Feature story on Dick Tomey’s career at UH

About being offered the UH head coach job in 1977, Tomey said:
“I just knew that everybody (UH had talked to) turned down the job. Jim Mora, Dick Coury, Rudy Hubbard … Maybe that was why they offered it to me.”

HA Note: “But if Tomey wasn’t UH’s first — or even second or third — choice then, 32 years later he has come to be seen as not only the right choice but a key figure in Hawai’i sports. Tomey left UH in 1987 with the most wins in UH history, later to be overtaken by one of his former assistants, June Jones. But the measure of Tomey’s tenure is deeper than the 63-46-3 record.

About the situation at UH when Tomey took over, the Advertiser wrote:
“Flash back to the spring and early summer of 1977 when, in the wake of a 3-8 season in which UH had been outscored 127-3 in its final two games, three assistant coaches departed, a recruit drowned off Waikiki, the varsity lost its spring game to the Alumni 33-26, the legislature spiked an overdue campus facilities upgrade and head coach Larry Price threw up his hands in frustration and resigned May 12. Oh, and two days later 33 UH football players threatened to leave if their concerns weren’t addressed by the school administration. Soon after, Tomey agreed to leave UCLA, where he had been an assistant coach, for a $33,500 annual contract and a season three months hence that included games with South Carolina and Arizona.”

About his optimism, Tomey said back then:
“when I hit a ball into the trees I still believe I can make par.” (HA)

About his optimistic outlook back then, Tomey said recently:
“I was anxious to believe, just like I am now.” (HA)

About how it helped that Ray Nagel (whom he knew through his UCLA ties) had taken the AD job at UH less than a year before he was hired, Tomey said:
“Ray gave me somebody to believe in.” (HA)

About another benefit of taking the UH job, Tomey said:
“I felt Hawai’i would be a good place for my family.” (HA)

HA Note: “Somehow, he engineered a 5-6 finish in his inaugural year, including a 24-7 victory over South Carolina, and then managed winning campaigns in seven of the next nine years. In the process, UH football became an event and attendance rose from an average of 20,236 to 44,651 at one point.”

About how Tomey raised UH’s football program, Jesse Sapolu said:
“Dick came in and raised the expectations, raised the standard. By the time he left … we broke through a lot of barriers … joined the WAC, played in the championship game against BYU and Jim McMahon and he filled up the stadium.” (HA)

HA Note: “Tomey was not able to beat arch rival Brigham Young in eight meetings but his teams knocked off Arizona State, South Carolina (twice), Wisconsin and West Virginia.”

Asked what was the biggest reward for his time at UH, Tomey said:
“The job offered me — and my family — the chance to be part of the culture, the community.” (HA)

About how Tomey did a lot for UH and Hawaii, Sapolu said:
“I think the people of Hawai’i should be thankful for the time and effort he’s given to the state. He did a lot of good for UH football.” (HA)



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