Potential candidates to fill vacant UH football head coaching job after Todd Graham’s sudden resignation

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When Nick Rolovich left the University of Hawaii to become Washington State’s next football coach on January 12, 2020, UH athletic director David Matlin met with the team shortly after. and wanted the team to help select the program’s next leader.

As former defensive lineman Derek Thomas recalled during a Senate hearing last Friday, there “were a few requests, but the main two were that we would like to have someone with Hawaiian ties, and we would like a coach who is a nice person, someone you can talk to and get along with.David Matlin went to hire the exact opposite of what we asked for.

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Thomas was referring, of course, to former Hawaii coach Todd Graham, who resigned Friday after going 11-11 in his two seasons at the helm. Nearly two years after Rolovich left, the Rainbow Warriors are back to square one. Linebackers coach Jacob Yoro is the interim coach at this time.

With a roster depleted due to a massive transfer exodus after the 2021 season, a makeshift stadium and a general lack of funding, the UH football team is in SOS mode and has issues beyond Graham’s control.

The Feb. 2 signing day is fast approaching, and it would behoove UH to be specific and specific with whom it chooses to lead the program leading into the future. Who would be ready to take up the challenge while meeting the criteria defined by Thomas?

Below is a list of potential candidates for the vacant position of UH Head Football Coach. Although Rolovich is currently unemployed, his refusal to receive a COVID-19 vaccine does not make him a legitimate candidate. The same goes for former quarterbacks coach and passing coordinator Craig Stutzmann, who was hired by Dixie State on Friday.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name:

Syracuse offensive coordinator Robert Anae

Anae, a Kahuku alum and ex-Hawaii graduate assistant, nearly landed the job in 2020, even flying to the islands for an in-person interview during his time as Virginia’s offensive coordinator.

Keith Bhonapha, Boise State associate head coach

Bhonapha is a former running back from Hawaii and also began his college coaching career at UH. He steadily rose through the ranks, coaching running backs at Boise State and Washington before returning to Boise after the 2021 season.

Timmy Chang, Colorado State wide receivers coach

Chang was a record quarterback for UH in the early 2000s, signing with the Warriors on several offers from what was then known as the Pac-10 Conference. Since then, he has accumulated a decade of experience as a college coach, following Jay Norvell from Nevada to Colorado State last December.

UCLA assistants Chad Kauha’aha’a, Ikaika Malloe and Brian Norwood

Kauha’aha’a, a Baldwin alum, is currently the defensive line coach at UCLA. Malloe, a former Kamehameha and former UH assistant in 2008, is currently the Bruins’ outside linebackers coach. Both Kauha’aha’a and Malloe are known in college football circles as scouts of aces, especially when it comes to relationships with players of Polynesian descent.

Norwood was a member of the legendary 1981 Radford team that won the Hawaii State title following the sudden death of head coach John Velasco. Norwood’s strong coaching resume includes stops at Arizona, Navy, Texas Tech, Penn State, Baylor, Tulsa, Kansas State and UCLA, where he currently serves as associate head coach, passing games coordinator and running backs coach. defensive.

Brian Smith, former offensive coordinator for Hawaii and Washington State

Smith, who was also considered in the 2020 search, was an integral part of the Rolovich era as an assistant coach and played for UH from 1998 to 2001. After WSU decided to go in a different direction offensively after the 2021 season, Smith was a finalist for the Idaho State head coaching job, but did not land the job. Idaho State’s decision could very well be a win for UH, and soon.

Tony Tuioti, Oregon defensive line coach

Tuioti, who graduated from Hawaii in 2000, has extensive experience as an assistant at UH, Nebraska, Cal, Michigan and with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.

Former Hawaii coach June Jones and former UH assistant Rich Miano

In Hawaii’s last three coaching searches in 2015, 2020 and already in 2022, Jones and Miano have consistently emerged as crowd favorites. In 2022, the level of interest in both in terms of job application is currently unknown.


A wild card candidate is the head coach of San Jose State Brent Brenan, cousin of the late Colt Brennan. Brent Brennan is known to have an affinity with Hawaii. As evidenced by the school’s baseball coaching search last summer, UH isn’t afraid to choose a current head coach, as was the case with Rich Hill.

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