Niko Noga is Centurians #7

HSB Note: “Hawaii fans still talk about the night Niko lined up across from the great Dave Rimington, and the Rainbows had Goliath on the ropes. Of course they do. But the way you know it’s real (even as the actual details are fuzzy now, or long lost) is that, when that particular game is brought up, even Nebraska fans will mention, unprompted, that Hawaii had that great nose guard. What was his name? Yes, Niko Noga vs. Dave Rimington really happened. There are even a few Nebraska fans who still talk about it, too.”

HSB Note: “And if not the most famous, the best of them all was Rimington, a guy they would name a trophy after, a guy who is on every All-Century team. He is the only player to win the Outland — meaning he was the best lineman in college football — twice. He was so dominant they say it was as if he was offside on every play. And he was the center. He was once named Big 8 offensive player of the year. And he was the center.”

About facing NG Niko Noga in his last regular season college game, Rimington said:
“Niko was a real hard competitor.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Hawaii was playing Tomeyball that season, having beaten Utah 10-7, Cal State Fullerton 9-3. Classics. The Rainbows came into the game at 6-4. But on that night, magic was happening. The Hawaii defenders were playing the game of their lives, making stop after stop after stop, and Niko was leading the charge.”

About how he knew Niko would make it to the NFL, Rimington said:
“I knew he was going to play pro football. We both were going at each other pretty good and he was going all the time.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “The Rainbows led 10-0 at halftime, and entered the fourth quarter up 16-7. They had the Huskers on the ropes. It was electric.”

About Niko’s brothers, Rimington said:
“He had his brothers in the stands. I can remember them screaming at me.” (HSB)

About how he’ll always remember his handshake with Niko after the game, Rimington said:
“I’ll always remember that.” (HSB)

About how he remembers the footage of Niko Noga running during the opening sequence for the “Dick Tomey Show”, Robert Kekaula said:
“He was wearing shorts and one of those old UHAD T-shirts. It was cut-off, maybe right below his chest, and as the saying goes, he was ‘ripped,’ I mean muscles bulging everywhere. It freaked many of us out, because wearing green and looking like he did, I swear to God it was the frickin’ HULK running on the field. It was both spooky and exciting.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Yes. That captures the feeling perfectly: Niko was the player you would watch run a 40 (on television!), and you would not only be psyched, and inspired, but also a little bit afraid.”

HSB Note: “I’ve been asked about ranking Niko ahead of Al (I had him at No. 2, behind Levi Stanley, just ahead of the guy with the islands on his head; Al was No. 4, followed by … oh, never mind). Al was … there are no words. He surpassed our wildest dreams. But Niko … as Al himself told the Star-Bulletin’s Nick Abramo in 2002: “Niko will always be the guy who started the tempo, the one who had UH fans chanting ‘No-ga, No-ga, No-ga.’ ” He was the original No. 54. With the next one, we knew it was coming.”


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