The upheaval within Hawaii’s football program under coach Todd Graham continued on Thursday when Graham’s own son, defensive back Michael Graham, became the 14th Rainbow Warriors player to enter the transfer portal since the season ended. Michael Graham’s entry into the portal came just two days after Todd Graham and Hawaii athletic director David Matlin issued public statements in response to the mass exodus from Hawaii’s roster.
The elder Graham came under scrutiny in early December following a report from SFGate that outlined cultural issues within the program stemming from the coach’s alleged mistreatment of players. The 57-year-old was formerly the head coach at Arizona State, Pittsburgh, Tulsa and Rice.
One anonymous Hawai’i player told SFGate that, “I would go as far to say it’s verbal abuse the way he talks to guys.”
“As a staff, we realized that the transfer portal would bring challenges to our team,” Graham said in his Wednesday statement. “The portal has been a challenge to many teams this season. We are disappointed to lose any member of our Warrior family to the transfer portal. We appreciate the contributions they have made to the team and wish them the very best in their future. We are grateful for all of our players and thank them for their contributions to our program. Moving forward, we are continuing to listen, learn, and improve daily. We are focused on developing the players on our 2022 squad and growing closer as a team. We are supplementing our roster through recruiting and the addition of players through the portal. We want our fans, supporters, and the University of Hawai’i family to know that we are working tirelessly to build a championship team that they can be proud of.”
Hawaii finished the with a 6-7 record in Graham’s second season at the helm. The Rainbow Warriors were scheduled to play in the Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24 against Memphis but ultimately could not due to COVID-19 issues within the program. Among those who have also entered the transfer portal from Hawai’i are starting quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and leading rusher Dae Dae Hunter.
“Unfortunately the transfer portal has become a reality of college football and we’re no strangers to it,” Matlin, the Hawai’i athletic director, said in a statement. “The amount of transfers is disappointing however not unusual compared to many other schools around the country, and even within our own conference. We can’t ignore that there are areas we need to improve on. Coach Graham and I are in constant contact and are always looking for ways to make the program better. To all of our supports and future, current, and past Rainbow Warriors, keep the faith because we’re working tirelessly to maintain a program that you can be proud of. To our transfers, we wish you the very best. You will always be part of the Hawai’i football family.”