Former Hawaii football players express support for continuity in coaching search


Craig Stutzmann

A common theme among current and former members of the Hawaii football team is a desire for continuity among the next coaching staff.

Although it’s anticipated that Nick Rolovich is likely to take some of his assistants with him to Washington State, the hope among former Rainbow Warriors Kaimana Padello, Dayton Furuta and Nate Ilaoa is that some still remain to coach the 2020 UH team and beyond. All three expressed to KHON2’s Rob DeMello that there are capable assistants from the 2019 team to take the helm.

Padello and Furuta, who were among the team captains of the 2019 squad that went 10-5, are both done playing college football since each exhausted their eligibility. However, the two have seen enough to know that the ‘Bows can keep winning if a familiar face is there to lead them.

“The open spot for the head coach, I hope somebody can fill it in on top of the staff,” Padello said. “Having coaches that you know you’ve been with, through war with, kind of understanding how they think, how you think, how you are, they just understand Hawaii in general.

“That’s always gonna be big. I think It just comes down to the players in the end. They just gotta understand that they gotta stick together even more.”

Padello and Furuta both expressed how happy they are for Rolovich and his new $15 million contract. Although they both did not name names, Furuta is on the same wavelength as Padello on who should be next at the helm.

“Hopefully it’s someone that’s still on staff to just keep this train going and I think it’ll be a quick transition and an easy transition if it’s one of our coaches already,” Furuta said.

Nate Ilaoa, the memorable running back who played for UH from 2001 to 2006 before a brief stint in the NFL, was more direct. He believes quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Craig Stutzmann is the man for the job, citing his familiarity with the team and the state. Stutzmann is a Saint Louis alum and former UH receiver.

“Going forward, I’d love for somebody to maybe that’s already on staff. Craig Stutzmann always comes to mind in this situation now. Somebody who knows the run and shoot, who has a genuine love for the islands, who’s an alum, somebody that would definitely do a great job in my opinion,” Ilaoa said. “Just to keep it consistent for the kids’ sake as well. For the kids they know the face, they know coach Craig, they know what he’s able to do, they know what he’s about, and I think that helps things kind of be kind of seamless from this move from Rolo being able to do his thing and moving forward for the University of Hawaii.”

Whoever the new head coach may end up being, Furuta knows the infrastructure is there for the team to build off of what Rolovich left behind.

“To all my brothers back at UH that are still there, it doesn’t change,” Furuta said. “We got a coach, we don’t got a coach, they know what it takes to win. Some of them been there when we weren’t winning so they know the difference. They know how much work they gotta put in this offseason and I’m confident that UH is still going to be up there next year.”

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