An hour before the kickoff of the 2004 football game between Tulsa and Hawaii, the visiting assistant head coach/defensive coordinator emerged from an Aloha Stadium locker room and stared into the painted face of intimidation.
I’m coming out of the tunnel, and this big warrior dude is standing there, Todd Graham said of his first encounter with Vili The Warrior Fehoko, UH’s mascot at the time. I mean, he’s sticking his tongue out at me. I was like, ‘Wow.’
Graham then approached June Jones, who was UH’s head coach, to make sure Fehoko was not on the Rainbow Warriors’ active roster.
He was the best mascot I’ve ever seen, Graham said. I love that guy. He was all into it. My personal opinion, I love the Warrior mascot. I’ve played in a lot of stadiums. I’ve played in a ton. I’ve played all over the country, and been around a lot of pretty amazing atmospheres. I remember that experience. When I walked out, he was intimidating. I liked that.
Fehoko now lives on the mainland. But Graham, who was hired as UH’s head coach in January, said he favors having a mascot for Rainbow Warrior games.
Graham said he also would like to maintain other Warrior traditions, as well as introduce new rituals, such as a Warrior Walk the day before games and creating plaques to recognize the 1992 and 2007 teams.
I don’t believe in coming in and getting rid of traditions, Graham said. I want to make sure we’re very respectful to how we’ve done it and the traditions we’ve had in the past. There are things we can add, like the team walk, which will really state who we are.