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Sports & Fitness // Hot Air
Steve Murray

Truth Not Pretty For UH Football

UH’s battered quarterback Sean Schroeder gets up from another hit. AP photo

In 2006, Al Gore’s narrated documentary An Inconvenient Truth offered a shocking vision of the future because of global warming and other environmental concerns.

An inconvenient truth has emerged within the embattled UH athletic department, one that won’t add to the homeless problem of polar bears nor cause across-the-aisle bickering, but nonetheless could devastate the department’s future.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 1: Norm Chow isn’t going anywhere. That’s good news for supporters and bad news for detractors.

Chow is in the first year of a five-year contract and barring another unexpected scandal – and the way things are going at UH, it wouldn’t shock anyone – he’ll remain employed until the university can afford to either buy him out or extend his contract. Which is fair. Chow’s first season has been a disaster, but he deserves those three years to show he can develop a program. If not, there will be no shortage of applicants.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 2: This is the most talent-deprived team in decades. Even Fred VonAppen’s infamous 0-12 squad had enough hidden gems to pull off the biggest turnaround in NCAA Div. I history. The 2012 Warriors are a group of dead men walking whose only hope may be to tread water well enough to maintain their scholarships in a possible post-season fire sale that could drastically alter the composition of the team.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 3: The 2012 Warriors are a MASH unit. Thin of talent to begin with, the team has been bent, busted and downright devastated by injuries. The lack of capable, healthy bodies has ruined any chance of consistency from which to build upon.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 4: Nick Rolovich isn’t the answer. This is no slam on the young offensive coordinator, but he is just that – young with too little experience to be rushed into a job with such tremendous responsibility.

Chow Fun has turned into Norm Ciao for a number of supporters, who have called for the ouster of offensive coordinator Tommy Lee and his defensive counterpart, Thom Kaumeyer. Assistants often bear the blame for under-performing teams, but changes here aren’t likely since that pressure typically come from the AD, and it may be months before anyone fills that position.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 5: The team has not improved. Nothing sops support quicker than a noncompetitive team that isn’t getting any closer to victory. UH began the season with a rather effective second half against USC, and except for the blowout win versus Lamar – which said more about the opponent than the host – play has only gotten worse. Injuries, turnovers, poor execution and bland play-calling have made what many thought would be a four-win season with a solid future into a single-win campaign with little hope.

* 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. This was obvious against Fresno State, when down 42 points, UH went to a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-turf approach, handing the ball off three times after taking over on downs on their own four-yard line. The result was hardly unexpected, a punt from the 13. Fortunately, Fresno emptied the bench in the third quarter, preventing what could have been a 60-point victory.

All told, the Warriors passed seven times and rushed 10 in the second half. Adopting a conservative plan when the game is out of reach makes sense if the idea is to treat the contest as an extension of practice and use it to identify talent and develop skills for the next game. After all, the season is lost, and to risk injury in a chase to beat the point spread is a waste of time and talent. Is this now the plan? Not likely. The season has provided ample opportunities to swap bodies and philosophies, and so far the coaching staff has shown no interest or willingness to do so.

* Inconvenient Truth No. 7: The program is in danger of becoming irrelevant. Unless something dramatic happens in these final games or Chow scores a John Calipari-type recruiting class, 2013 will be greeted with the expectation of a board of regents meeting figuring out what’s going on in Bachman and Hawaii halls.

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