It was past my deadline when one of my favorite coaches in UH football history called back.
Bob Wagner, athletic director at Kamehameha-Hawaii, confirmed what I’d heard recently: he’s ready to retire at the end of this academic year. It’s been a decade since he accepted the job and moved to the Big Island. Officially, Coach Wagner will walk away on Aug. 1, ready to relax and do some traveling with his wife.
Isn’t that the dream for most people who turn 65?
“I feel like I need a break. A sabbatical,” said Wagner, who has been the only AD the school in Keaau, Hawaii, has known.
He’s had breaks before. When UH let him go in the 1990s, he and his wife enjoyed the free time.
“I’ve been through two coaching cycles. It was good. As long as I can travel, it’s good. When we had time off at UH, we made good use of it,” he said.
Wagner is looking at his map of the continent and making plans.
“I’ve looked at the Navy and Georgia Tech schedules. I don’t know if I can do it, but I’d like to see them play,” noting the coaching friends at those destinations.
Kenny Niumatalolo, who played quarterback under Wagner, is head coach at Navy. Paul Johnson, Wagner’s offensive coordinator, is with the Yellow Jackets.
Wagner mentioned that his family’s home in East Hawaii is in escrow. Wherever they go in the short term, he has a longer-term home in mind.
“We’d like to build a home in Waimea,” he said. “Hawaii is home.”
With a daughter in London and more family on the West Coast, free time offers flexibility.
“It’s a good problem to have,” said the man who knows quite a bit about options, pun intended.
A return to coaching is something on the periphery.
“It’s not out of the question. I don’t need to be a head coach or coordinator. I’ve always worked with people I like and know,” he said.
As for the KS-Hawaii post, Wagner has his preference: Kimo Weaver, the former Ka‘u AD who has been on staff at KS-Hawaii for several years now.
“He knows the BIIF, and he knows the DOE. He’d be an excellent choice,” Wagner said.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser