Blaine Gaison is Centurians #12

HSB Note: “A storied career at the University of Hawaii preceded four seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons. For fans, Hawaii’s emergence from an era of D-II opponents like Texas A&I to D-I prominence was that much sweeter with homegrown products like Gaison. Before signing with UH, he had visited the campus with top recruits such as Brad Anae, Tom Tuinei and David Hughes.”

About choosing to play for UH to make a difference after advice from Charlie Kaaihue (former UH assistant and ex-Oakland Raiders guard), Blaine Gaison said:
“Charlie Kaaihue shared with us that we could really make a difference. We all decided to stay home. The opportunities to go to the mainland were there. I come from a very close family. If I went away, my family wouldn’t be able to see me play.” (HSB)

About how he thought about leaving UH after his first season, Gaison said:
“My parents saw that I was unhappy. They supported whatever decision I was going to make.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “The legs that launched him to UH were ready to churn again, this time to Boise State with Hughes. But a strange thing happened before Gaison could fly away. A man named Dick Tomey tracked him down. In the end, Gaison stopped running just enough for the new coach to reel him back in. In the end, Hawaii’s struggling football program — on the brink of failure — turned around and became a Western Athletic Conference title contender.”

About how he convinced Gaison to remain at UH, Dick Tomey (then an unknown assistant from UCLA) said:
“One of my major projects was to let him know there was going to be a new program. I wanted him to consider staying. I remember calling him on the phone. He didn’t know me from Adam, just a haole guy from UCLA. He kept saying we couldn’t get together because he was going to the country.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “What Tomey assumed was a faraway location turned out to be Kaneohe — a 20-minute drive from town — and, eventually, he caught up with Gaison. RECRUITED BY SEVERAL Division I programs, Gaison didn’t know what to expect from the new UH coach. He had already been contacted by athletic director Ray Nagel, who was charged with upscaling the department.”

About how he was ready to leave UH, Gaison said:
“I heard from very influential people in Hawaii who were concerned with the future of UH. But my bags were packed and I was ready to go to another school.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Upon hiring Tomey, Nagel called Gaison from the mainland.”

About how he didn’t know anything about Coach Tomey, Gaison said:
“I was an 18-year-old kid, done with my first year in college. I’d had a bad experience. Who’s this coach? I don’t know.” (HSB)

About his first conversation with Gaison, Tomey said:
“Blane and I talked, and from the first time we talked, I realized he had tremendous leadership qualities. At that time, he was a quarterback and defensive back, and I don’t think I made him any promises about where he’d play.” (HSB)

About his meeting with Tomey, Gaison said:
“He drove to my house, spent an hour there and laid out his plan. He said, ‘I’d love for you to reconsider.’ He thanked my parents and then he left. He went back to the airport and went back to L.A.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Gaison’s father, George, was a military man who always endorsed a policy of action rather than verbiage. Father and son were impressed.”

About how Coach Tomey’s actions convinced him to stay at UH, Gaison said:
“The next day, Ray called and I asked for Dick’s number. I unpacked my bags and went back to UH.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Tomey doesn’t say much else about the meeting. On a quiet night in Windward Oahu, he secured a huge win before he even stepped on campus. More than 30 years later, he still won’t brag about it. Gaison has kept close ties with Tomey.”

About his bond with Coach Tomey, Gaison said:
“You could see his genuineness. What he said is what he meant. From the time I’ve known him — and I’m not the only one — he’s a coach we all came to love for who he is. We always talk. Next to my dad, he’s probably the most influential person in my life.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Gaison, a nephew of legendary running back Herman Wedemeyer, later became the Stan Bates Award winner as the top scholar-athlete in the WAC. Steering the defense from his safety position, Gaison was a coach on the field. No. 11’s intelligence and versatility provided Rainbow Warriors fans with some of their greatest memories. Few athletes can go most of a season without taking a snap under center, then lead a team to victory over established programs. Gaison’s return to quarterback, all because of injury problems to UH’s top two slingers, yielded victories over Colorado State and Arizona State. The win over ASU, which had left the WAC to join the Pac-10 the year before (1978), was a demonstration in Tomey’s pillars for success: defense and a ground attack.”

About how Gaison directed their running game, Tomey said:
“He’d hand it off to Gary Allen and David Toloumu. Gary ran for 150 yards.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “The Sun Devils, who featured future NFL quarterback Mark Malone, had to play it safe to an extent. Gaison had already shown, in a win over CSU, that he could throw the ball. A third-down completion to tight end Jerry Scanlan was clutch.”

About his completing to Scanlan, Gaison said:
“That play was the most shocking thing. That game was totally off the wall. (Scanlan) was the third option, and we never worked on it. After the game, Coach Tomey said, ‘How did you see that?’ ” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Gaison never relinquished his duties at safety. That defensive unit put a lid on opponents, allowing 12 or fewer points five times. UH had its second winning season in a row and set the course for the once-ailing program.”

About the bond with their team, Gaison said:
“One of the neatest things about playing at the collegiate level is there’s a brotherhood that forms. I had friends from across the country.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “One of those friends was offensive lineman Ed Riewerts, who wasn’t quite ready to let go of his life as a Rainbow Warrior after that season-ending win over Arizona State. That moment turned into a walk around the field with Gaison, which became an annual tradition known as the Senior Walk.”

About the Senior walk he took with Gaison, Ed Riewerts said:
“It was really Nelson (Maeda’s) deal. After his senior season (the year before), he took a walk after the last game. He was probably the only one still in the stadium.” (HSB)

“So about halfway through the season, he mentioned it to Blane — take a walk around the field. I was standing in the tunnel, thinking what a cool experience this has been. Then Blane came up behind me and said, ‘Eddie, let’s take a walk.’ We went walking and there was nobody in the stadium except when we got to the opposite end.” (HSB)

About how Gaison’s grandmother was waiting at the north end zone, below the main scoreboard, Riewerts said:
“He says, ‘Hi Grandma,’ and she said, ‘Hi Blane, hi Eddie.’ I guess as we were walking around the stadium, and I heard about this later, Jim Leahey was up there (in the press box) doing his post-game show, and he made a whole big thing about me and Blane walking around the stadium: ‘They’re friends and captains, I wish you could see this.’ ” (HSB)

HSB Note: “By the time Leahey had finished his show, fans had returned to the stadium and Joe Moore, who was a sports anchor then, interviewed Riewerts. The brotherhood still lives. Gaison has great memories of many former teammates, including roommate Mike Stennis, who died in 2003.”

About the bonds their team formed, Gaison said:
“I cherish the relationships we had. Coach Tomey had an emphasis on family and the team. He fit into our culture and community. He allowed the community to take ownership. Knowing you had a little part of all that, I really cherish that.” (HSB)

About why people ask him for fitness advice because of the way he remains fit, Gaison said:
“My dad always told us, ‘I’m not interested in what you say. I’m interested in what you do.’ People will listen to what you say, but they’ll watch what you do.” (HSB)

HSG Note: “He’s lost track of how many calls he’s gotten from friends, but the advice is basic. Start with walking — with a spouse or brother or sister, or just the family dog. Or walk knee deep in water at the beach. Twice a week workouts turn into three, four, five sessions over time.”

About how his wife Donnalei controls his diet, Gaison said:
“Whatever my wife makes, that’s what I’m eating.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Gaison was inducted into the UH Sports Circle of Honor in 1999. Daughter Pilialoha was crowned Miss Hawaii in 2007. Son Kepa, who was part of Kamehameha’s 2004 state championship team, is a starting linebacker at Utah.”


%d bloggers like this: