After the Colorado win they said: "Maybe this is the year!"
After the Ohio State loss they said: "That's the No. 1 team in the country. At least we held them to 17-0 in the 4th Quarter at their place. Good job, Defense!"
After the UC-Davis win they said: "Took a while to get the offense going, but hey, at least we got the win!"
After the Wisconsin loss they said: "Well, that's a tough one flying all the way to Madison to play a big ranked team, and we kept it close for most of the game. But how come still no points? Where is the offense?"
After the Boise State loss they said: "OK now what's going on? Yeah, the boys haven't had a bye and have been on the road a lot, but where is the offense? No points again? Wasn't this new offensive coordinator supposed to be up-tempo and score-happy? What happened to the 'D' we saw in the previous games?"
Before the San Diego State game, they said: "This is one we should get. This is a Mountain West team, and we're at home."
At halftime of the San Diego State game, they booed.
During the fourth quarter of the San Diego State game, they walked out.
After the San Diego State game, they ranted on the radio.
They are the few. They are the die-hards, and these are very hard times.
They are typically the most forgiving, but don't test their patience. There already aren't many of them left.
I recently watched -- for the second, third or maybe tenth time -- this nostalgia-inducing gem on YouTube; it was the Rainbows' first win over a Big Ten team -- coincidentally, Wisconsin -- in 1986, in an extremely raucous Aloha Stadium. This was a little over decade after the team moved to Halawa as a new NCAA Division I member, and a few years after the team achieved its first national ranking under Dick Tomey. Defensive End Al Noga would be the first Hawai'i player to be named All American that year as well, ushering in a renaissance for UH football.
After its Holiday Bowl victory in 1992, when home attendance peaked at over 44,000 a game, UH football began hemorrhaging loyal fans as Bob Wagner's sagging tenure swirled deep into the doldrums of the Fred von Appen era, which looks strikingly similar to the current situation. Changing stadium policies and ticket price increases also contributed, but the Rainbow Warrior fanbase is a fickle bunch that grows only with victories. Many of those season ticket holders from the 80s -- like my aging grandparents -- now enjoy the games from their living rooms.
June Jones resurrected the team in 1999, taking it back to national prominence and a New Year's Day bowl in 2007. Jones' exciting Run-n-Shoot offense brought back the fans -- occasionally selling out the stadium -- but by 2012, after the mediocre term of the program's first million-dollar man Greg McMackin, the first season of Chow Time, attendance dwindled to a smidge over 30K.
And it's only getting worse with each passing game.
So how much more can the university take?
Yes, a bowl game is still technically a possibility, but no, the team doesn't look like its headed in that direction. In fact, the team has regressed. There are no more moral victories to hand out. SDSU was a very winnable opponent playing UH in its most winnable confines. Yet the offense struggled once again to reach the end zone while the Defense looked helpless against the run.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist Dave Reardon believes Norm Chow must win at least one of the next two games -- both are on the road against conference opponents -- or he should be canned. And there are those that believe Reardon is being way too kind. That alone should tell you something about the level of vitriol among the Hawaii faithful toward their head coach.
We already know this much: it is unlikely that an interim head coach can come in right now and win anymore games than Chow could this season, especially if that replacement did not come from within the current staff. Consequently, it would be a surrender of the 2015 campaign.
I also don't believe the coach should be expected to resign mid-season. I couldn't see him doing it, even if I wanted it to happen. UH Athletic Director Dave Matlin and Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman are charged with doing what's best for the department; let's leave that decision to them. I also don't believe that any of us in Chow's position would throw are hands up and walk away.
In the coach's defense, he's done a lot for the program off the field, graduating players and keeping them for the most part out of trouble. That's unfortunately not enough for a Division I football team whose revenue is expected to fund majority of the athletic department.
Norm Chow is a local boy, a product of the island, and every kama'aina wants to see the local boy make good. But this local boy's canoe is sinking fast.
A change right now could be the best option: It tames the fan base and sends the message that the aberration on the field the last 3 ½ seasons will no longer be tolerated. Manoa leadership would also get a big head start in looking for potential hires for 2016.
The coach that once emphatically promised the state that he would "win games and chase championships" has yet to fulfill his end of the deal.
No matter what happens, the biggest losers are the fans. (The ones that are left.)