Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 |
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The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors didn’t let 2015 close out before making one final splash. New head football coach Nick Rolovich filled four of his assistant positions on Thursday and the hires must be considered a victory for a program that needs to completely retool.
The most notable of Rolovich’s hires is the Bows’ new defensive coordinator, Kevin Lempa.
Most anyone who knows me is aware that I’m something of a junky when it comes to “The West Wing.” Sometimes if I’m facing some writer’s block, I’ll put on old episodes and just listen to the dialogue to hopefully gain some word linkage through osmosis. Though writer’s block isn’t currently an issue, I was immediately reminded of a specific quote from the show when I saw the Lempa hire and eyed his resume.
Late in Season 6, when the Democrats are in disarray and with no nominee during their convention, one of the proposed president-vice presidential tickets is worrisome for Donna Moss, who says the potential VP is “too much voltage at the bottom of the ticket … gets people wishing the names were reversed.”
Kevin Lempa isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s very qualified and should be a great defensive coordinator for Hawaii. He was with the program in the same capacity from 2000 to 2002 and, more recently, headed up the secondary for Boston College. With Lempa’s assistance, the Eagles gave up the fewest yards in the country this past season and have been one of the toughest defenses in the nation throughout his tenure.
Sean Duggan is also coming from BC with Lempa to take over as linebackers coach.
Now, I might be thinking of this a bit too fatalistically. Perhaps the way Hawaii’s football program has descended lately puts me in that position before it’s really appropriate. While Rolovich was a no-brainer as a hire and is considered one of the best young offensive coaches in the country, the 63-year-old Lempa would be a very capable stopgap if things were to continue to go south and in need of yet another change.
It seems to be a double-edged sword these days for college coaches. They obviously want to put together the best staff they can, but if things take a turn for the worse and there’s a capable, convenient replacement just down the hall, that can be an attractive option for an athletic director.
Lempa has been an assistant coach for 42 years, which tells you a few things. He’s obviously knowledgeable and has gained experience at numerous stops, but he’s also never been deemed worthy of a head coaching position.
But with a football program that continues to lose money and has only won 11 games in four seasons, he could be seen as a cheap option if Rolovich were to not work out.
Rolovich should have a long leash in terms of his job status. I say “should” because it’s impossible to assume anything. Chip Kelly is out in Philadelphia after less than three seasons and winning 10 games twice as an NFL novice. Mark Richt was 145-51 as Georgia’s head coach and had three double-digit win seasons in the past four years before being fired in November. Gib Arnold was considered a long-term hoops option for UH before NCAA violations said otherwise.
It’s now in my genetic code to look down the line and see the potential pecking order. Hopefully Rolovich is here for as long as he chooses to be, but he’s compiled a strong staff with a couple of names that could provide some high voltage if the rumor mill is given good reason to churn once again.
David Simon can be reached at email@example.com.
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