Al Noga is Centurians #3

I was lucky enough to meet Al Noga last year while having lunch with some UH football fans in Hawaii. He was very nice to come by and shake hands…it was such an honor because I followed his UH and pro career and he was such a memorable player.

HSB Note: “Noga is still the only UH football player to be named as a first-team Associated Press All-American. Pro Football Hall of Famers Michael Irvin and Rod Woodson were on that team. So were Deion Sanders and Brian Bosworth, a pair of colorful characters who would surely turn pale if Noga lined up opposite of them.

HSB Note: “The Samoan Sack Man burst onto the national scene during Hawaii’s 1986 season, his junior year. He didn’t tackle whoever had the ball, he undressed them. Aside from his AP recognition, Noga was the Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year in ’86. That’s the same year BYU’s Jason Buck won the Outland Trophy, awarded to the best college football interior lineman by the Football Writers Association of America. Noga should have won it. Snubs like that are part of the chip that sat upon Hawaii football’s shoulders for so long. Noga did his best to knock that chip off by knocking out opposing players.”

About how Noga’s teammates feared him, then-UH coach Bob Wagner said:
“I think his teammates all feared him. Not feared him in a crazy way, but in a tough way with respect.” (HSB)

About Al Noga being elected team captain before the 1987 season, Wagner said:
“Al comes to me prior to his senior year and says he wants to be captain. I tell him the players elect the captain. Al says, ‘They’ll vote for me.’ … I believe it was pretty unanimous.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Even the coach himself was not immune to Noga’s steely determination. Former Hawaii player Shawn Ching recalls a film session during the 1987 season when Wagner called out Noga for loafing on the field. Wagner told Noga to stand, and then told Noga he wanted him to lose weight and get in shape. “Coach, I’m not losing weight,” was Noga’s response. He then sat down … end of conversation.”

About being a true freshman on their scout team and having to practice against Al Noga during his senior season, Shawn Ching said:
“I had an Al Noga baseball card on my bulletin board … with an X across his face.” (HSB)

About how he would scheme up ways to legally work over Noga in practice, Ching said:
“Never happened.” (HSB)

About wondering if he would survive to make it to the training table on one particular practice day, Ching said:
“He abused the crap out of me … showed me no mercy.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “It was during a Noga audition before a large gathering of NFL evaluators. They had heard the stories, read the press clippings, studied the game film.”

HSB Note: “This recap from Hawaii’s 1986 win over UTEP: “Al Noga led the fierce Rainbow pass rush which knocked out two of UTEP’s quarterbacks with serious injuries. In all, Noga had nine tackles and three sacks.” After the game, UTEP coach Bob Stull coined a phrase for what Noga did to his team. Stull said UTEP got “Noganized.”

Two weeks later, Noga and company sent New Mexico’s quarterback to the hospital, where he stayed overnight. He did not play again the rest of the season. On the first weekend of November 1986, Noga was named WAC defensive player of the week after making just three tackles against Utah. The Utes ran away from Noga all night, but so great was his presence that he still won the award.”

Utah coach Jim Fassel said about Noga:
“His athletic ability and intensity on the field makes him one of the premier defensive players in the country …” (HSB)

HSB Note: “A week after Utah and before 50,000 at Aloha Stadium, Al and brother Pete Noga combined for 28 tackles and three sacks against BYU. The Cougars’ two eventual first-round NFL draft picks, Shawn Knight and the aforementioned Jason Buck, combined for 10 tackles and one sack. Hawaii lost the game, but Al Noga was named the game’s outstanding lineman for the fourth time in eight games.”

About Noga, then-BYU coach Lavell Edwards’ said:
“One of the great pass rushers we have ever played against.” (HSB)

Former Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney said that Al Noga is:
“the most exciting defensive lineman I know in college football.” (HSB)

Evaluating himself, Noga said:
“(I) never had loads of talent, but I was a hard worker and a quick learner. … I had to push myself over and over with hard- core training and hard-core conditioning.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Part of that motivation came from his brothers, Niko (1980-83) and Pete (1983-86), who also played for Hawaii. It was Niko Noga whose inspired play led to the UH fan chant of ‘No-ga, No-ga, No-ga.’ Al Noga has said that Niko was the “complete package” and Pete “had the most natural ability.” All three brothers would eventually carve out jobs in the NFL. After Noga’s senior season, 1987, the Minnesota Vikings selected him in the third round of the NFL Draft. He played for the Vikings, Redskins and Colts before finishing his NFL career back in Minnesota in 1992.”

HSB Note: “Noga’s name is still atop several statistical categories in the Hawaii football record books. In 1986, he set the Hawaii single-season record for forced fumbles (6), tackles for a loss (31), and sacks (17). Those, as well as the career marks for forced fumbles (15), and tackles for loss (70) belong to Noga. If they kept a stat for knockouts, the record would be retired under Noga’s name.”

About how Noga was used in UH’s defense, Bob Wagner said:
“That 1986 squad had one of the best defenses the WAC has ever had … to this day. We played Al wherever he could have the most impact.” (HSB)

HSB Note: “Noga’s impact on that 1986 defense helped Wagner land the head coaching job the next season when Dick Tomey left.”

About how he cannot remember the last time he saw Noga but said that he knows what he would do if he saw him again, Bob Wagner said:
“I’d give him a hug.” (HSB)


2 Responses to “Al Noga is Centurians #3”

  1. Jamie Wood Says:

    Maybe you could help me I was a huge Al Noga fan when he played for the Vikings . I meet him a few time and had a scrap book of him. I am tring to get hold of a jersey of his . I am having alot of trouble . any suggestions to get hold of one would help . Thank you.

  2. pete noga Says:

    ” dear jamie wood

    you where saying that you wanted to fine out how would you go off getting
    AL NOGA minnnesota vinking football jersey go on line or call the n.f.l merchanse ………………….

    good luck

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