Dick Tomey put his head in the hands, wondering what he had just done.
The former Arizona Wildcats football coach had just auctioned off the use of his house in Hawaii for a week, with the winning bid going to a quartet of his former players, and, oh, the trouble they could get into.
Well, maybe if they were 20 years younger.
And it could have been worse.
Rob Gronkowski, still in his prime as an NFL party boy, could have won the bid.
As it was, Heath Bray, Ty Parten, Tim Russell and Paul Glonek combined for a $9,000 bid at a UA-star-studded fundraiser in May for former Arizona linebacker Donnie Salum, battling a rare bone tumor at the base of his skull.
Tomey, who continues to lead the charge for awareness and further fundraisers for Salum — check out BearDownDonnie.com for updates — offered a week at his place, any time.
During the live auction, Bray was at the head table, getting feedback from his buddies at the back of the room as Gronkowski — whose family goes back about a couple of decades with Salum — bid $8,000.
“I kept looking at the back of the room, and those guys are fantastic about being very conscientious at what they spend,” Bray said. “And they kept nodding to me.
“It went to $9,000 and I yelled across the room at Rob and said, ‘Quit bidding!’” That was about as far as I could go. He has deeper pockets than us.”
Last month, the old UA teammates from Tomey’s early years in Tucson in the late 1980s, early 1990s, spent that week at their coach’s house, in the Kahala district, right next to Diamond Head. Bray said it is a couple hundred yards to the beach.
“That house is phenomenal,” Bray said.
“And it’s a perfect-style house for what you would think about Coach Tomey. It’s completely laid-back. The main house doesn’t have air conditioning. You just open the windows and let the ocean breezes come through.”
Tomey and his wife, author Nanci Kincaid, were visiting on the mainland during the week.
The respect from his former players is still evident.
“We had the brooms and the cleaning supplies out every day,” Bray said.
“I think we left the house in better shape than we found it — and it was immaculate when we got there. We treated it with a certain amount of dignity and care that we would not have been able to do when we were 21 years old.”
The ex-Cats toured the islands, rode the surf and otherwise just chilled out in what was a win-win for everyone involved.
“We had a blast,” Bray said. “It was just fantastic.”
Salum’s prognosis is still uncertain, and other benefit events are in the works, so check at BearDownDonnie.com. We’ll have more info at TucsonCitizen.com at the appropriate time as well.