When Dave Aranda looks across the field from the Badgers’ sideline Saturday night, it will feel like he’s gone back in time.
Aranda, now defensive coordinator for the University of Wisconsin football team, served in that same capacity at the University of Hawaii from 2010-11 and as its defense line coach from 2008-09.
“It’s weird,” Aranda said. “It brings back memories.”
Four seasons after his departure, Aranda finds himself taking on a few players he once helped recruit. Among those are offensive lineman Ben Clarke and linebacker Lance Williams, who are both starters now for the Rainbow Warriors.
The memories consist of the welcoming nature of Hawaiians, Aranda said. He also said he’s followed the team closely in the years since he left.
“I miss the family atmosphere there. I miss the people,” Aranda said. “We do our best to look up on the website to see who’s practicing.”
Aranda said he started feeling nostalgic during filming sessions in the beginning of the week, and there was even more of that for defensive backs coach Daronte’ Jones.
Jones left Hawaii, where he served as its defensive backs coach for three seasons, just eight months ago.
“I think all that emotions and stuff took place earlier this week,” Jones said. “You have to take a step back and say ‘Wow, I was just there.’ You know their guys. You have a relationship with their staff there.”
Jones added that once gameday comes, it will be business as usual.
As far as Jones’ familiarity with Hawaii’s personnel, he said since players have improved so much in the time he’s left, his knowledge offers little advantage.
But like Aranda, there are certain things about coaching in Hawaii that he misses.
“The ‘ohana spirit,’ naturally,” Jones said.