1976 - 81 Rainbows
(Authentic Reproduction)




1976 began with the NCAA’s announced intention to downgrade the Hawaii program to Division 1AA but AD Ray Nagel was successful in maintaining their D-1 status. For the third consecutive year, there was an alteration in the helmet design. New artwork was commissioned (and obtained by HELMET HUT from the University Of Hawaii) and the discerning Hawaii fan noted that the Rainbow Warrior figure was now more dominant than that of the accompanying rainbow and his headdress rose through and above the rainbow. The appearance of the decal was more oval and less circular than the one used on both sides of the white shell in ’75 but every bit as attractive. Maintaining the green face mask again allowed the overall contrast to present a polished look. OG Dan Audick stood out on this disappointing 3-8 squad, another Bill Starr weight room success story, building himself up to a powerful 252-pounds and playing in the NFL with the Cards, Chargers, Forty-Niners, and Cards again during a productive seven-year career. He opened holes for exciting FB Wilbert Haslip who had rushed for 1057 yards in his first two seasons. Losing DT Harris Matsushima early to injury limited the defense and they gave up staggering numbers throughout the year; forty-eight to San Jose State, fifty-six to Texas A&I, thirty-four to Grambling, and in the two closing contests, fifty-nine to Oregon State and sixty-eight to Nebraska! Frosh Tom Tuinei was moved from LB to DT to take advantage of his 255 pounds. The secondary was a particular problem.


Price had the responsibility of guiding the program from the Division II to the Division 1 level and eventual admission to the Western Athletic Conference and did so under the burden of working for four different AD's in his three years at the helm. Unfortunately, the dismal performance of '76 led to a general malaise among many of the players and the consequence was a high number of academic casualties in the spring semester. Price was battling with new AD Ray Nagel, the former head coach at Utah and Iowa over the poor facilities. The coach's office, located on campus in what had once been a quarry and elevated on pilings, literally floated away on the rising tide. Recruits were ferried over to see the dorms on life rafts. A new Governor and University President were making demands of the program, scheduled to enter the WAC in 1979, that could not be fulfilled and the poor academic showing of so many players was a source of tension. 1977 spring practice concluded in early May and with assistants on the road recruiting, Price remained embroiled in arguments over the direction and philosophy of the program and the academic problems facing the team. Unable to resolve the major issues with the administration, Price resigned. He went on to business success and a subsequent career in radio broadcasting and the search was on for a new coach at this late hour. Future Saints and Colts head coach Jim Mora was interviewed but UCLA defensive coordinator Dick Tomey jumped at the chance to lead his own program and was deemed the man for the job. Tomey had been a football and baseball stand-out at Indiana’s DePauw University and served as an assistant to both John Pont and Bo Schembechler at Miami University in Ohio. Under Pepper Rogers at Kansas and UCLA he built a reputation as an excellent defensive coach and his new Hawaii team showed better discipline and some obvious improvement in his debut. Tomey did a reasonable job in going 5-6 considering that he and his staff did not arrive on campus until after spring drills had concluded. One of the results of moving up to a full D1 status and schedule was the institution of the standard transfer rule that did not allow players who moved from another Division 1 school to immediately have eligibility to play but rather required them to sit out a year, an advantage that had served Hawaii well for decades. Tomey's staff had to recruit twenty-three true freshmen rather than scour the country for disgruntled players seeking a change of scenery and they did it well after that first spring. In '77, a new 5-2 defensive alignment eliminated the pin-ball machine scores that had been run up on the Rainbow Warriors in 1976 and the tenth game of the season provided the nation with a stunning upset of South Carolina.  Soph Tom Tuinei was outstanding at DT. QB Jeff Duva stepped in with 1487 passing yards, and again, Wilbert Haslip led a deep backfield from his FB position. Two of the coaches from Price's staff who left when Tomey came in were Dan Dorazio who has spent over three decades as an assistant at various big-time stops and currently is a long-time CFL assistant, and Dom Capers. Capers, who eventually became the head coach with the expansion NFL Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans after helping to develop what has become the widely-utilized zone blitz defense with the Steelers, is currently the defensive coordinator for the Packers.  


Against a full slate of tough games, the ’78 Rainbow Warriors went 6-5 in preparation for joining the WAC the following season and beat three of four conference mates. With TE Jerry Scanlan an inviting 6'6", 250 pound target, QB Duva again put up good numbers, finishing with 1463 passing yards but frosh TB Gary Allen switched from WR, finished the season like a house on fire, rushing for close to 100 yards per game over the final six contests and was the only freshman named to the UPI Honorable Mention All American Team. Fullback Haslip who completed a solid career and is still considered one of the great blocking backs in UH history, gave the team a rather fearsome ground game. Haslip later earned time in the Chargers training camp and a season with the Chiefs. Another freshman, Dana McLemore, was a terrific kick and punt returner as well as a solid DB. An injury to Tuinei limited his play which hampered the defense. As a full member of the WAC, Hawaii posted another 6-5 season in 1979 and upset Arizona State 29-17 in the season finale. Despite moving big Jerry Scanlan between TE and OT, the passing game was weak through no fault of Scanlan's who played with the Redskins as an interior offensive lineman for two seasons. All WAC TB Allen's 1040 yards made the Rainbow Warriors the league's top rushing team, averaging 257 yards per game. A freshman guard who made an impression as large as his 240-pound frame was Jesse Sapolu, another All WAC pick. DT Tuinei came back well from his '78 injury, was All WAC and put in a year with the Lions before going on to a productive career with Edmonton of the CFL. Blane Gaison, a nephew of legendary Islands standout Herman Wedemeyer, kept switching between QB and DB dependent upon where he was needed and always came to play, and had help in the secondary from Lyndell Jones and Dana McLemore. New blood was injected into the defense by Freshman All American Steve Lehor who added 117 tackles to the team total.      


Running back Allen battled turf toe all through 1980 and the Rainbow Warriors were out of the conference race quickly after dropping their first two games. However, showing their grit and the experience of hosting seventeen returning starters from the ’79 squad, they completed their best ever D1 record at 8-3. Blane Gaison continued to swing from QB to DB as needed but the strength remained in the run, even with a hobbled Allen who still recorded 884 rush yards. RB’s George Bell and David Tolomu who doubled as a terrific kick returner carried the load. Opening the holes was Keith Ah Yuen and Ed Riewerts, an All WAC and Honorable Mention All American who continues to compete in age-group discus meets after spending a number of years as UH line coach. Dana McLemore again started in an effective secondary with Mark Kafentzis, the first in a long line of family members to represent the University. The surprise of the year however was All WAC frosh NG Falaniko Noga. Inside LB Lehor was extraordinarily productive with 115 tackles. Gaison who had so admirably given his all went to the Falcons as a DB and return man from ’81 to 1984 and later served his community well as a high school coach and administrator as well as the coach of a local canoe club. Allen was the key player among fifteen returning starters for the great '81 team and made a mark with the Oilers and Cowboys in a brief pro career after becoming Hawaii’s career rushing leader with his senior total of 1006 yards. The running and blocking of FB Tolomu contributed to Allen’s success as did the work of O-linemen 6’9” Jim Mills, Ah Yuen, and Sapolu. The 9-2 record which earned Tomey the WAC Coach Of The Year Award came with great defensive work by a front seven that included NG Noga and DT Itai Sataua. With fine LB Steve Lehor limited by injury, CB McLemore had to step up and he did before spending all but half a season of his seven year pro career with San Francisco. Safety Kafentzis continued his fine performances and opened the door for a total of five brothers and three Kafentzis nephews who all played in the program.   




Perhaps it was good fortune or good coaching when the decision was made to move wide receiver Gary Allen to running back during the course of a bye-week his freshman season. After a sparkling scrimmage performance, Allen made the staff look like geniuses as he rolled up more than ninety yards per game. His soph total of 1040 yards, averaging more than six yards per carry and achieving six 100 yard-plus games would have been better had he not been injured through the first four contests. Though his 202 yard performance against UTEP was a statistical highlight, his 155 against Arizona State was more fiercely earned and proved he could play huge against the biggest of opponents. His junior year was hampered by a turf toe injury but Allen went out on a high note in ’81, again topping the rush charts with 1006 yards while leading his team to a 9-2 finish. Three years divided between the Oilers and Cowboys of the NFL saw him serve as a return man and he followed with three seasons with Calgary in the CFL. He led the league in rushing in ’86 and called it quits after a brief stint in Winnipeg in 1988. Allen’s legacy at Hawaii includes a slew of rushing related records that still stand and he is considered to be the greatest back in the program’s history. Allen returned to his home town of Baldwin Park, CA to serve in the County administration and contribute to his high school team as an assistant coach.

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