Hiring of Naeole may be a huge boon for Hawaii

One of the things Norm Chow talked about when he became University of Hawaii head football coach 14 months ago was paving a path for UH players to the NFL.

Score one big plus toward that with today's news that Chris Naeole joins the Warriors staff.

When it comes to opening holes to daylight for others, who better than Naeole, a no-reverse-gear guard at the highest level of the game for 11 seasons?

The right word to the right person from Naeole could get a guy who just needs a look into a camp.

We saw this kind of thing play out numerous times with June Jones and his assistants, including another 11-year pro, Rich Miano. I'm sure we'll see it with Chow, too.

Of course, there are other goals than finding jobs for matriculating student-athletes … like winning football games and the famous (or infamous?) alliterative phraseology of "chasing championships."

MY BELIEF is that Naeole — who could turn out to be the biggest get of this recruiting year without playing a down — will help immensely in those areas, too.

You don't survive for more than a decade in the NFL without learning a thing or two along the way, and you probably get pretty good at passing those things along to your teammates, too.

Naeole will have instant credibility with the UH players; he is young enough that they remember him playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars on the other side of the center from former Warriors star Vince Manuwai.

They probably don't recall him starting out at New Orleans, when the Saints made Naeole the 10th pick overall of the 1997 draft. That's where I saw him play a game, back in 1999 at the Superdome.

IT WAS a frustrating 20-17 late loss to the Atlanta Falcons, who had come into the game 0-4. Afterward, Naeole was the most disconsolate person in the Saints locker room, staring at the floor. If Chow wants a competitor who hates to lose, he's got one.

Naeole decried the Saints coaches' choice to throw late in that game instead of closing it out with more carries behind him by rookie Ricky Williams, who rushed 19 times for 53 yards. If Chow wants an assistant who believes in running the ball, he's got one.

NAEOLE IS fairly new to coaching, a couple of seasons at ‘Iolani. But, again, you don't last as long as he did in the NFL without knowing what you're doing. He was drafted that high (in a stratosphere where guards are almost never chosen) because he was a beast coming out of Colorado, but also because he was "extremely intelligent," according to analysis by Pro Sports Xchange.

Let's remember also where Naeole is from: Kahuku. It can't be overstated how important it is for the Warriors football program's success to keep the lines of communication open between Manoa and the North Shore. We've seen what happens when there is a breakdown, and it isn't pretty for UH.

So Naeole should pay early dividends as a recruiter.

We'll eventually see how well he can impart his considerable knowledge gained through experience of being there in the trenches, and being there a long time.

Reach Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com or 529-4783.



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