NCF Nation: Greg McMackin

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

December, 5, 2011
Let's take a look back at the week that was in the non-AQs:

And then there were none. For the first time since the BCS expanded to five games beginning in the 2006 season, there are no non-AQs represented in BCS games. The shocker of the weekend, of course, was Houston losing to Southern Miss 49-28. The Cougars were the best hope for the non-AQs to get an automatic spot into the BCS for the sixth straight season. All they had to do was win the Conference USA championship game. But Southern Miss came to play with a defense that wreaked havoc for most of the afternoon. The Golden Eagles had six tackles for loss, two interceptions, eight pass breakups and seven quarterback hurries. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown -- the eighth of the season to set a new FBS record. Tracey Lampley had 240 all-purpose yards as Southern Miss set championship game records for points scored and touchdowns (seven). Heading into the game, most would have guessed it would be Houston setting the records. But the Cougars were held to season lows in scoring and total offense. The loss opened the door for perhaps TCU to sneak in as an automatic qualifier. All the Horned Frogs had to do was move up two spots from No. 18 to No. 16 in the final BCS standings. But they did not move at all, ending up at 18. Boise State, the top-ranked of the non-AQs at No. 7, was disqualified from automatic selection because it failed to win its conference.

But what feels so inexcusable to Boise State and non-AQ fans is the fact that the Broncos were passed over for an-at large berth into the Sugar Bowl by both Michigan and Virginia Tech, ranked lower than them and with more losses than them. Virginia Tech is most galling, considering the Hokies got blown out in two games against Clemson, lost the ACC championship game and have not beaten anybody ranked in the Top 25 this season. So what if the Hokies travel well? That should not be the reason one team gets picked over another just as deserving. The bottom line is this: No one-loss team from the non-AQs has ever been taken as an at-large team. Boise State has now been passed over four times for BCS games as a top-10 team. That includes 2008, when the Broncos went undefeated. Now you know why they want to join the Big East. That conference's representative in the BCS, West Virginia, went 9-3.

MAC comeback. Usually it is Northern Illinois on the losing end of heartbreakers in the MAC title game. So maybe it was about time for the Huskies to feel a little bit of love. If you turned your TV set away from the game after Ohio took a 20-0 lead Friday night, you were probably not alone. Northern Illinois appeared lifeless, was mistake prone, with three first-half turnovers. Quarterback Chandler Harnish had 13 yards rushing and 35 passing yards at halftime. But it was Ohio's turn to make mistakes in the second half, with three interceptions that allowed Northern Illinois to come back and win. Ohio had just 70 total yards after halftime with 31 on the ground and 39 passing. Mathew Sims kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give Northern Illinois a 23-20 win and cap its largest comeback in modern-day history. Harnish finished the game with 250 yards passing and three touchdowns, and help avenge a heartbreaking, last-minute loss to Miami (Ohio) in last year's MAC game.

Coaching carousel. Fresno State fired longtime coach Pat Hill after the Bulldogs went 4-9, tying for the most losses in school history. Hill was at the school for 15 seasons and certainly put this program on the national map. But the Bulldogs slipped in recent years, and in the end he simply did not win enough games at the end of his career. Colorado State also fired coach Steve Fairchild after a third straight 3-9 season. UAB hired Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee to replace Neil Callaway. FAU hired Carl Pelini, Nebraska defensive coordinator and brother of Huskers head coach Bo Pelini, to take over for the retired Howard Schnellenberger. Also, according to reports, Ole Miss will hire Arkansas State coach Hugh Freeze after one season on the job with the Red Wolves, and Tulane will hire Saints assistant Curtis Johnson. Hawaii coach Greg McMackin met with the school's chancellor and athletic director on Sunday, and a decision on his future could come soon. The Warriors went a disappointing 6-7 this season after being the preseason choice to win the WAC.
There has always been a feeling of isolation in Hawaii. The islands are so far from the mainland and the time difference is so substantial that fans on the East Coast who want to watch the Warriors play need some NoDoze to keep them awake until the wee hours of the morning.

That is why credit is sometimes so hard to come by, because Hawaii is almost like a forgotten team. Losing 41-10 to Georgia in the 2008 Sugar Bowl after an undefeated regular season got the Warriors into the BCS for the first time did not help, either, because of the magnitude of the game.

Getting there was the high point for the program. Coach June Jones, who resurrected the Warriors and got to that point, left for SMU. Greg McMackin took over with mixed results, losing to Notre Dame in the Hawaii Bowl in 2008 and coming up just short of a bowl last season.

Bryant Moniz
AP Photo/Eugene TannerBryant Moniz has thrown for at least 300 yards in all but two of Hawaii's games this season.
But with Bryant Moniz leading the way in 2010, Hawaii is vastly improved. You may not know it, though, the way the WAC schedule gets denigrated on a daily basis. You may not know it if you look at the polls, which feature Nevada back in the Top 25. Nevada has a loss this season -- to Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the Warriors (7-2, 5-0 WAC) have reeled off six straight wins. At around 3:30 a.m. ET Sunday morning, Hawaii accepted an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl, the earliest the Warriors have ever secured a bowl invite. They are the first school officially into a bowl game this season.

Now comes the national spotlight, and a chance to show what is happening on the islands with a game at No. 4 Boise State (7-0, 3-0) on Saturday.

“We were supposed to be fifth to eighth in the conference from the people who did know us,” McMackin said on the WAC conference call Monday. “It really isn’t that big a deal. I’ve been on top-ranked teams -- it’s where you end up at the end. A lot of guys out there really don’t know your team and their hearts and what they do and how hard they work and that type of thing. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

You will not need an extra shot of espresso to stay up for this one -- it is an afternoon kickoff. For No. 4 Boise State, perfection is expected each week, but that is going to prove to be a difficult task against a Hawaii team that leads the nation in passing.

Moniz has improved dramatically since taking over the starting quarterback job last season, and with good reason. He started off as a walk-on buried on the depth chart, but injuries forced him into a starting role. Now that he has much more experience and a better grasp of a complicated offense, he is flourishing. Moniz is the only quarterback this season over 3,000 yards passing.

The defense has played well, too. Hawaii has given up 30-plus points twice this season, and just 17 points in its past two games. Of their two losses, the first was a valiant effort against USC, in which Moniz had to sit out the fourth quarter because of a hit to the head. The second was at Colorado at the end of a 12-day road trip that also featured a win at Army -- the furthest East the program had ever traveled.

That last loss -- Sept. 18.

“Hawaii’s playing as good as anybody out there,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “They’re on quite a roll.”

One last note to remember: Hawaii is the last team to beat Boise State in the regular season, 39-27 on Nov. 23, 2007, in Honolulu.
Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour will not throw at the NFL scouting combine this weekend.

Central Florida coach George O’Leary said he is “annoyed” that NCAA infractions happened on his watch.

Idaho has hired former San Diego Chargers tight end Al Pupunu to coach the Vandals' tight ends.

Buffalo running back James Starks has added some bulk and expects to run a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine.

Hawaii coach Greg McMackin looks to revamp his coaching staff as he heads into a critical third year.

Bowling Green receiver Freddie Barnes is preparing to impress NFL scouts.

Non-AQ coaches continue to fall

December, 1, 2009
The round of coach firings, dismissals, retirements, and resignations for the non-AQ should be coming to a close pretty soon.

Akron’s J.D. Brookhart was relived of his duties last Friday, Marshall’s Mark Snyder resigned on Sunday and in a little bit of a surprise, Louisiana-Monroe announced Monday that Charlie Weatherbie would not have his contract renewed.

By my count, there’s only one coach, maybe two, that should be concerned: North Texas’ Todd Dodge and Arkansas State’s Steve Roberts. Both fell way below expectations this year and during several years prior. I think Dodge is in more trouble than Roberts, but here’s a rundown of the coaching carousel:


David Elson, Western Kentucky (0-11, 0-7 Sun Belt; vs. Arkansas State)

Tommy West, Memphis (2-10, 1-7 C-USA)

Mike Sanford, UNLV (5-7, 3-5 MWC)

Dick Tomey, San Jose State (2-9, 1-6 WAC; at Louisiana Tech)

J.D. Brookhart, Akron (3-9, 2-6 MAC)

Mark Snyder, Marshall (6-6, 4-4 C-USA)

Charlie Weatherbie, Louisiana-Monroe (6-6, 5-3 Sun Belt)


Larry Porter, Memphis (LSU RB coach)

Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky (Stanford RB coach)


Todd Dodge, North Texas (2-10, 1-8 Sun Belt): Dodge lost his final regular season game last week to finish the year 2-10. He’s 5-31 in his three years with the program and the competitiveness of the Mean Green has been hit and miss. They lost their last three games by a score, but all of those losses came to teams with losing records. However, three years is not a long time for a coach. Dodge hasn’t gotten all of his recruits in place and at least offensively, there’s a lot of talent returning.

Steve Roberts, Arkansas State (2-7, 1-4 Sun Belt): Arkansas State beat North Texas last week and should defeat Western Kentucky this week to earn a 4-8 overall record, which is a far cry from what many were expecting. This spiral started last season when the team needed a win for a bowl and the Red Wolves haven’t gotten out of the funk. Arkansas State hasn’t had a winning season since 1995, but it has had three 6-6 seasons during Roberts’ eight-year tenure.


Mike Price, UTEP (4-8, 3-5 C-USA): UTEP AD Bob Stull said Price was safe before the beatdown of Marshall, but that solidified it. Even though UTEP underachieved this season, it still showed flashes of being a potential contender in Conference USA. Price will get one more year to see if he can turn the program around.

Mike Locksley, New Mexico (1-11, 1-7 MWC): Obviously, this was not an ideal season for New Mexico, but I said all along that Locksley needed just one win to keep his job and he got it against Colorado State. However, a sub-.500 record won’t cut it next year especially with the PR nightmare Locksley put the university through this season. He’ll need to show big improvement in 2010 to stay safe.

Greg McMackin, Hawaii (6-6, 3-5 WAC; vs. Wisconsin): A lot of credit goes to McMackin for the turnaround his team has performed in an attempt to save its season. The Warriors still need one more win for a bowl berth, but they were left for dead after a six-game losing streak through the middle of the season. The Warriors have won four in a row with Wisconsin coming to town.

George O’Leary, UCF (8-4, 6-2 C-USA): A lot of people wanted O’Leary fired after last season not only for the poor results on the field, but also some of the drama off of it. But Central Florida has rallied around its embattled coach and come up with an eight-win campaign and a bowl berth. The defense has been fantastic and O’Leary should be praised for getting the program back on track.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Fresno State has made a season exploiting teams with their rushing game and this weekend it might actually notch the Bulldogs a win.

Fresno State brings its No. 3 nationally ranked rushing offense to Hawaii this week to face a Warriors team that allowed 352 rushing yards in a 27-6 loss to Louisiana Tech last weekend.

Hawaii ranks 102nd in rushing defense this season with 183.00 yards per game. That’s just 35 fewer yards than Fresno State star running back Ryan Mathews is averaging himself this season.

“We weren’t attacked inside like we were last week,” Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said. “We’re going to be facing some good running backs and [Mathews] is one of the best if not the best that we’re going to see in the next four or five games.”

Hawaii’s defense has shown holes all season mostly because of inexperience. The Warriors returned just two starters from last year and star linebacker Brashton Satele suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during camp.

Up until last week, the Hawaii offense was able to keep the team in games despite the defense. But with starting quarterback Greg Alexander lost for the season with a knee injury and sophomore Bryant Moniz, who was originally the third-string quarterback, starting his first FBS game, the Warriors could be in for a long night.

Fresno State, which has opened the season 1-3 because of a brutal schedule, needs this win to have a shot at bowl eligibility. Coach Pat Hill didn’t mince words when talking about the importance of the game.

“We’ve always had great games with the University of Hawaii,” Hill said. “We’re looking forward to playing this football game. We’ve had a tough September as far as wins and losses. Our team has played very competitively, but we’re 1-3. This is a must-win for us in conference as I’d imagine it is for Hawaii.”

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Bryant Moniz came to Hawaii as a longshot to start at quarterback when he transferred from Fresno City College. But just a year later, circumstances have forced him into the starting role.

Moniz, who transferred to Hawaii after the 2007 season, walked-on and sat out last year, was named the starting quarterback for this week’s game against Fresno State after former starter Greg Alexander suffered a season-ending knee injury against Louisiana Tech.

“He’s got a good feel for the game, he’s very athletic, he’s got a very accurate arm, very smart,” McMackin said. “We just have to see where he is when he gets in the game. He’s been in a few games and done very well and quite honestly, you know how some players have ‘It’? He’s worked his way up and all the way we’ve said, ‘Shoot, he’s got It.’ So, we’ll find out now.”

Moniz moved into the backup spot the week before the Washington State game after Brent Rausch suffered a broken pinkie. He saw garbage time in that game, completing his only pass for 36 yards and rushing twice for four yards. After Alexander went down against Louisiana Tech, Moniz completed 5-of-11 passes for 109 yards.

At Fresno City College, Moniz threw for 2,268 yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman. According to a story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Moniz returned to Hawaii because he has a young daughter there. When he returned, he was invited to walk on to the team.

Sophomore Shane Austin will be the immediate backup and former quarterback turned running back Inoke Funaki will be available as a quarterback in an emergency situation.

“Our third and fourth-team quarterback are better than our quarterbacks were last year,” McMackin said of Moniz and Austin.

Alexander had surgery on Saturday and McMackin said the procedure went well. Because Alexander was a transfer, he had just two years to play two seasons. Alexander was the team’s starter at the end of last season and had helped the Warriors to a 2-1 record prior to the Louisiana Tech loss.

“His operation was very good,” McMackin said. “I talked to the surgeon, Greg’s mom and to Greg and the surgeon feels that he can play later on, but it won’t be for us because he’s had two to play two.

“We all feel terrible about what happened because he’s brought so much to this program and worked so hard to get where he was.”

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Hawaii is waiting to learn the extent of a knee injury suffered by quarterback Greg Alexander during the 27-6 loss at Louisiana Tech.

Alexander was scrambling during the third quarter when he took a shot from Louisiana Tech linebacker Adrien Cole and remained on the Hawaii sideline.

Alexander was eventually carted off the field.
"I just heard a pop, I don't know what happened," Alexander told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "It happened pretty fast, I think it got stuck in the turf a little bit, I'm not really sure."
Alexander was originally diagnosed with a sprained left knee, but is scheduled for an MRI on Sunday, according to the Star-Bulletin. He left the stadium Wednesday night on crutches and with a large brace wrapped around his leg.
"We don't know the extent of the injury, but it's not good," coach Greg McMackin said after the game.
Alexander came into Hawaii’s WAC opener as the nation’s leader in total offense, averaging 446 yards per game. He ranked second in passing average and fifth in passing efficiency. But Alexander struggled to get anything going against a stingy Louisiana Tech defense that kept pressure on him in the backfield all night. The Bulldogs sacked Alexander five times and sacked backup quarterback Bryant Moniz twice.

The Warriors were held without a touchdown for the first time since 2004, ending a streak of 62 games.

Alexander had passed for 199 yards and two interceptions at the time of his injury.

Posted by’s Graham Watson

Posted by's Graham Watson

The Western Athletic Conference issued a statement Monday reprimanding Hawaii coach Greg McMackin, but issuing no penalty for the use of a gay slur during last week's WAC media preview.

McMackin also has been warned that any further violations of the WAC Sportsmanship Code will result in an automatic one-game suspension, at the minimum.

Honestly, this isn't a surprise. I thought a reprimand would be the action both Hawaii and the WAC took after this incident. Hawaii said Friday that it had "suspended" McMackin for 30 days without pay (though he's still coaching for free) and will reduce his salary 7 percent (something he said before the incident he wouldn't mind doing for the good of the athletic program). He's also going to be heavily involved with the LGBT groups on campus.

Hawaii's trying to make an example of McMackin because it faced such national and local scrutiny, but I think the WAC made the right move not to suspend him. I think anyone watching McMackin's news conference on Friday realized he was incredibly remorseful for what he said.

Posted by's Graham Watson

Just over a minute into Greg McMackin's press conference on Friday, which was streamed live by the Honolulu Advertiser, he started to cry.

It was yet another thing for which he had to apologize for.

McMackin has spent the past 24 hours apologizing for an homosexual slur he made toward Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis during Thursday's Western Athletic Conference football preview. On Friday, at the behest of Hawaii's athletic director and chancellor, McMackin apologized yet again to a group of reporters and interested parties on the Hawaii campus.

Because of his gaffe, McMackin was suspended 30 days without pay and must take a salary deduction on par with that of athletic director Jim Donovan. Part of McMackin's salary reduction will go toward paying for a student intern at the LGBT center on campus and for campuswide workshops and awareness training.

Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw also announced that McMackin will, "participate in activities directed at improving the environment of our community, to working with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community on our campus." That includes McMackin participating in a public service announcement that details the power of offensive language toward the LGBT community.

Donovan said McMackin would stay on with the Hawaii football program on a voluntary basis so that the suspension doesn't hurt his team's chances to start the season properly. Because of the timing of the suspension, McMackin will miss no games.

"I just want to say that I made a big mistake," McMackin said. "I want to apologize to everyone and anyone that I offended with my remarks. I'm committed to do whatever I can to use this as a life lesson to learn from my mistake.

"When we make mistakes, we have to learn from it and make better people of ourselves. I talked to Charlie at Notre Dame. I wanted to apologize to him and his outstanding football team. I should have never brought Notre Dame's program up in my interview. I'm sorry that I said something so hurtful and I'm very remorseful."

McMackin stressed regret over his words and was clearly emotionally drained. Although he tried to compose himself, he cried throughout the last half of his press conference and abruptly left after he was finished reading his prepared statement.

The audience gave him an ovation as he exited.

(Read full post)

Posted by's Graham Watson

Hawaii coach Greg McMackin called Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis on Friday and Weis accepted McMackin's apology for using a derogatory slur toward Notre Dame during Thursday's WAC football preview.

Hawaii chancellor Virginia Hinshaw and athletic director Jim Donovan met with McMackin today and are scheduled to hold a press conference at 7:30 p.m. ET to address McMackin's comments and any possible punishment.

McMackin already has apologized at least four times publicly. Donovan said in a statement Thursday that the comment was out of character for McMackin. Donovan also noted that he spoke to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to apologize.

Although Notre Dame initially declined to comment, Weis said in a statement that he felt like he needed to address the issue since he wasn't due to meet with members of the press until media day next week.

Weis said he didn't believe there was malicious intent behind McMackin's comments.

"Yesterday, Coach McMackin demonstrated poor judgment when, while making comments critical of our football program, he used a derogatory word. Speaking only for our football program, we were offended by the remarks.

"This afternoon I received a phone call from Coach McMackin and he apologized to me and asked I pass that along to my players and coaches. We accept his apology and we will move on."

Posted by's Graham Watson

University of Hawaii chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw and athletic director Jim Donovan both issued statements Thursday evening expressing disappointment over comments made by head football coach Greg McMackin during the WAC football preview in Salt Lake City.

"Obviously we don't condone his remarks, particularly since we take such great pride in the diversity of our state and university," Donovan said. "I've conveyed my disappointment to him and he has expressed deep regret for showing such poor judgment."

On Thursday, in front of about a dozen media members, McMackin used a homosexual slur to describe a dance Notre Dame did during a banquet prior to last year's Hawaii Bowl. McMackin asked media not to print the derogatory word and later went on to apologize several times.

Stories about the incident first appeared in the Idaho Statesman and Reno Gazette Journal. The Idaho Statesman also posted audio of the new conference. The story has since spread nationally drawing outrage from media members and activists.

According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the O'ahu chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays issued a statement voicing its disapproval.

"PFLAG O'ahu is appalled that the head coach at UH-M would be so unprofessional, so homophobic and so prejudicial that he would voice a gay slur even in jest. Behind closed doors is bad, but to voice the 'F' at a press conference at the Western Athletic Conference Football Preview is unacceptable."

Both Hinshaw and Donovan said the use of the slur was out of character for McMackin.

"I know that Coach McMackin deeply regrets his comments because they do not represent his personal beliefs nor those of the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, which supports an inclusive campus environment for all students," Hinshaw said.

Donovan said he has already spoken with and apologized to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. Notre Dame declined to comment on the ordeal. Donovan also said he would meet with McMackin when he returned to Hawaii today.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he would wait for Hawaii to deal with the situation before deciding if any action needed to be taken at a league level.

Posted by's Graham Watson

Hawaii and coach Greg McMackin have issued the following statement:

SALT LAKE CITY -- University of Hawai'i head football coach Greg McMackin apologized for comments he made during his formal press conference with the print media at today's Western Athletic Conference Football Preview.

"I sincerely apologize for the inappropriate words that I used," McMackin said. "My comments were out of character and I have no prejudices against anyone. I'm really upset with myself and I'm truly sorry for my remarks."

"I'd also like to add that I have nothing but respect for the University of Notre Dame. It's a fine institution with a proud football tradition."

Posted by's Graham Watson

While speaking to a group of about a dozen reporters during the WAC media preview, Hawaii coach Greg McMackin used a homosexual slur to describe a dance Notre Dame performed at a banquet the night before last year's Hawaii Bowl.

"They get up and they do this little cheer, like this," McMackin said Thursday, while clapping. "You know, this little f----- dance."

After he begged and pleaded with the media at the WAC media preview in Salt Lake City to "cover" for him and not print the slur, and then later making a futile attempt at an apology, the media in attendance banded together and decided to run the story.

It was the right thing to do.

This wasn't the first time McMackin has made a gaffe at the WAC media preview. Last year, he spoke about a player he was recruiting, realized mentioning the player's name was against NCAA rules, and asked the media to cover. We refrained from writing about the incident mostly because McMackin was a new head coach and using the name of the recruit was inadvertent and insignificant.

But McMackin's latest comments were hard to let go and newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and the Reno Gazette Journal did the right thing. The Idaho Statesman has even published the audio of both the initial comments and McMackin's WAC-encouraged apology.

So what now?

Well, Hawaii is supposed to issue a statement about the events this afternoon and the school should decide what, if any, punishment will be levied against McMackin. Then WAC commissioner Karl Benson, who was in the room for the initial comments, will determine a response from the league.

There might also be a backlash from gay rights activists as well as from Notre Dame.

I have to admit the published comments from McMackin's initial news conference and then his string of apologies were like a snowball running out of control. You kind of just wanted someone to tell him to stop talking. Then, in his final apology, he sounded like a child who got caught doing something he shouldn't have.

"I would sincerely like to apologize for the inappropriate verbage, words that I used," he said. "... I'm really ticked off at myself for saying that. I don't have any prejudices and it really makes me mad that I even said that and I'm disappointed in myself. ... What I was trying to do was be funny and it's not funny and even more it isn't funny to me. I was trying to make a joke and it was a bad choice of words and I really -- I really, really -- feel bad about it and I wanted to apologize. I'm going to apologize to my team. I'm going to apologize to the people in Hawaii."

So now we wait for what will likely be at least a week of deliberation about what to do with McMackin and how to quell the situation.