Tracking Warriors From The Booth
Wednesday - October 25, 2006
As if Jim Donovan isn’t busy enough already, now he’s got a new job. The 47-year-old executive director of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is now part of the Hawaii Warriors K5-television broadcasting crew.
“I got the call the Thursday before the UNLV game and I’ve been on (ever since),” Donovan says. “It’s funny, you watch games all your life and you say ‘Yeah, I can do that.‘I didn’t realize how hard it was.”
But Donovan, a former UH lineman from the Dick Tomey era and a longtime former associate athletic director at UH, has proven to be a broadcast natural in the role of expert commentator.
“It’s such an honor to work with Jim Leahey. He was calling the games when I was playing,” Donovan says. “The first thing I had to learn was when to chirp in. When you have three in the booth (KHNL/K5 Sports Director Russell Yamanoha is the third member of the crew), it’s hard to know when to talk. But we’ve worked on the chemistry and I think it’s going good. I’m just trying to come up with the more technical information because of my background as a player.”
Donovan says he had no idea how much preparation was involved for each broadcaster.
“I tell everyone it’s like flying a helicopter,” he says. “You spend one hour on the flight, but it takes at least 12 hours behind the scenes to get prepared.”
In the case of the recent Fresno State game (a 68-37 Hawaii victory), those 12 hours turned into many more. As a result of the earthquake and power outage, Donovan and the rest of the broadcast crew were stranded in California until the Tuesday after the game because of so many cancelled flights.
But he was extremely upbeat when we spoke because he has another big reason to be keeping an ever-watchful eye on the Warriors. He and most UH fans are hoping that the team is back in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl after missing out a year ago.
“I don’t want to jinx the Warriors, but they’ve really been playing well,” he says.
“The offense is really clicking and Colt Brennan is one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen here. And Jerry Glanville’s defense is really hitting hard. It reminds me of the kind of hitting we saw back in the Tomey days.”
At least seven victories will ensure Hawaii’s participation in the bowl game, just like after the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons. (Hawaii lost to Tulane 36-28 in 2002, beat Houston in triple overtime 54-48 in 2003 and downed UAB 59-40 in 2004. Last year, in 2005, Nevada edged Central Florida 49-48 in overtime.)
After a four-year contract between ESPN, the Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl has now entered into a two-year agreement between the WAC and the powerful Pac-10.
“We get the sixth pick from the Pac-10 (this year),” he says. “Right now, I’d say UCLA, Washington, Washington State and Arizona State are all in the mix. That’s assuming USC, Cal and Oregon finish in the top three (in the final conference standings).”
With the strong reputation of the Pac-10 and Hawaii’s closeness to the West Coast, it’s not hard to imagine a great increase in attendance for this year’s Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. The game is scheduled for Aloha Stadium on Christmas Eve at 3 p.m.
“We’re the second highest-rated TV sports event in Hawaii after the Pro Bowl (and) average about 32,000 when UH plays in the game,” Donovan says. “The respect for the Pac-10 is really important for us. We had a great relationship with Conference USA and we’re excited the Pac-10 wanted to get involved.”
Donovan says a comment from Houston head coach Art Briles is one of the biggest reasons teams are excited to play here.
“He was pointing at the sunset (at one of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl’s premier on-the-beach events) and he said ‘If you’re not playing in a BCS game, why would you want to play anywhere else’?”
For Jim Donovan, who keeps his eyes on the Warriors from the broadcast booth to the executive chambers of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, he knows the one and only answer is Hawaii.
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