HONOLULU (AP) Hawaii interim coach Chris Naeole is switching starting quarterbacks and has named new captains in an effort to revitalize the Rainbow Warriors.
Naeole met with the media Wednesday for the first time since taking over following Norm Chow’s firing on Sunday. Chow’s dismissal came a day after the Rainbow Warriors (2-7, 0-5 Mountain West) lost 58-7 to Air Force.
The new coach is going with quarterback Ikaika Woolsey as the starter for Saturday’s game against UNLV over Max Wittek.
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”There’s live bullets out there and I’m trying to win a game,” Naeole said of the decision to change quarterbacks. ”Right now I think Ikaika gives us the best chance.”
Naeole also named new captains. ”I felt like they brought a little more credibility to the team,” he said.
The former line coach now has the responsibility of acting as a head coach, but said the players respect the decision and are doing what he asks.
”I think the guys know what I bring,” Naeole said. ”I’m not here by myself.”
Naeole said he hasn’t considered whether he’ll be a candidate for the permanent coaching job, adding his focus is attempting to win the remaining games this season.
Hawaii athletic director David Matlin said the team is resilient and he hopes the change will help their success.
”It is a sad day,” Matlin said of the firing. ”There’s nothing joyous about making a decision like that.”
But going forward, he said the changes Naeole makes are his own choices.
”Chris has been with the program longer than any of our coaches right now, so I think he has a real good feel for the players, the team and the community as well,” Matlin said.
Former Hawaii coach June Jones, the winningest coach in the school’s history, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he intends to apply for the job.
Matlin said he wouldn’t comment on Jones or any other possible candidates.
Wide receiver Dylan Collie said he was surprised by the decision to change captains, but not in the choice of those eight players. ”Those are eight guys that have busted their butt all season long and played extremely good football,” he said. ”Why not look to those guys?”