No Mainland Bowl For Warriors

Bobby Curran
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Friday - October 27, 2006
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OK, now you can start talking about the Hawaii Warriors running the table for the 2006 season.

Last week’s convincing 49-30 victory at New Mexico State means UH has only one remaining road show - at Utah State on Nov. 4. Those Aggies should provide grist for the mill as Hawaii has trounced better teams in its last two travel dates.

While there is no guarantee the Warriors will win out, they will be the favorite in each of their remaining games.

An increasingly popular topic on my morning sports talk radio show is Hawaii’s bowl situation. A number of callers are clamoring for UH to play in a Mainland bowl game.

Repeat after me: “I love the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. I love the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.”

You may as well learn to love it, because it’s the only bowl possible for the Warriors. If Hawaii is bowl eligible, they will always play in this bowl. Here’s why: They do not “travel well.”

When Hawaii shared the conference title in 1992 and were invited to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, only about 1,200 fans followed them to Southern California.

Those are not the kinds of numbers attractive to bowl selection committees. Bowls are for-profit enterprises working closely with their communities not only to sell tickets, but also to fill area hotels, bars, restaurants and shops. When the bowl folks talk about teams that travel well, they aren’t talking about flying first class, they’re talking about coming in numbers and spending big dollars.

Bowl people love to tell this story about BYU:

When the Cougars were about to be invited to a high-profile bowl, some committee members were up in arms. One wag noted, “BYU fans show up with a copy of the Ten Commandments and a hundred dollar bill and don’t break either one.”

While that may be slightly unfair to our friends from Provo, you get the point. The bowls don’t care a whit about how deserving a team may be.

They’re interested in how well the fans fill the coffers.

Secondly, the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl cannot survive without the Warriors. Sure, it can withstand the small crowds when Hawaii is not bowl eligible as long as it doesn’t become a habit, but the idea that an excellent Hawaii team would go elsewhere (unless it was to a BCS game) would be a slap in the face to the people making it possible for UH to play in bowl games.

And while the Western Athletic Conference has agreements with the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque and the MPC Computer Bowl in Boise, it would never send UH to one of those while the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl is in existence.

And third, the bowl game in Hawaii, always held on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, draws a huge television audience - which gives the Warriors the national exposure they need come recruiting time.

It’s time to stop whining about the Mainland bowls and embrace the one we have. Tell me you wouldn’t enjoy watching Hawaii with its top-rated offense knock the stuffing out of UCLA or Washington on Christmas Eve. That’s a pretty good Christmas present.

This Saturday marks homecoming for UH fans. The Idaho Vandals are greatly improved, but still rate as a considerable underdog to the Warriors.

And the head coaches have some history between them.

Like June Jones, Idaho head coach Dennis Erickson coached two teams in the NFL.

They also squared off when Erickson was at Oregon State and the Beavers played Hawaii in a precursor to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in 1999. Hawaii won, 23-17.

If you are faculty, staff or a member of the University of Hawaii Alumni Association, you can buy two-for-one tickets (maximum of eight) for the UH-Idaho homecoming game on Saturday.

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