hiring. Apple said Jay was in charge of a $135 million budget at Ohio State.

UH's athletic department budget is about $100 million smaller. The department has borrowed more than $10 million from a UH fund to cover revenue shortfalls the past decade.

"He is very aware of the deficit, and he has ideas on how to move us forward," Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji said.

Jay said, "One of the things is taking on challenges. I think if you ask (Ohio State athletic director) Gene Smith or any of my former bosses, that's something I enjoy. I like to try to tackle issues."

Jay said he expects to begin at UH in January.

Jay's father was born in Peru, then moved to China, where he was married. The couple then moved to the United States.

Jay was born and raised in Columbus, where his parents owned a mom-and-pop store near the Ohio State campus.

He is an Ohio State graduate with a bachelor's degree in accounting and master's in athletic administration.
He has worked as a minor league general manager and was director of operations for the Cleveland Indians. He was an assistant athletic director at Fairfield University before working 12 years as the Pac-10 Conference's commissioner for business and finance. In 2006 he returned to Ohio State.

Jay and his wife, Ling, have three children.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Jim Brown vs. Muhammad Ali

Jim Brown decided he wanted to fight then-heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

He also had a legendary reputation for his toughness. Given that Brown had introduced Arum to Ali, it was hard for Arum to say no without at least checking. Brown figured it was a slam dunk massive payday.

"So I went to talk to Ali," Arum recalls. "He says, 'Jim wants to do what? Bring him here.' So I took him to Hyde Park in London, where Ali used to run. Ali said, 'Jimmy, here's what we're going to do: You hit me as hard as you can.' So Brown starts swinging and swinging, and he can't hit him. He's swinging wildly and not even coming close. This goes on for, like, 30 seconds. Then Ali hits him with this quick one-two to his face. Jimmy just stops and says, 'OK, I get the point.'"

***

So he went up against Franco Harris instead.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

All-Time All-Hawaii Grown team

The idea for today, in conjunction with Billy Hull’s fine work in putting together the annual All-Hawaii Grown team, was to pick the greatest college football performers of all-time who played their high school football here in the islands. That was brutally difficult, almost as hard as choosing between Manti Te’o and Herman Wedemeyer for greatest ever.

Wedemeyer was known best as a shifty runner (and Sgt. Lukela on “Hawaii Five-0”). But his most impressive individual stat was 18 career interceptions, including nine in his sophomore year of 1945, when he was fourth in the Heisman voting. The 2012 leader in picks, Philip Thomas of Fresno State, has eight (in four more games). Te’o has seven this season, which is astonishing for a linebacker.

I’m copping out and naming them co-greatest. Maybe that changes this weekend if Te’o wins the Heisman, or next month if his Notre Dame team beats Alabama to finish as undefeated national champions.

Perhaps we will revisit this in a couple of years, especially after we see what Marcus Mariota does in the coming seasons. For now, this is my all-time starting team of college stars from Hawaii, with some advice from Kwon, Hull and Curtis Murayama (but please blame only me if you don’t like the choices):

Quarterback: Jason Gesser (Saint Louis/ Washington State).
Running back: Adrian Murrell (Leilehua/West Virginia).
Fullback: Bob Apisa (Farrington/Michigan State).
All-purpose: Tommy Kaulukukui (Hilo/Hawaii), Herman Wedemeyer (Saint Louis/Saint Mary’s).
Wide receiver: Ashley Lelie (Radford/Hawaii), Chad Owens (Roosevelt/ Hawaii), Jason Rivers (Saint Louis/Hawaii).
Tight end: Russ Francis (Kailua/Oregon).
Offensive line: Toniu Fonoti (Kahuku/Nebraska), Olin Kreutz (Saint Louis/ Washington), Chris Naeole (Kahuku/Colorado), Dominic Raiola (Saint Louis/Nebraska), Jesse Sapolu (Farrington/Hawaii).
Defensive line: Junior Ah You (Kahuku/Arizona State), Charlie Ane (Punahou/USC), Al Harris (Leilehua/Arizona State), Al Noga (Farrington/ Hawaii), Niko Noga (Farrington/Hawaii), Levi Stanley (Waianae/Hawaii).
Linebacker: Brian Cabral (Saint Louis/Colorado), Kurt Gouveia (Waianae/Brigham Young), Manti Te’o (Punahou/Notre Dame).
Defensive backs: Blane Gaison (Kamehameha/ Hawaii), Rich Miano (Kaiser/ Hawaii), Hal Stringert (Saint Louis/ Hawaii), Jeris White (Radford/Hawaii).
Kicker: Dick Kenney (‘Iolani/Michigan State).

***

[12/6/12] Manti Te'o wins Lombardi Award

Sunday, December 02, 2012

2012 Hawaii Warriors

[8/29/12] Bob Hogue predicts a 5-7 season

[8/31/12] The New Look Warriors

[9/1/12] Norm Chow Returns to the Coliseum Saturday to Make History

[9/1/12] Hawaii 10, USC 49

[9/15/12] Lamar 2, Hawaii 54

[9/22/12] Nevada 69, Hawaii 22

[9/27/12] Memories of Provo

[9/28/12] Hawaii 0, BYU 47

[10/2/12] Geordon Hanohano retires from football after neck injury

[10/7/12] Hawaii 14, San Diego State 52

[10/8/12] Despite its woes in the numbers game, the Hawaii football team is committed to the pro-set offense and man-press defense that were implemented this spring.

Out of 120 FBS schools, the Warriors' offense is 118th, with 266.60 yards per game. They are 110th in rushing (104.20 yards per game), 109th in passing (162.40), 107th in scoring (20.40) and 116th in third-down conversions (28.36 percent).

On defense, they are 87th (425.8 yards per game). They are good against the pass (211.80), poor against the run (214.0) and extremely generous in points allowed (43.80).

The Warriors have lost three in a row and are 1-4 overall entering this Saturday's homecoming game against New Mexico.

[10/13/12] New Mexico 35, Hawaii 23

[10/14/12] Warriors might go winless in the MWC

[10/15/12] Evaluation time

I wonder how Hawaii ranks among the teams in college football?  Well teamrankings.com has them at 118 (out of 124), ahead of Akron, S. Alabama, UMass, Idaho, Fla Atlantic, N Mex State.  They have their record at 0-5, so I guess they didn't count Lamar.  Their opponents?  USC (15), Nevada (62), BYU (52), San Diego State (80), New Mexico (74).  Alabama is the consensus #1 team in the nation, but teamrankings has them at #4.

Sagarin seems more accurate.  They have Hawaii at 147 (out of 246), USC (10), Lamar (213), Nevada (57), BYU (30), San Diego State (65), New Mexico (109).  Upcoming opponents: Colorado State (148), Fresno State (42), Boise State (20), Air Force (79), UNLV (132), South Alabama (170).

So Colorado State, UNLV, South Alabama should be winnable.  Especially the latter two since Colorado State is on the road.  Hawaii is currently ranked 9 out of 10 in the Mountain West (ahead of Colorado State).  I see that Wyoming is the only conference team not on their schedule.

[10/21/12] Despite not losing this week, Hawaii is down to #162 in the Sagarin rankings.  They are now ranked last in the Mountain West behind Colorado State.  They play Colorado State this week on the road and so should be the underdog.  Colorado State is ranked #141.

[10/27/12] Hawaii 27, Colorado State 42

[11/3/12] Hawaii 10, Fresno State 45

Hawaii's time will come, but when?

[11/10/12] Boise State 49, Hawaii 14
$47 for this?
How far things have fallen

[11/14/12] The inconvenient truths of UH football.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 1: Norm Chow isn’t going anywhere. That’s good news for supporters and bad news for detractors.
* Inconvenient Truth No. 2: This is the most talent-deprived team in decades.
* Inconvenient Truth No. 3: The 2012 Warriors are a MASH unit.
* Inconvenient Truth No. 4: Nick Rolovich isn’t the answer.
* Inconvenient Truth No. 5: The team has not improved.
* Inconvenient Truth No. 6 or Inconvenient Opinion No. 1: The coaching has been inadequate, especially when it comes to the lack of urgency in the second half.
* Inconvenient Truth No. 7: The program is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

[11/16/12] Hawaii 7, Air Force 21

The name "Air Force" emblazoned on the front of their uniforms was a great misnomer on a Friday night when the academy football team beat Hawaii with one hand essentially tied behind its back.

That would be the right, passing hand of Falcons quarterback Connor Dietz, who only raised his arm in victory -- and a couple of pump fakes.

Dietz never so much as put the ball in the 30-degree Rocky Mountain air and, still, the Falcons, daring the Warriors to stop them, were able to cooly come away with a 21-7 victory built around their relentless infantry and unyielding defense.

Sixty-eight offensive plays by Air Force, 68 runs and the Falcons (6-5) became bowl eligible and earned a trip to the Bell Helicopter Bowl.

It was the first time since 1992 the Falcons have gone without authoring a pass, and the first time UH has been beaten in the modern era (since leather helmets) by a foe that declined to take to the air.

[11/24/12] 10 UNLV, Hawaii 48.  For what was designated as a "freedom game," the Warriors were dressed to thrill in a 48-10 rout of UNLV before 22,070 at Aloha Stadium on Saturday night.

"To wear this," wide receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann said of the specially made red-white-and-blue uniforms, "and to play the way we did, it means so much. I can't stop smiling."  The UH jerseys are up for auction, with proceeds benefitting the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps severely injured military personnel resume an athletic life.

In ending an eight-game losing streak, the Warriors improved to 2-9 overall while claiming their first Mountain West Conference victory. They finish 1-7 in their inaugural MWC season.  The Rebels fell to 2-11 and 2-6.

[12/1/12] South Alabama 7, Hawaii 23.

Norm Chow could not have scripted a better season finale to his first year as Hawaii's head football coach.  The Warriors rolled up 410 yards of offense, held South Alabama to 2.6 yards per play and kicked three field goals in a 23-7 victory at Aloha Stadium.

The Warriors' second consecutive victory dulled the pain of a 1-9 start and served as a collective farewell present to 17 seniors.  It also was the first time since 2006 that the Warriors won their final game of the season.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Rick Majerus

Rick Majerus, the jovial college basketball coach who led Utah to the 1998 NCAA final and had only one losing season in 25 years with four schools, died Saturday. He was 64.

Utah industrialist Jon Huntsman, the coach's longtime friend, confirmed in a statement released through The Salt Lake Tribune that Majerus died of heart failure in a Los Angeles hospital.

Majerus said Nov. 19 that he wouldn't return to Saint Louis because of the heart condition. He ended the school's 12-year NCAA tournament drought last season with a 26-win team that won its opening game and took top regional seed Michigan State to the wire. The Billikens were ranked for the first time since 1994-95.

goodbye to Hector Camacho

NEW YORK » Hundreds mourned Hector Camacho today in the landmark East Harlem church the fighter attended as a boy, and hundreds more cheered and shouted "Macho" when his coffin was carried out and loaded into a hearse afterward.

"Hector lived the American dream, to come from simple beginnings and to be known by thousands of people," the Rev. Frank Skelly said. "He could lift us up, and he could break our hearts. He could inspire us and at times disappoint us."

Camacho, a native of Puerto Rico who moved to East Harlem as a child, was shot in the face Nov. 20 while sitting in a parked car with a friend outside a bar in Bayamon, his hometown in the U.S. territory. The friend, Adrian Mojica Moreno, died at the scene. The boxer died after doctors removed him from life support.

Chiefs player kills himself

KANSAS CITY, Mo. » Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend today, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager.

Authorities did not release a possible motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Belcher and Kasandra M. Perkins, 22, had been arguing recently. The two of them have a 3-month-old child.

Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before shooting himself in the parking lot of the team's practice facility, police spokesman Darin Snapp said. Police had locked it down by mid-morning and reporters were confined to the street just outside the gates.