McMackin ready to pick up where Jones left off at Hawaii

Updated: January 16, 2008, 8:45 PM ET
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Greg McMackin's first head coaching job was with the Warriors of Aloha High School in Oregon. Now, 40 years later in the land of aloha, he has come full circle.

McMackin was hired as Warriors football coach Wednesday after serving as its defensive coordinator last season on a team that went undefeated until losing the Sugar Bowl.

Greg McMackin

McMackin

He replaces June Jones, who left the Warriors to coach SMU less than a week after they were routed by Georgia. McMackin agreed to a five-year deal that will pay him $1.1 million a season, making him the highest paid coach in school history. He will earn 10 times his 2007 salary.

McMackin, 58, is a former assistant with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. He said the Warriors will not change their wide-open offense that flourished last season behind NFL-bound quarterback Colt Brennan.

"What we have to do is build on what we have now," he said at a news conference. "We're going to keep what June has built. There's no reason to fix something that isn't broken."

McMackin said he wants to be the "glue to hold it together" so the team can continue on.

The Warriors finished the regular season 12-0, then lost 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl. After Jones left for SMU, athletic director Herman Frazier was fired amid widespread criticism about failing to re-sign the coach. McMackin acknowledged losing a couple of recruits during that time, including former BYU quarterback Jacob Bower, who has committed to Tulsa. But he plans to aggressively recruit in Hawaii and American Samoa.

"I'm not really worried about this recruiting season because we're going to get who we can get," McMackin said. "We're not going to hurry. We want to bring in good kids, so we're not just going to scramble and get anybody that's out there."

McMackin's last head coaching position was at Oregon Tech from 1986-89, where he had four winning seasons. He was selected at Hawaii from nearly 30 applicants. A selection committee led by acting athletic director Carl Clapp and chancellor Virginia Hinshaw interviewed only a few finalists and unanimously chose McMackin.

"He is a quality human being who will represent our football program, the university and the state with class and dignity," Clapp said.

Linebacker Adam Leonard, who was on the nine-member committee, said McMackin was the easy choice, based on his experience, credentials and ability to lead.

The Warriors were looking forward to moving on after a chaotic two weeks.

"It tarnished the season that we had," he said. "People kind of forgot what kind of season it was. They were more concerned with coach Jones and whether he was going to leave or not."

With his wife of 40 years, Heather, in the front row during the announcement, McMackin said his goal was to become a head coach again. He had possible opportunities at Miami and Utah in the past, but the timing wasn't right.

Now it was. He was endorsed by Jones, the assistant coaches and boosters, who all wanted a seamless transition.

"This is my last contract ... unless they extend it," McMackin said. "We love it here."

Jones said McMackin was the right decision.

"Greg will do a great job," he said. "He has a lot of good young players coming back and can put his touch on the entire team this spring."

McMackin just completed his second stint leading Hawaii's defense, having also served in 1999. Hawaii won Western Athletic Conference titles in both seasons, compiling a 21-5 record.

This past season, McMackin installed an aggressive 4-3 scheme. Hawaii finished 34th in the nation in total defense, allowing 347.8 yards, the best in Jones' nine seasons at the school.

The Warriors were 93rd the previous season under Jerry Glanville despite having a team that finished 11-3 record and featured two defensive lineman who were drafted by the NFL. The Warriors were 102nd in 2005 and 116th in 2004.

In McMackin's first season at Hawaii in 1999, his defense was ranked 35th nationally, much improved from 109th the previous season.

McMackin wouldn't comment on his staff other than to say he wanted all the assistants to stay. Three have already joined Jones in Dallas. Warriors receivers coach Ron Lee is expected to become Hawaii's offensive coordinator.

McMackin was the San Francisco 49ers linebackers coach from 2003-05. Before that, he was the defensive coordinator for three seasons at Texas Tech. He was also the defensive coordinator with the Seahawks from 1995-98 and at several colleges, including Miami.

Hawaii faces a tough schedule next season, opening at Florida. The Warriors have several key defensive players returning but will have to rebuild the offense. The team has lost Brennan and all four starting receivers. Among them are Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen, who are skipping their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft.

McMackin assured only one thing: "The next time we get to the Sugar Bowl, we're going to kick their (butt)."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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