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Former Hawaii players, some parents and state senators blasted Hawaii head coach Todd Graham and UH officials on Friday night in a nearly three-hour Senate hearing on the state of the program, amid player departures and accusations of verbal abuse from Graham.

“He’s hands down the worst guy I’ve ever met in my life,” said defensive back Leonard Lee, who was recently removed from the team after previously speaking out about issues.

The hearing, in front of the state Ways and Means and Higher Education Committees, was called as player frustration with the culture under Graham has gone public. On Dec. 1, former players R.J. Hollis and Darryl McBride Jr. held a Twitter Space to discuss issues within the program amid player transfers. Recent and current players eventually joined the discussion and talked of Graham taking away their love of football through his verbal and mental abuse. From abrasive language to ignoring players who aren’t starters, they said the feelings were widespread. Similar sentiments came out in a San Franciso Chronicle article a few days later.

In total, 19 players have transferred out of the program, most notably starting quarterback and team captain Chevan Cordeiro, a Hawaii native who recently went to San Jose State. Athletic director David Matlin and Graham released statements on Dec. 28 about the portal losses, saying it had become a reality of college football.

 

On Friday, Graham and Matlin denied some accusations and said work was being done to fix the issues. Asked near the end of the hearing if he would fire Graham if the school could afford the buyout, Matlin said no, and that he believed in working through the problems.

State senators called the hearing because very little has come out publicly about what the school is doing to fix the issues. School president David Lassner, who was there in person, and Matlin, who attended over Zoom, maintained that work was being done.

“The absence of news does not reflect an absence of action,” Matlin said.

The committee members called up former players and parents to testify over video conference. Lee said he was kicked off the team because he spoke out about the issues on the original Twitter Space.

“Todd Graham likes to disguise it as discipline, the way he treats us and talks to us,” Lee said Friday. “The verbal abuse he has toward us, it’s stuff I wish I could share, but it’s too vulgar to share in this setting. Playing for him for two years was incredibly mentally draining. I’ve played football my whole life. I loved it as much as anyone. It was hard to wake up and go do something you love with a guy like that in charge. The only way to describe him is a tyrant.”

Lee said he only realized he had been removed from the team when he walked into the building a few days after the Twitter Space and saw his name wasn’t on his locker, along with being removed from the team group text chat. Coaches told him they figured he quit the team after his comments and when he failed to show up to practice, but Lee said no coaches called to check in on him.

Defensive end Derek Thomas, a California native, said players told the administration when former head coach Nick Rolovich left in 2019 that they wanted another head coach like Rolovich, one who understood the Hawaii culture and was personable. Thomas praised Graham’s passion for his Christian faith, but called the coach a hypocrite, saying Graham came in and promised not to change anything, but changed everything, and that his negative attitude drained the team.

“Coach Graham has truly has stripped the love and joy out of a lot of people for this sport,” Thomas said. “The transfer portal is blowing up. All of those guys are my friends. I know them, I talk to them, and there’s only one reason why they are choosing to leave this beautiful and incredible university; it’s because they cannot stand to have Coach Graham as the head coach any longer.”

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Starting quarterback and team captain Chevan Cordeiro, a Hawaii native who recently went to San Jose State, is one of 19 players who have transferred out of the program. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Thomas’ mother, Tina, later testified that she posted on Facebook how Derek was treated, after which Graham’s wife Penni messaged her, “I’m sorry that your son didn’t work hard enough.”

Tina said the family once bought Derek a ukelele for his birthday and he played it for family and friends the night before a game, but Graham and defensive line coach Dan Phillips told him to stop playing because “it’s effing annoying.” Tina also claimed Graham was overheard calling Hawaii a Third World country because a vending machine did not have Dr. Pepper.

Marie Eletise, the mother of Michael Eletise, an offensive lineman who medically retired after last season, said Michael has dealt with concussion issues. Eletise said Graham and the football program promised to help pay for treatment but haven’t responded to requests since then.

“When you come to a coach and say, ‘I am depressed,’ as an athletic department, we need to do better,” Eletise said. “We love this team, this island, and we don’t want to do anything to hurt the program. We believe in UH football. We’re proud Michael is going to be an alumni. But you’d think as a university, how many times do I have to beg for this football department to help our son? This is a lifetime of damage these players are going to experience. … After everything that happened this year, he doesn’t want anything to do with the game. It has changed him forever. We have begged for help from UH and gotten no response. We can do better as an island and as a university.”

Other people who testified included Hollis, McBride, former quarterback Justin Uahinui, Eletise’s father, Mililani High School head coach Rob York and local sports agent Michael Green. Almost all of the testimony was negative toward UH personnel. UH officials pointed out that open testimony was not supposed to be part of the hearing and said that it was “cherry-picked” testimony.

“I’m going to be honest, not everything that was said was true,” Matlin said.

Matlin said he began to hear about player morale issues toward the end of the season and that he held a players-only meeting that lasted four hours so he could hear their complaints. He heard legitimate issues and also cleared up false rumors, like the idea that Graham’s son Michael had been given a scholarship, which was not true. Matlin then had meetings with Graham to discuss the issues and said Graham agreed to change his language, create a player committee elected by the team to discuss issues and also help Graham get local mentors to help him understand Hawaii culture.

Graham was then brought into the hearing over Zoom, two hours after it had begun. He opened by explaining why he loved to coach and how much he wants to make a positive impact on players.

“I do not think we have a toxic environment in our locker room,” Graham said. “I am a demanding coach and I do that because I think our players deserve the very, very best. But obviously, there’s things that I’ve learned and there’s things you have to evolve, you have to get better at.”

Sen. Glenn Wakai then asked Graham to square the players’ comments about him being a tyrant with his own beliefs. When Matlin jumped in to say this was only a subset of players and expressed frustration that there was open testimony school officials weren’t told about, Sen. Kurt Fevella forcefully pushed back.

“It wasn’t a popularity contest,” Fevella said. “This was people who were complaining about disturbing things. … We have some mental health issues that none of you guys are understanding right now.”

Graham then said he didn’t believe it was an abusive culture and he could only speak to his experience. When Wakai asked Graham if he’s lost control of the team, given the number of transfers, Graham said he had exit interviews with all the players who entered the portal and there were several reasons why they left, including travel or better opportunities elsewhere. The transfer portal has impacted every school, and two UH transfers have landed at Power 5 schools.

Fevella said he was sent a letter that claimed Black and Polynesian athletes had racial slurs directed at them. Asked if he used the terms, Graham said, “Absolutely not. I would never do that.”

In the San Francisco Chronicle story in December, players said they’d decided to transfer because they believed the school didn’t have the money to pay Graham’s $1.275 million buyout, which is more than double what UH has ever paid to buy out a coach.

Wakai noted that Graham had not publicly apologized through the developing conflict and asked Matlin if he would terminate and buy out Graham’s contract if the school could.

“We have a plan to get better and we’re working on it,” Matlin said. “We’ve got people counseling and working with us. … To answer the question, no. I believe in people and I believe we need to continue to get better.”

State senators said the school’s Board of Regents should have been more informed about the issues and should take greater involvement.

All in all, Hawaii football remains in a tenuous place. The internal issues have spilled out into the public, and it’s not clear whether changes have had any effect, as players have continued to enter the portal since the season ended. The Rainbow Warriors (6-7) were supposed to play Memphis in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, but UH had to pull out due to roster issues from COVID and transfers. A handful of players entered the portal after that.

Hawaii athletics has always faced difficulties due to its location and costs. Aloha Stadium was deemed unsafe, and the football team played this season in a makeshift, 9,000-seat stadium built around the track on campus. But the team morale issues under Graham are a whole new layer.

The state government is involved now, frustrated that more has not been done and that what has been done hasn’t been more public. It’s not often a coach continues when so much player discontent is known. But it doesn’t appear any wholesale changes are on the horizon, or if they’re even possible.

After the hearing, Lee tweeted, “Through out all of this, just know, this is happening because we love the University of Hawaii.”

The Senate’s stated description of the hearing was to discuss the University of Hawaii’s football program, but also “budget and cost related to coaching staff contracts” and “issues relating to the transfer of players,” which included written testimony from student-athletes in other university sports.

Board chair Randolph Moore was among the UH officials questioned. Fevella said he was also sent a letter from a women’s basketball player who alleged that she took mistreatment concerns to the athletic department but was retaliated against. Fevella used this for a greater conversation about mental health.

Matlin said the player’s allegation that she lost her scholarship was a complete falsehood. He said the department has invested in mental health issues, experimented with Talkspace online therapy and hired a part-time employee to conduct mental health appointments with student-athletes.

“It’s the one thing that keeps me up more than anything else, and during COVID, it’s gotten worse,” Matlin said. “We’ve invested a lot into that and we’ve spent a lot of time and I’m very proud of our medical team. There’s more work to do.”

The hearing ended with senators asking that the school put any coaching contract extensions on hold.

Fevella went on his personal Facebook page for a live video after the hearing and shared more thoughts about the athletic department and football program, saying he would start a petition to get the UH Board of Regents to “get rid of” Graham, Matlin and Lassner.

“The athletic program isn’t just burning down, it’s burnt down,” he said. “It’s zero. It’s done.”

 

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1 hour ago, Liquor and Poker said:

I honestly dont remember Orlando being fired by Riley. 

As soon as Riley was hired, he offered to bring the entire OU defensive staff with him to SC. Grinch immediately accepted and left with him on the plane to LA the next day. Orlando getting axed was, I guess, a formality at that point.

The SC defense will have subpar coaches in the secondary (Grinch, Manning--who's the worst) and at LB (Odom--who I doubt stays in LA long). Shaun Nua, from Michigan, will be a definite upgrade at DL. He's a good recruiter and developer, and will probably do really well on the West Coast. They may still have another hire on the defensive side to make.

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2 minutes ago, taybo20 said:

Have a feeling this is going to get ramped up a little when these NFL hires get going. Especially if harbaugh leaves Michigan 

Also been rumors connecting Ryan Day with the Bears job but I’ll believe that when I see it. Harbaugh is much more likely to leave in my opinion.

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Rumor is that DC Jerry Azzinaro's resignation is an indication the Chip has relented.  Word is that one of the conditions of his extension is that Azz is out.  Chip was hired under the pretense that he would have full control of the program.  Well, guess what, 18-25 changes the terms.

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1 hour ago, Sbbruin said:

Rumor is that DC Jerry Azzinaro's resignation is an indication the Chip has relented.  Word is that one of the conditions of his extension is that Azz is out.  Chip was hired under the pretense that he would have full control of the program.  Well, guess what, 18-25 changes the terms.

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Yeah, thought Chip probably back for at least 1 more year since y'alls QB coming back for one more season with the Bruins...

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24 minutes ago, LTtxfan said:

Yeah, thought Chip probably back for at least 1 more year since y'alls QB coming back for one more season with the Bruins...

He just thinks he has leverage when he has none.  He has no hand.

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Looks like it's dotting "i's" time.

Spoiler

UCLA expects to sign Chip Kelly to a new contract within the next couple of days, according to sources close to the situation.

Kelly, who achieved his first winning season at UCLA in 2021 and has an overall record of 18-25 at UCLA, is days away from beginning the fifth and final year of the contract he signed in 2017 when he was hired.  

Kelly, his agent, Jimmy Sexton, and UCLA representatives, led by athletic director Martin Jarmond, have been in negotiation on a new contract before the fourth year of the original contract ends, which is at midnight on Jan. 15th.  The reciprocal buyout of $9 million also expires at that time, enabling either side to walk away without owing the other $9 million.

A very good UCLA source said there were only minor details remaining to be worked out, and expected the new contract to be signed by this weekend, and no later than midnight on Saturday, the 15th. 

Kelly's original contract would earn him $5.6 million in 2022, and it's believed the new contract will feature an increase from that amount, along with an extension and a reworked buyout. 

 

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38 minutes ago, Sbbruin said:

Looks like it's dotting "i's" time.

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UCLA expects to sign Chip Kelly to a new contract within the next couple of days, according to sources close to the situation.

Kelly, who achieved his first winning season at UCLA in 2021 and has an overall record of 18-25 at UCLA, is days away from beginning the fifth and final year of the contract he signed in 2017 when he was hired.  

Kelly, his agent, Jimmy Sexton, and UCLA representatives, led by athletic director Martin Jarmond, have been in negotiation on a new contract before the fourth year of the original contract ends, which is at midnight on Jan. 15th.  The reciprocal buyout of $9 million also expires at that time, enabling either side to walk away without owing the other $9 million.

A very good UCLA source said there were only minor details remaining to be worked out, and expected the new contract to be signed by this weekend, and no later than midnight on Saturday, the 15th. 

Kelly's original contract would earn him $5.6 million in 2022, and it's believed the new contract will feature an increase from that amount, along with an extension and a reworked buyout. 

 

Wonder how many years Chip's new contract will be ??

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On 1/9/2022 at 12:04 AM, notre dame joe said:

Rumors mention Chris Ash among others, as ND's next DC.  Do I need to know anything? 

He was one of the few staff members that a lot of us would have wanted (or at least not have been mad) for Sark to retain. He was much better than Todd Orlando, but that's not saying a lot. 

Overall, I don't think you should be upset if that's Freeman's choice - especially since that's Freeman's side of the ball. The players seemed to like him a lot.

Edited by MuellerHorn
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On 1/9/2022 at 12:04 AM, notre dame joe said:

Rumors mention Chris Ash among others, as ND's next DC.  Do I need to know anything? 

May be Iowa State DC...

Sources: Notre Dame finalizing deal with Stuckey, prioritizing Jon Heacock at DC

https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaafb/sources-notre-dame-finalizing-deal-with-stuckey-prioritizing-jon-heacock-at-dc/ar-AASIzns?ocid=uxbndlbing

 

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2 hours ago, quigley said:

Baylor's WR coach going to ND.

ND's pulled 1 player out of Texas in the last 4 years.

@notre dame joe Do you think this hire was for recruiting?

https://wacotrib.com/sports/college/baylor/baylors-stuckey-to-be-named-notre-dame-wr-coach/article_00e69a38-7411-11ec-b9b2-7fc9c8f9c0fa.html

From 1 year at Baylor?  Probably not.

 

Rumors are flying all over fly over country.  I did not expect Freeman would be all over the Big12 left-behinds                                                                                                                      

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Sources confirm Ohio State adding Cincinnati assistant coach, eyeing longtime NFL staffer

Ryan Day's overhaul of the Buckeyes' secondary almost complete

JOHN BRICE         1 HOUR AGO

Ryan Day is continuing his secondary overhaul at Ohio State, with a new hire for safeties, sources confirm to FootballScoop, and another expected move that also signals Kerry Coombs is likely to move on from the Buckeyes’ program.

Multiple sources confirm to FootballScoop that Perry Eliano is going to work with the Buckeyes’ secondary, and Tim Walton, a former Ohio State standout-player who spent more than a decade coaching in NFL defensive backfields, could be added before week’s end. The news was first reported by Austin Ward. 

The impending additions for the Buckeyes fill roles vacated when Matt Barnes left for the defensive coordinator role at Memphis while Coombs’ contract expires at month’s end.

Per sources, Coombs has heard from multiple NFL teams – including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans.

Eliano helped the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff this past season, as Cincinnati went undefeated with a road-win at Notre Dame. The Bearcats’ star-studded secondary included Coby Bryant, the Thorpe Award winner, and Ahmad Gardner. 

Walton is a former Buckeyes star from Georgia who spent the past season on Urban Meyer's ill-fated Jacksonville Jaguars staff. 

 

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https://www.theonlycolors.com/platform/amp/2022/1/13/22881820/michigan-state-football-spartans-to-hire-defensive-line-trainer-brandon-jordan-defensive-ends-coach

Brandon Jordan being hired by Michigan state to coach DL. Good hire; dude is a witch at coaching and will connect with recruits.  Very tied in FWK as well here in Houston; probably will be some Houston area kids looking at Michigan State in the future as a result.

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25 minutes ago, Enchubben said:

https://www.theonlycolors.com/platform/amp/2022/1/13/22881820/michigan-state-football-spartans-to-hire-defensive-line-trainer-brandon-jordan-defensive-ends-coach

Brandon Jordan being hired by Michigan state to coach DL. Good hire; dude is a witch at coaching and will connect with recruits.  Very tied in FWK as well here in Houston; probably will be some Houston area kids looking at Michigan State in the future as a result.

The reason this move is interesting is because Jordan doesn’t have too much college coaching experience. What he does have, however, is an incredibly impressive resume, training nearly 200 NFL players currently on active rosters.

Some of the NFL pass-rushers Jordan has trained include T.J. Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers), Cameron Heyward (Pittsburgh Steelers, brother of MSU’s Connor Heyward), Maxx Crosby, (Las Vegas Raiders), Chandler Jones (Arizona Cardinals), Josh Allen (Jacksonville Jaguars), Jadeveon Clowney (Cleveland Browns), DeMarcus Lawrence (Dallas Cowboys), Von Miller (Los Angeles Rams), William Gholston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers and former Michigan State Spartan), Brian Burns (Carolina Panthers), Bradley Chubb (Denver Broncos) and Danielle Hunter (Minnesota Vikings), among many others. He’s also worked with NFL wide receiver DK Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks).

At least one of Jordan’s trainees in Crosby, who recorded eight sacks this season for the Las Vegas Raiders, is a big fan of the move.

 

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Kelly and the school agreed to a five-year contract worth $23.3 million with a $9 million reciprocal buyout, a source told SI. Kelly initially met with UCLA brass early last week in San Francisco. Kelly was impressed by his meeting with Florida officials in New Hampshire last weekend, but in the end he was more comfortable living on the West Coast than in Gainesville.

https://www.si.com/college/2017/11/25/ucla-chip-kelly-head-football-coach-deal

 

 

So, 4.66 per year average over the contract. 

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I get your rage, Bruin, being happy about an alleged pay cut (that doesn't seem to be a pay cut), but if the guy sucks, he's overpaid at 1 million a year.  Fuck, he's overpaid at 100,000 per year, if he really sucks.  
But at the end of the day, why do you GAF about his salary?  

I could understand the frustration if you were in the running for a hot young coach and got outbid by somebody else.  But, chip making 3 or chip making 5 doesn't mean dick to the average dude sitting in the Rose Bowl on a Saturday. 

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12 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

I get your rage, Bruin, being happy about an alleged pay cut (that doesn't seem to be a pay cut), but if the guy sucks, he's overpaid at 1 million a year.  Fuck, he's overpaid at 100,000 per year, if he really sucks.  
But at the end of the day, why do you GAF about his salary?  

I could understand the frustration if you were in the running for a hot young coach and got outbid by somebody else.  But, chip making 3 or chip making 5 doesn't mean dick to the average dude sitting in the Rose Bowl on a Saturday. 

People go to UCLA games?

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From the ESPN story about Graham:

"Todd's tireless efforts as a coach have made a positive impact on many student-athletes," Matlin said in a prepared statement. "We have talked at length, and it is clear he has taken this action so that the football program can thrive moving forward."

 

I thought it was satire but, I think that guy was serious.

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