As the Rainbow Warriors prepare for the final game of a long, tumultuous season, there was a glaring absence at practice the last two days. Defensive coordinator Tom Mason was nowhere on the field. Interim head coach Chris Naeole said Wednesday that the 'Bows first-year DC had been reassigned to focus on the academic success of the football team.
"The student-athlete has two more weeks to finish on a strong note," Naeole said. "We need all the help we can get and transition that to the next coach that's taking over this program."
When pressed for details regarding why the move was made or if it stemmed from recent performances on the field, Naeole repeated "for the academic success of this football program."
It's one more change in a season, and career for the seniors, that's been filled with them.
"He's my position coach, so it was a tough call, but Coach Naeole is our new head coach and whatever he wants, I'm riding with him," senior captain Julian Gener said. "That's what he (Naeole) felt was the right decision for the team, so that's what we have to do."
When asked about the toll the coaching changes have taken on the players, Gener admitted it has run its course already.
Under Mason, Hawaii had success defensively at the beginning of the season, staying in games with #1 Ohio State and Wisconsin despite zero points from the offense. In Mountain West play, it was a different story. The Rainbow Warriors averaged 40.5 points against per game. The last three home games is where it particularly unraveled. UH gave up 34, 28 and 35 points in the first half of lopsided losses to Air Force, Fresno State and San Jose State.
UH-Manoa graduate and first-year secondary coach Abe Elimimian will take over for Mason in the season finale against Louisiana-Monroe Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
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