Few people were surprised by the firing of University of Hawaii head football coach Norm Chow.

In almost four years at UH, his teams won 10 games and lost 36, for a .217 winning percentage. Against teams in the weak Mountain West conference, his teams went 4-25, winning less than one game in seven.

While Chow’s teams turned losing into a habit, attendance at home games and ticket sales plummeted.

Chow did do some things well. Most notably, his student-athletes performed better academically than student-athletes did under Greg McMackin and June Jones, his two predecessors.

UH Football coach Norman Chow reacts to action in first half of game versus UNLV. ALOHA STADIUM, HONOLULU, HAWAII. photo CORY LUM/ CIVIL BEAT

Former UH football coach Norm Chow was already on a downward trajectory when he was hired here.

Cory Lum / Civil Beat

I commend Chow for emphasizing academics and for caring about the conduct of his players on and off the field. His players had none of the on-field fights and few of the off-field incidents that plagued UH teams in the past. By all accounts, Chow is also a deeply decent human being. In the game of life, this is the most important fact of all.

And yet I need to report (as I have in the past) that Chow never should have been hired as head coach. The decision to give him his first head coaching job placed too much emphasis on his impressive accomplishments in the distant past and not enough stress on what he had done in the years immediately preceding his appointment at UH.

Careers have a trajectory, and Chow was clearly on the downside of his when he was hired at UH.

After a long and successful run as an assistant coach at BYU and North Carolina State, Chow joined the USC staff in 2001, where his offenses performed very well. He left USC in 2004 to become offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans in the NFL, and he was fired three years later, not least because his offense produced only nine touchdown passes in the 2007 season.

Chow then became offense coordinator at UCLA, which has many promising high school players in its backyard. But in three seasons there, Chow’s offense consistently sputtered. In 2010, when UCLA’s offense finished 118th out of 120 teams in passing efficiency, he left the team rather than be demoted.

Chow’s last post before being hired at UH was as offensive coordinator at Utah. In his sole season there (2011), the team finished 9-4 and tied for third in the Mountain West Conference, but his offense finished 106th in total yards among the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

June Jones

June Jones

Chow’s trajectory — a long flight at a high level followed by a clear descent before crashing at UH — might be better off forgotten if there was not such a clamor to rehire June Jones as his replacement. A sober look at the record shows that Jones is not the “turn around” master many claim he is. It also suggests that the 62-year-old Jones may well be on the downside of his career.

In his nine years as head coach at UH (1999-2007), Jones’ players performed poorly in the classroom and behaved badly in various ways, but his teams compiled an excellent on-field record of 76-41. Thereafter, in six years and part of a seventh as head coach at Southern Methodist University (in another weak conference), he had a record of 36-43.

In 2011 Jones tried to leave SMU for the head coaching job at Arizona State University, but he ended up back at SMU after ASU pulled the offer. In 2012 SMU finished 7-6, in 2013 the team was 5-7, and in 2014 after an 0-2 start in which SMU was outscored by a combined score of 88-6, Jones quit the team without explanation. His last game was a 43-6 defeat to North Texas, which finished the season 4-8.

After Jones quit, SMU went on to lose all but one of the remaining games in the 2014 season (finishing 1-11). For the year, the team that Jones built was outscored 133 to 456 (by comparison, the 2014 UH team that finished 4-9 was outscored 272 to 349). SMU also had the dubious distinction of finishing second in 2014 (behind Georgia State) in ESPN’s season-ending “Bottom 10” rankings. Here is the blurb about SMU that appeared on the day that loser list was published:

“The [ESPN] committee was fully aware that we would receive some criticism for having SMU ranked No. 1 essentially all season long and then moving them out on the final weekend (after 0-11 SMU defeated a 2-9 Connecticut team). And we did consider leaving them in the top bottom spot because of their inability to properly execute the Victory Formation at the end of the game and a decidedly weak Gatorade jug effort. But the committee also recognized that the Mustangs did manage to avoid becoming the first team to finish last in both scoring offense and defense since 2005 …  (see http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/page/bottom101209/georgia-state-rallies-claim-top-spot-bottom-10).

The SMU football team has fared little better in 2015, the first full year after Jones supposedly rebuilt the program. As of the time of Chow’s firing on November 1, a team made up mostly of players recruited by Jones is 1-7 and has been outscored by an average of 17 points per game.

SMU’s record in 2014-15 is 2-18. This is worse than SMU’s record (7-17) in the two years before Jones became head coach at that school and it is worse than UH’s record under Norm Chow (6-16) over the same period of time — and Chow did not quit on his team.

After head coach Greg McMackin was pressured to resign in 2011, UH executives should have looked carefully at Chow’s recent record. He is a good man and for many years was a fine football coach, but hiring him was more an act of nostalgia and wishful thinking than it was an exercise of sound judgment.

I hope my university does not repeat that mistake.

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