The big news over the weekend was that Norm Chow was relieved of his head coaching duties for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The guy got canned like chicken born in the sea. In all seriousness it was only a matter of time. You cannot continue to pay money to someone who fails at one of the key elements in his job description: to win ball games.
I applaud the change Coach Chow made in terms of player discipline as well as classroom excellence. That shows that he understands there is a bigger picture for these student athletes. Through my incessant complaining of his incompetence as a coach, I recognize that he is a great human being who genuinely cares about the people who entrusted their future to him. That is something that I can’t say every coach understands; just see the numerous NCAA violations over the past decade if you need evidence. It is unfortunate that he is unable to get things going but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Since Norm Chow took over the program in 2012, the team has not been to a bowl game, not sniffed a winning season, home game attendance has dropped precipitously and it appears that improvement is not on the horizon.
Of course, this team has gone through tough stretches with injuries to key players but that is the reality of a contact sport. It is something that every program must overcome. In retrospect, it seems that Norm Chow’s time as head coach was highly effected by bad timing. Greg McMackin left the program almost completely void of young talent and it set Chow up in a huge hole to start. While I have been against him being the head coach after his second year, it really is hard to put 100 percent of the blame fault on his shoulders. He did some good things in his time here but none of them resonated with the fan base.
Where Chow failed, the next must not. The Athletic Department is in a world of hurt and the continued buyouts of coaches after poor contract decisions along with struggling bread winning programs have put them in the red. There will be little room for error for the next man to take the helm. Here are two things that I think will be imperative for the next coach to succeed where his/her predecessor did not.
1. Move things to the West Coast
I am partial to the west coast offense; it has a good mix between the run and pass. It eliminates the need for superstar type players by creating space with timing, anticipation and by spreading the ball around to multiple skill players. It would help relieve the pressure the o-line is under by designing quick developing plays allowing the quarterback to get rid of the ball with ease.
Another plus is the decrease in reads the quarterback needs to make. Often times the quarterback anticipates designed openings in the plays which essentially simplifies the offense. The great thing about the west coast offense is that it is more a guideline in which plays are designed and is not limited to certain formations like the Pistol and Triple Option. It is a very fluid concept.
The best example I can think of is the offense run by Ben McAdoo with the New York Giants that started in 2014. Since their last Super Bowl the team has seen a change of their style of play. Their defense used to be their staple along with a heavy run game. Since losing most of their defensive personnel as well as losing key offensive line and running back personnel they have had to rethink their philosophy.
Under McAdoo’s tutelage Eli Manning had his best season despite losing Victor Cruz and having to carry the offense with a subpar rush offense. Manning sported career highs in completion percentage, pass attempts, passing yards, QBR and touchdown to interception ratio. This year he is on pace to outdo his outstanding 2014 campaign.
2. The next head coach must be fluid
Throughout my career as an athlete and life as a sports fan, I have seen the effects a coach can have on how a team plays. Bad and average coaches are stuck in their ways. They refuse to adjust to the personnel they have and ultimately do not help put their players in positions to succeed.
The coach may succeed but you’ll notice things must align perfectly for them. It is hard for them to replicate their success and more times than not their teams seem more like a fluke than anything else. Being able to change the game plan and adjusting to what openings your opponents are giving is key to success in sports.
While the game plan is definitely an important aspect of his coaching duties the fluidity also pertains to the willingness to adjust the approach to coaching. If there is one thing that the modern school system has right, it’s the emphasis that everyone develops and learns differently.
While it is impractical to try to cater to every single individual, it is helpful to understand that some players respond differently to certain styles of coaching. If the coach understands that, they can optimize the probability that they can help a player see their potential if they are struggling to do so. The worst thing a coach can do is to keep trying the same old thing and expect different results.
With these two criteria in mind, the next head coach Hawaii gets should be a success. Stay tuned for more information as we continue with our coverage of the Hawaii head coach search!