After winning just ten games over the past three and a half seasons, Norm Chow was fired as Head Coach of the University of Hawaii football team.
"I'd like to thank Coach Chow for his dedication to our football program for the past four years," Athletic Director David Matlin said in a release on Sunday, "Ultimately, we feel this decision is in the best interest of the University and Athletics Department and we need to move in a different direction. Coach Chow should be commended for helping our football program achieve all-time highs in APR scores and graduation rates."
Personally, I thought that the university would wait till the end of the season before replacing Chow, but after six straight losses, the move doesn't surprise me.
Now with Chow relived of his duties, the attention turns to Assistant Coach/Offensive Line Coach Chris Naeole, who has been named Interim Head Coach for the remainder of the season. Let's learn a little more about the new head (more than likely temporary) honcho at Hawaii.
Naeole's football roots start back on the state of Hawaii, where he was a star two-way player at Kahuku High School in Honolulu, the same high school where NFL stars like Hau'oli Kikaha and Manti Te'o began their careers. During his senior year, Naeole tallied 56 tackles and five sacks en route to high school All-America honors from Prep Report, Blue Chip, and USA Today.
After high school, he went on to play football at Colorado as an Offensive Guard, becoming a three-year starter for the Buffaloes. In that span, he only allowed one sack. He received All-Big 12 honors twice while helping Colorado finish in the AP Top 10 three years in a row. In 1996, Naeole was named a consensus All-America pick, and was named the team's most outstanding offensive player that year.
In the 1997 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints took Naeole with the 10th overall pick, signing him to a five-year, $8 million dollar deal, which at the time made him Hawaii's highest-paid rookie pro athlete ever. He was the highest-selected guard since 1988, and the first Colorado lineman drafted since 1980.
Naeole played out his contract with the Saints, starting 63 games over a five-year period. After his contract expired, he chose to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2002. He started 79 games for the Jags between '02-'06. In Week 8 of the 2007 season, Naeole suffered a torn quadricep tendon and was placed on season-ending IR. Up until that injury, he had only missed one game as a pro, and had started 150 of his 154 games of his career. Jacksonville would later release Naeole in March of 2008.
In 2010, he would return to Hawaii as a defensive line coach at 'Iolani School in Honolulu, and was a part of three state championship teams during that time. After three years at 'Iolani, Naeole was named the offensive line coach at Hawaii.
So what has Hawaii gotten themselves to close the season? Well, to be blunt, a band-aid. Naeole's goal as Interim HC is to stop the bleeding left by Chow and try and salvage a few wins for this team to close the season out. His lack of experience makes the decision questionable with coordinators like Don Bailey and Tom Mason on the staff as well, but for now, Naeole is in the driver's seat for the Rainbow Warriors, and his goal is to not set anything else on fire the rest of the year.