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[December 27, 2012]
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Ferd's Words column
Dec 27, 2012 (The Honolulu Star-Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- When we last glimpsed Nick Rolovich at Aloha Stadium in September, he was giving the place one long last look as if he might not be back again for a while.
The scoreboard lights were turned off, so you knew he wasn't just basking in Nevada's 69-24 runaway victory, but, more likely, soaking in the memories accumulated at the place.
Rolovich invested six years at UH as a player and coach and it has been easy to see that getting back to Halawa on something more than the visitor's sideline has never been far from his heart.
That is something to keep in mind as head coach Norm Chow goes about filling the vacancy that will be left by the retirement of 71-year-old Tommy Lee as the Warriors' offensive coordinator and receivers coach.
The addition of Rolovich would be a hard one to beat for the Warriors, on a lot of fronts.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old Rolovich has not only a passion for the game but a real instinct for it, qualities that would serve Chow well as the other, more administrative, demands of being a head coach take him away from the X's and O's.
After the long hours of a rookie year in the head coach's office and all that has come with it, that is something that has undoubtedly not escaped Chow, who will be 67 before the 2013 season kicks off.
You got the feeling that Chow might have retained Rolovich a year ago had it not been for the still-fresh scars of the internecine battles that came while he was the offensive coordinator at Southern California. Back then, Chow had two ambitious, up-and-coming young coaches, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, learning at his elbows and plenty of intrigue swirling from the front office of head coach Pete Carroll.
So the choice of Lee, a valued boyhood friend, former head coach and no threat for the job, was an easy, comfortable one for Chow.
Rolovich, for all his aspirations and diesel drive, can be a valued right-hand man and a loyal partner. And, if there is anything the 2012 season at Nevada has taught him as offensive coordinator, beside the elements of the pistol offense, it is patience. You don't survive a year with the accomplished but mercurial Nevada legend Chris Ault without learning industrial-strength patience, acquiring a tough skin and absorbing heavy doses of humility.
In that, the year away from UH -- call it a sabbatical of sorts -- has been good for Rolovich. It has opened his mind, broadened his portfolio and provided new experiences to draw upon. All of which would be to UH's benefit while denying them to Nevada.
But if Rolovich has learned how to relate to petulant old coaches, he has always had an ability to communicate with and inspire the players around him. There is an unmistakable respect and affection there that has been earned. So much so, that it was revealing to see the number of UH players, receivers and non-quarterbacks especially, who came around to see Rolovich on the field before and after the September game and the fondness with which he was regarded.
One of these days Rolovich will find his way back to UH. It is to UH's benefit to have it be sooner rather than later.
Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820.
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