Naeole not with Rainbows on Nevada trip
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
Hawaii offensive Line coach Chris Naeole did not travel with the team to Nevada.
The University of Hawaii football team will be short-staffed for Saturday’s road game against Nevada.
As of Thursday evening, offensive line coach Chris Naeole was not an active member of the coaching staff. Naeole did not attend the Rainbow Warriors’ practices on Wednesday and Thursday. He did not travel with the team Thursday on the two flights to Reno.
Head coach Nick Rolovich declined repeated requests for comment on Naeole’s status.
Naeole and athletic director David Matlin did not return messages left on their cell phones.
Offensive coordinator Brian Smith and graduate assistant John Estes coached the offensive linemen the past two practices. Smith, who also coaches the running backs, and Estes are former UH offensive linemen.
This is Naeole’s fifth season as a UH coach. The Rainbow Warriors had 1,000-yard rushers in 2015 (Paul Harris) and 2016 (Diocemy Saint Juste). Naeole helped develop offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi, who is now on the Detroit Lions’ practice squad. Naeole was influential in offensive lineman Fred Ulu-Perry choosing UH after requesting — and receiving — a release from his UCLA scholarship in December 2015. Naeole served as a point recruiter in Australia and New Zealand.
After Norm Chow was fired midway through the 2015 season, Naeole was named the Warriors’ interim head coach. While Naeole oversaw the program, graduate assistant Ramsen Golpashin coached the offensive line.
Naeole did not apply for the head coaching job that went to Rolovich in late 2015. But Rolovich retained Naeole and defensive backs coach Abraham Elimimian.
Naeole is a 1992 Kahuku High graduate. He was an All-America offensive guard at Colorado, where, according to school reports, he allowed only one sack during his college career.
The New Orleans Saints selected Naeole with the 10th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. He played 12 NFL seasons with the Saints and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
This year, Naeole was inducted into the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
Naeole’s absence coincides with the return of left tackle Dejon Allen and Ulu-Perry. Both players missed last week’s game against Colorado State because of ailments, but they practiced this week.