Miano Moves Up To The UH TV Booth

Rich Miano promises to be fair and honest on OC-16 broadcasts this season. RACHEL BREIT PHOTO

Rich Miano promises to be fair and honest on OC-16 broadcasts this season. RACHEL BREIT PHOTO

No matter the official title, Rich Miano sees himself as a coach, a builder of teams, a consolidator of support. This is as true today for the safety manager for Horizon Lines as it was when he was an assistant under June Jones and Greg McMackin. He also hopes to bring these elements to television, as he teams up with Robert Kekaula to broadcast UH football games on OC-16.

For a passionate supporter and occasional critic of the program, providing color commentary for his alma mater is a challenge that is both welcome and difficult.

“I knew this job was dangerous, so to speak,” Miano says. “But as I told Dan Schmidt (OC Sports’ general manager and executive producer), I only know how to be professional.”

That professionalism will be watched carefully.

UH has the right of refusal, allowing the school to choose who will broadcast its games. Miano got the OK from athletic director Ben Jay and head football coach Norm Chow, but that doesn’t make the job easier for the 11-year NFL veteran.

Miano is pro-UH in all things.

Whether the topic is a winning football program, the school’s ability to fill a 50,000-seat stadium or the value of football as a reflection of state culture — he compares it to the Honolulu Symphony and Merrie Monarch Festival — you won’t convince him UH is doomed to second-tier status. And, almost surely, that’s going to be a problem for some viewers.

If he’s too upbeat, he’ll be labeled a mouthpiece. Too critical and it’s just sour grapes from a guy still salty from not getting the top job.

Miano says UH athletics is facing the most precarious time in its history. A lack of on-field success plus rising costs and prices has led to fan apathy and anger. He believes, however, Hawaii fans don’t want to be bombarded constantly with tales of woe. In that sense, he will look toward the positive. But don’t expect cheerleading. If he sees something incorrect or bad coaching decisions, he’ll point them out. He just won’t belabor the fact.

“It’s a very fine line. I don’t want to be perceived as a homer,” he says. “I don’t want to be perceived as being not credible. There are credible football fans in the state of Hawaii, and they’ll be watching the same thing I am watching. If I sugarcoat things or continue to say positive things about a negative picture, I lose my credibility. I can’t lose my credibility.”

The decision to take the job was an easy one. Miano has known Kekaula for years and was eager to work with the affable broadcaster. The only issue was the status of his friend and mentor Dick Tomey, whose position he is filling. But that wasn’t actually an issue because the former UH and Arizona head coach is retired, traveling and enjoying time with the grandkids. Tomey will likely continue working with OC-16 in a lesser role.

With that worry abated, Miano now needs to figure out his role in the broadcast booth. Kekaula isn’t a typical set-up-the-color-guy game-caller, which means the roles will likely overlap. Miano sees this as a positive.

“It’s a collaboration. Robert will have things that I don’t know about and I’ll know something that he won’t know about — formations, tendencies, what coaches are thinking in that situation. I think it’s going to be very interesting.”

And a lot of fun.

When both men were asked if there will be enough air time for the noted talkers, both laughed.

One bonus that comes with Miano’s return to the booth — he worked with Bobby Curran for three seasons on radio broadcasts for ESPN 1420 — is that it ends an exile, of sorts, for the former safety.

Miano was one of the many to apply for the head coach job after McMackin retired in 2011. He was not interviewed for the position and, in opposition to what he says was promised, was not interviewed for an assistant’s position with Chow. For a guy who “bleeds green,” it was a hurtful situation.

“Each coach (on Mc-Mackin’s staff) was promised an interview with the new head coach. For that not to happen was breaking your word. I’m disappointed in a how a lot of things were handled from the whole athletic department and the whole University of Hawaii.”

Cal Lee got a voicemail, Miano a phone call. Everyone moved on.

The entire experience caused “scars that will never leave,” but he has indeed moved on, calling the chance to broadcast games for his alma mater a great opportunity, and part of the healing process. He now attends practice and will travel with the team. Last week, at Chow’s invitation, Miano spoke to the team, which includes players he helped recruit. No doubt, it was a passion-filled address.

“This five-year cycle hasn’t expired yet. So Joey Iosefa, Scott Harding — I would pay to go watch those guys play. I am so excited to see Beau Yap. I’m so excited to see these guys become leaders and become great players. I’m a lifetime letterwinner, but I need to get more involved in whatever I can do to help this program, and this is a part of it.”

Miano has to be involved. As he points out, everything he has accomplished — his health, wealth, family and career — are attributed to UH.

He also can’t stop coaching.

“I don’t know when I will be coaching again, but I know I am not done,” says the coach of last year’s DII state champion Kaiser High. “That’s what I was born to do.”

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