An Empty Bowl Without Warriors

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - April 27, 2005
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It should come as no surprise that the death of the Silicon Valley Bowl is turning more stomachs in Honolulu than it is in San Jose. Last year’s crowd of 5,494 was proof enough that no one in that corner of the Bay Area cares if it lives, dies or just slinks away.

So if they have no cause for concern, why should we?

Well, if you like seeing UH get an extra home game, it may worry you a bit.

The university is in the last year of its contract with the Hawaii Bowl. The deal guarantees the team a position as long as it qualifies. With the loss of the game in San Jose, Hawaii is in danger of losing that cozy relationship because WAC rules say that only the top two finishers in the conference are ensured of a bowl game. As of now, there are only two games with tie-ins, the Hawaii Bowl and the MPC Computer Bowl. If UH does not contend for the league title, it could very well end up missing out on what is essentially its very own bowl game.

Knowing very well that losing a game means less visibility and fewer dollars for the conference, WAC commissioner Karl Benson has chatted with the San Francisco Bowl and the newly approved Poinsettia Bowl about conference inclusion. It will be some time before we know if anything comes from those meetings, but one thing is clear. Whatever decision is made, however painful it may be, it has to be done for the good of the conference and not for just the benefit of Hawaii.

And that’s going to be a difficult decision to make.

Hawaii is a great site for a bowl game. It looks great on TV and is a wonderful place for fans to visit. One of the long-standing traditions about bowl games is escaping the cold of winter and enjoying a contest in a beautiful setting. It’s what made the Aloha Bowl such an attractive ticket for so long. Good teams and a great location made for big crowds and high ratings. But things have changed. There are now 28 bowl games, and that number may increase. Are there 56 teams that anyone would want to watch?

The product has become so watered down that bowl committees have to scramble for teams because their conferences cannot supply enough eligible squads to meet their commitments. And losing the University of Hawaii will not make things any better.

Let’s be honest. The Hawaii Bowl is doomed without the Warriors. No UH means no bowl game.

So Benson has his work cut out for him. The WAC will probably need to find two more games if Hawaii has any hope of holding onto its bowl game.

That’s going to be tough to do because the WAC is not going to put anyone in the Rose Bowl. So the only hope is hitching up with another game and hope it doesn’t go the way of the Silicon Valley Bowl.

It’s in everyone’s best interest to maintain a bowl game in Halawa and to make sure Hawaii plays in that very game. But that may not be possible much longer.

If no UH means no Hawaii Bowl, then so be it. The conference must ensure that its best teams are represented.

We may not like it, but it’s the right thing to do.

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