Feature on Rich Miano, Centurians #28

HSB Note: “There is a play Hawaii defensive backs coach Rich Miano shows his players. It looks like something from a video game. Dick Tomey, with 50 years in the coaching business, says it’s the second greatest he’s seen, right after Jim McMahon’s impromptu left-footed punt. A screen of three blockers is aligned between a safety and a ballcarrier.”

About facing the three blockers, then-UH DB (now UH DB coach) Rich Miano said:
“I had three choices. Under them, through them or over them.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Cue that weird “Six Million Dollar Man” noise. The defender — who happens to be Rich Miano — hurdles the blockers, lands on the guy with the ball, taking him down.

About motivating his players with his story, Miano said:
“They see me. They think, ‘If that guy can make the NFL, I can.'” (HSB)

HSB Note: “”YOU’RE GONNA WALK on and you’re gonna get carried off,” said a high school teammate 30 years ago, when told of Miano’s plans to play at the University of Hawaii. Well, at least it was better than his first day of practice at Kaiser, when another braddah greeted him with, “Eh, haole, move your pads before I blast you!” Yet another veteran Cougar, Bryan Almadova, was already benching 225 pounds 10 times. It was a locker room full of studs and Miano wondered if he’d made a big mistake.”

About seeing his teammates at Kaiser, Miano said:
“These were the guys I was going to play with, in my one year of high school football?” (HSB)

HSB Note: “He stuck with it and even gained some cred as the 1979 season went along. Miano intercepted two passes to help the Cougars upset Kamehameha in the Prep Bowl. Ron and Cal Lee had been right. Ron knew an athlete when he saw one, even on a diving board. Cal knew he belonged on defense.”

About how he had planned to go to a small college on the mainland to continue to learn about football, but decided to go to UH after his brother Robert died in an accident, Miano said:
“There was no way I was going to leave my family. My family was devastated. I attribute my success to him.” (HSB)

About how he never thought he’d adjust quickly to Hawaii after moving to Hawaii as a 15-year-old from Brockton, Mass, Miano said:
“I’d never lived anywhere else. I had my first girlfriend. When my dad said we were moving to Hawaii, it was a shock and a disappointment. I cried every day. When we got here, it was culture shock. I hated it.” (HSB)

About how he finally stopped moping after the move, Miano said:
“Then I realized my whole protest wasn’t going to work, we weren’t going back to Brockton. I joined diving.” (HSB)

About how Ron Lee (Kaiser’s head coach) found Miano when he was on the diving team, Cal Lee (the defensive coordinator) said:
“He was raw, like a raw fish, and to his credit he worked hard. I’m not saying he came on and was tearing up the league. Leroy Lutu made him look like a child two or three times. But that was in September. It’s not how you start, it’s how you end.” (HSB)

About how he struggled when he auditioned for UH’s defensive coordinator Bob Wagner, Miano said:
“(Wagner) wanted so much to laugh, he had to turn around. “(HSB)

HSB Note: “To top it off, he wasn’t even academically qualified.”

HSB Note: “He made grades in the summer and, despite the bad workout, Miano somehow got on the fall camp roster — or so he thought.”

About how he thought he was on the fall camp roster but didn’t see his name listed anywhere, Miano said:
“My name’s not on the dinner list, my name’s not on the dorm list, my name’s not on the equipment list.” (HSB)

About how he worked extremely hard to improve, Miano said:
“Nobody ever outworked me, I was obsessed. I wanted acceptance in Hawaii. I wanted to be good so people would like me.” (HSB)

About how Miano wanted to learn, star CB Dana McLemore said:
“He wanted to learn everything, a sponge. He was big, strong, fast and smart. He was just young and hadn’t played at that level.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “He got his first real playing time as a sophomore in 1982, in at safety for injured Louis Santiago against BYU. Miano picked off a Steve Young pass.”

About how he kept his spot once he got a chance to play, Miano said:
“After that I never missed a down.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “He kept improving, and became a fan favorite because of how hard he hit. And there was his name — some people thought it was Japanese; the outsider was mistaken for a local, until he took his helmet off.”

About how people thought he was local, Miano said:
“I would tell people, ‘Yeah, I’m hapa, I just pull to the haole side.'” (HSB)

About how the odds to make the NFL were against him because the USFL had just folded and there were so much competition to make the roster, Miano said:
“There were 20 different kinds of yogurt in the cafeteria at training camp. I made it my goal to be there long enough to taste them all.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Now he’s married to a local girl, Lori, mother of his children, Kupa’a and Siena. He works at a job he loves, trying to show others how to do what he did.”

About his story, Miano said:
“This is not Disney. I’m not Vince from ‘Invincible,’ I’m not Rudy.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Actually he’s got Rudy beat — by college stardom and 11 years in the NFL.”



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