Wes Nakama: Hiring of Kevin Clune
could be a steal for UH football
HONOLULU - The hiring of former Utah State linebackers coach Kevin Clune
as the University of Hawaii football team's new defensive coordinator was met with mostly quiet reaction last week, from "Who dat?
to "Who cares?"
But a year from now, for the Rainbow Warriors the reaction will hopefully be, "What a steal!"
From several perspectives, that already could appear to the case.
may not have instant name recognition and does not come from a "name" brand program.
appears to be that person.
After five successful seasons as linebackers coach at Utah State, he is in prime position for a promotion to NCAA Division I defensive coordinator.
Maybe not at a top-notch program, but surely for a mid-to-low major school like Hawaii.
Utah State led the Mountain West Conference in eight defensive categories this past season, and three linebackers coached by Clune
earned all-conference honors.
By comparison, UH finished 115th in the nation (out of 125 teams) in total defense (494.7 ypg) and 113th in scoring defense (38.8 ppg) this past season.
duties as linebackers coach, Clune
was involved in all phases of the Aggies defense: game planning, scouting and play-calling.
He previously served as defensive coordinator at Weber State (2005-08), which advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals in 2008 and led the Big Sky Conference in pass defense (208.4 ypg) and pass efficiency defense (109.4) that season.
Clune also was defensive coordinator at Southern Utah in 2003 and 2004.
brings to the table these credentials and advantages:
There will be only a subtle learning curve as far as putting together effective scouting reports and game plans for Mountain West opponents, since he
already experienced success against most of them.
obviously knows what to expect from Utah State, which routed the Rainbow Warriors 47-10 last season.
already has a good idea about what UH and Chow are about, having just studied them less than three months ago.
also said he
and Chow had met and crossed paths many times before.
comes from a program that has similar challenges and resources as Hawaii, as opposed to someone used to coaching players from a different talent level - like Chow.
has proved he
can make Division I winners out of recruits who were not necessarily four-or-five-star caliber.
At $160,000 per year, he
will make 36 percent ($90,000/year) less than his
predecessor, Thom Kaumeyer.
That is crucial for an athletic department that is bleeding red ink and needing money for other things.
This job represents not just a climb in the coaching ladder but also a chance to prove he
has potential to climb even higher - like a top-level school coordinator position or even a head coaching job.
will first be judged by what he
The major question that remains is Clune's ability to relate to the Rainbow Warriors and recruit future ones.
lacks the strong Hawaii ties that the above-mentioned candidates have, and has yet to prove he
can recruit local and Mainland kids to UH.
But if he
can recruit players to spend two or four years at Logan, Utah, then Honolulu should not be much more difficult.
With National Letter of Intent Day only three weeks away, that may not matter much anyway for this recruiting season.
The more pressing matter is spring football and the 2014 season, and Clune
seems to be more prepared for that than anyone else UH could have hired, under the circumstances.
That, among other reasons, is why he
may turn out to be a steal.