We Are Marshall

Wednesday - December 27, 2006

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Rich Miano

We Are Marshall
Rich Miano
Assistant Football Coach for UH Warriors
As Told To Melissa Moniz

Where and with whom did you see the movie?

I saw the movie with my fiancee Lori and my son Kupaa.

Overall what did you think of the movie?

Overall I thought it was a really good movie. So good that I told Coach (June)  Jones that we should bring the whole (UH) team to to watch it.

We Are Marshall

What scene stood out for you?

I think what stood out was the scene where they were meeting to ban the football program and sort of put it on hold, and how much it meant to the young men to continue to play for the community and the university. It was powerful to come back and play that following season.

The movie was based on a true story. With that said, however, did you think the storyline seemed realistic or dramatized?

You know, it did seem realistic. Like a lot of times I’ve seen the Vince Papale story, and I’ve probably seen every football movie there ever was, and sometimes Hollywood does a poor job of imitating true life. Matthew McConaughey is a good actor, but I thought his character is a little bit off, but I don’t know how that coach was. So I don’t know if it was true to his personality. But there were a lot of things that were really well done, like trying to get the NCAA to pass things to help the program and how hard it was to get their approval. I thought it was well done and that it mimicked real life.

In the movie there were a lot of people grieving who lost loved ones in the plane crash. Which character did you sympathize with the most?

Obviously McConaughey is the most well-known actor of the group, but I think I could sympathize most with the one young football player who didn’t go on the trip because he overslept. I mean, for him to live and the rest of the coaching staff and players to die, that really hit home to him.

I know you’re a guy and will probably never admit to crying, but did the movie tug on your heart strings?

No question. I mean, you know the history of it and you know that the plane is going to crash, but when it did crash and the reaction of the town and the players, even though it was Hollywood, I still felt incredibly sad. It did happen and it could happen again, and just to see something that tragic ... Of course, anytime a plane crashes it’s a tragedy, but to see a whole sports team go down from a community and a university, it was really touching. And I don’t care how tough or machismo you think you are,if it doesn’t bring tears to your eyes, it’s definitely something that saddens you.

Having seen the Marshall football team’s dynamics in the movie, how do you think our UH team compares?

I think whether it’s in the ‘70s or the 21st century there’s a lot of similarities. Football players are football players and coaches are coaches. What that team meant to that community and what the University of Hawaii means to Hawaii is very,very similar.There’s a lot of parallels. I mean, that’s the most tragic team accident, I think, in the history of sports. For a whole football team, with coaches, staff, boosters and players, to go down and that many people to die, I think it was harder to rebuild a team from scratch than any other team.

In comparison to other sports movies and football movies you’ve seen, how do you think this movie rates?

I think it’s a must-see for anyone who is involved in team sports. I think it was well done.

The character Red, played by Matthew Fox, who just so happened didn’t get on the plane, was the assistant coach of the team that died in the crash. As an assistant coach, could you directly relate to him?

You know, I thought that when he explained why he didn’t want to coach for the following season because he went into 15 to 25 family homes and convinced those parents that this is a great place to play and how important it was for their son to play for Marshall University,and he felt that he let all those people down.Football players,you know, I tell my guys, are like my children. I give them my card and tell them you can talk to me about anything, whether it’s personal, school, whatever. So he almost felt like a dad to these young people. So when that plane went down he not only felt so sorry for these players, but the families that he sat in their living rooms, and he didn’t want to be part of that anymore. You know I feel that, yeah, I’m an assistant coach and I go into people’s homes and I tell them how great of an experience University of Hawaii football would be, so I could definitely relate.

If you had to pick something, what did you not like about the film?

You know, not knowing the head coach that Matthew McConaughey played and what kind of head coach he was like, he was an interesting character, to say the least. I know I’ve had a lot of different coaches in my life, but nothing like that.You know, he did have humor and some kind of spark, and he was different, which kind of added a lit bit of character to the movie.

The movie stresses that in college football winning is everything. Is that also UH’s philosophy, and what’s your opinion on that?

That was another wonderful point of the movie because at the level we’re at, winning is everything. If we don’t win we get fired; if we don’t win the school loses millions of dollars. So the pressure as an NCAA coach or football program is to win and there’s no substitute. Losing is not acceptable and that’s kind of like the National Football League. So the fact that really that following year what happened to them was winning wasn’t everything and it was more playing the game and trying as hard as you could because they were far behind in terms of talent.There should have been all kinds of things that the NCAA should have done for that program to make it a level playing field, but it wasn’t a level playing field.

For them to have two wins and to win the game like they did was like winning a Super Bowl, and they celebrated like they won a Super Bowl. And although they were 2-9, it was like being the NCAA champ and they just had so much to be proud of. And you look at that school as history went on, Byron Leftwich came from there, Randy Moss came from there,Chad Pennington came from there, so they built that school into a powerhouse. So that was the foundation. Pride came back in a big way to that school, not only that year but decades later.

In a four star rating, with four being the highest, what would you rate it?

I would rate it three stars.

What’s your favorite movie snack? Popcorn, mochi crunch and peanut M&M’s all mixed together.

What’s your favorite sports movie of all time?

I would have to go with Slap Shot. It was a comedy hockey movie and it was hilarious.

What’s your favorite movie genre?

I would say suspense, action kind of movies.

Who’s your favorite actor or actress?

I would say Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Tom Hanks.

What’s new?

Hawaii Speed and Quickness clinics are about to start up now, and we’re in 16 schools throughout the state of Hawaii and we have 53 employees. It’s an after-school drug-prevention program. We have intermediate and high school programs throughout Kauai, Oahu and Maui. It’s like an A+ program, and it’s something I am very proud of because it’s for the young people of Hawaii.

And with football this could very well be the best season ever for the University of Hawaii, and so I’m proud to be a part of this team and these young people and this coaching staff.

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