Earlier this week, University of Hawaii coach Greg McMackin made a very inappropriate comment about a dance that Notre Dame performed at the Hawaii Bowl a couple of days before the game. The comment was anti-gay and should never be said publicly by a person in his position.
On Thursday, he issued an apology on the local news in Hawaii. Of course it did not sit well with the local gay community. They want more than an apology.
Now I am in no way condoning what McMackin said. It was disgusting. There is no two ways about that. I also realize that many of my fellow Irish fans are rightfully upset over what he said. Having said that I still believe that Coach McMackin is a good guy and a good coach.
About 10 years ago, I moved to Maui from Michigan. Over time I have grown fond of the University of Hawaii football team. I saw no harm in rooting for the Warriors. They are a WAC team and their paths will never cross with Notre Dame or Michigan. At least that is what I thought.
We all know how that turned out. When I heard that Notre Dame was playing at Aloha Stadium, I just had to fly over. I have been to that stadium before and most of the time I have rooted for Hawaii. So some were shocked to see me show up in Blue and Gold.
One guy asked, "You cheered for UH all year, how do you not cheer for them in the biggest game of the year?" My response was "blood is thicker than water." Another Warrior fan said that he would be in the same boat as me if they were playing Oklahoma. I appreciated that.
Although I was rooting for Notre Dame, the Hawaii fans were very gracious to me. It really isn't like other places. They do believe in sportsmanship and want you to feel welcome in their home. I know that it is similar in South Bend, even with USC fans.
That was really a great day for me. I saw the Irish break the infamous long bowl losing streak. I also just left with a very good taste about the Hawaii program and those who support it. I honestly expected to be treated much worse than I was in Irish colors.
A couple months later, the UH team flew over to Maui for a spring practice and scrimmage. The stadium was just packed to watch this. Coach McMackin made it a point to go up in the stands and thank everybody for being there.
He literally went to every person in the stands and introduced himself and thanked everybody for supporting the team. He also spent time with each person talking to him/her. I thought that was really cool.
After the scrimmage, many of the players did the same thing and were very appreciative of the fans. That is a reflection of the coach.
In general, McMackin has really been a class act in how he has run the program.
So, although he made a stupid comment in which he got caught in the moment, we all have done that at some point in our life.
The fact is that he has done enough right to where I will forgive this one wrong.