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Hawaii Football Now: Episode 18

By: Jarin Kobashigawa

This week on Hawaii Football Now Episode 18, even with the UH Football team’s 2021 season being over, Jordan Helle and Hunter Hughes had a lot to unpack. The Hawaii Bowl became the 5th bowl game to be canceled due to concerns of health and safety, and then the program takes another hit, losing an additional four players via the transfer portal. Hughes and Helle explain that this ending seems fitting to how the season went.

The Canceled Hawaiʻi Bowl

News of the Hawaii Bowl being canceled flooded the islands and the nation with less than 24 hours left before the kick-off on Christmas Eve. After a month of internal turmoil, player preparation, and growing anticipation, Hawaii Football fans are denied the opportunity to see their team play one last time against Memphis.

This game meant more to fans, players, and coaches than just the final game of the 2021 season. After putting up a season-high 50 points against Colorado State and dominating Wyoming in their final two games, Hawaii was shaping up nicely to take on Memphis, a 6-6 team overall, and 3-5 team in conference. And with all the internal team drama and players entering the transfer portal, fans saw this game as both an answer to how broken this team is and what the 2022 season might look like.

Fans will have to wait another 8 months before they see their team in action again. And with additional players exiting, the 2022 team will look very different.

More Exits Via The Transfer Portal

The UH Football community was in disbelief when QB Chevan Cordeiro and RB Dae Dae Hunter entered the transfer portal in early December. But Hughes argues that the loss of rising senior linebacker, Darius Muasau in addition to wide-receiver Nick Mardner, defensive-linemen Jonah Lualu, and Justus Tavai hits harder.

Hughes points out that Muasau is the second of three team captains, and also a local athlete, to elect to leave the UH Football Program via the transfer portal. In total now, the team has lost 7 starters to the transfer portal and an 8th starter in Kai Kaneshiro who chose to retire from the sport. Five of those eight players play on defense which in this past season was ranked 5th in turnovers in the NCAA with 27 turnovers gained.

With all the player transfers, the news of 2 assistant coaches leaving the program is overshadowed. Coach Graham, the rest of the coaching staff, and the team have a lot of gaps to fill and a lot of work to be done.

Matlin and Graham’s Response

Amidst the social media transfer portal announcements, Athletic Director Dave Matlin and Head Coach Todd Graham both released statements in response to the players leaving. Helle points out that the fact that a statement was even released is a little unusual. Other programs dealing with the same transfer portal issues have not issued statements. Furthermore, Helle and Hughes were not entirely satisfied with what they had to say and sought a response that elicits more authenticity.

2022 Season Expectations

Does winning heal everything? Helle and Hughes agree that the environment surrounding this football team just feels unstable. So as Coach Graham enters his 3rd year at the University of Hawaii and really a defining year for him and his coaching staff, the true skill set of this coaching staff will be tested. They will have the chance to work with players that they recruited and will be challenged to fill a bunch of gaps in their line-up. 2022 will be a statement year for this program.

Thank you to the sponsors of the Hawaii Football Now Podcast, Spectrum, and Zanthosyn.