HONOLULU – The state of Hawai’i announced plans Wednesday to lay off 2,000 running backs over the next four years as part of a larger push to increase third down efficiency and reduce roster waste. Officials also discussed the state’s new wide receiver plant which is scheduled to open in China’s Zhejiang province in the first quarter of 2010.
Hawai’i receivers were named the 2006 Passing Trend Best Sport Utility Model.
“This is a time of transition, and some tough decisions had to be made,” University of Hawai’i head coach June Jones said of the lay offs. Jones is the acting deputy of the state’s controversial “revitalization” program, designed in large part to boost the Aloha State’s competitive edge in an industry marked by rapid technological and organizational changes over the past several decades.
“The Japanese and the [Texas Tech] Red Raiders have been among the industry leaders for some time now. To move forward in any way we had to acknowledge this reality. Today we move forward. The state of Hawai’i will not rest until we are the undisputed passing game leaders,” said Jones.
Jones stressed that the new direction of the state’s air industry would be seen on all levels, from the conversion of Hawai’i's high school tailbacks into linebackers, safeties or tight ends, to the mandatory arm amputations of the University of Hawai’i's current running back squad, to the newly proposed “only fades, posts and post-corners allowed” rule the state plans to push through for the 2007 NFL Pro Bowl, traditionally played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
“We’re holding nothing back,” Jones declared in front of the media and a gathering of some 350 shareholders.
Hawai’i's move is unsurprising given that UH quarterback and CFO Colt Brennan amassed 5,549 yards, a 186.0 passing efficiency rating and 58 touchdowns in 2006. All three were good for the NCAA lead, and the last is an NCAA record.
Warren Penkala of the highly influential industry magazine Air Watch was skeptical of Hawai’i's long term chances for success with its new philosophy, though, noting that “the short term liquidation of capital resources looks good on paper, but projected over time it means that gains will become smaller and smaller.”
“Their stock will definitely soar as more and more wide receivers buy into the system, but it’ll become overvalued quickly. In two, maybe three seasons they’ll collapse. No offense can support itself without people on the ground. It’s the classic ‘air bubble’. We saw it with [the] Houston [Cougars] in the late eighties, early nineties. They’re only now getting back in the game, and their deployment infrastructure is still completely unbalanced. Not to mention the fact that investors are still highly dubious after [1989 Heisman Trophy winner Andre] Ware’s fraud scandal. It’s a risky business, but they’re making it riskier,” said Penkala.
Resource balance proponent and quarterback guru Norm Chow agrees. Chow coached three Heisman Trophy winners and two Heisman runner-ups, and served as President Reagan’s Secretary of Air from 1986-88.
“You look at [Hawai'i's] portfolio and you have to wonder if this move was necessary,” said Chow.
“The Japanese specialize in small, investment friendly second down gains. Their market hold revolves around incremental yardage purchase and the ability to push their brand name in lower tier environments like the Philippines or Conference USA. You look at Texas Tech and you immediately recognize that their success is predicated on their cornering of a market which has no idea how to fight back against their overwhelming numbers and their emphasis on delivery synergy. Hawai’i risks losing field position by getting away from one of its strengths: huge Polynesians who run block like the cure for cancer’s located in a defensive tackle’s collarbone.”
“Those guys are huge,” Chow added.
Jones was quick to counter questions about the new strategy by pointing out that any dips in the ground-based department would be more than offset by increased production allowed by Hawai’i's new wide receiver plant in China, though that did not stop skeptics from questioning Hawai’i's move to offshore flanker production.
Penkala called the new plant a “mistake” and warned that it would disrupt one of Hawai’i's key advantages: America’s love of domestically produced aerial displays.
“Americans are extremely patriotic. They don’t want to see Chinese receivers catching 15-yard hitches. They want to see Chinese-American receivers catching 15-yard hitches. Because they’re American. And also Chinese, which you don’t see too much. Now a Chinese stat keeper plant, that would be something. Those chinks can track numbers like nobody’s business,” said Penkala.
Chow agreed that the future of the industry revolved around hybrid wide receiver-stat keepers capable of calculating their own yards after catch while coming down with the ball, but cautioned that Penkala “is just a dumb hick.”
“God damned white people. It’d be just like them to point out how the Chinese would be no good as wide outs, those possession receiving crackers. The irony just kills me,” said Chow.
The University of Hawai’i Warriors play their spring football game on April 14.