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An Honest
Day’s Word


By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, March 17, 1999


Rainbows are wise
to keep options open

THIS and that to chew on over lunch:

I pledge allegiance to the flag,
Of the Western Athletic Conference.
And to the eight teams for which it stands.
One conference,
Oh, my god!
Indivisible ...
Hold it.
That's as far as it'll go.

So, the University of Hawaii is out scouting around, trying to see where its real friends are.

Did the possibility of a further breakup in the WAC just now dawn on the braintrust in Manoa, or do people on the upper campus really think the Texas schools are going to enter an alliance that might include athletic powerhouses such as Nevada and Boise State?

We're talking Texas here, folks. The reason TCU and SMU settled for the WAC in the first place is they had nowhere else to go at the time.

But now that both schools' fortunes have improved dramatically in football and basketball, they're not going to settle for small potatoes.

As they say in Texas, this conference ain't stickin' together, Bubba.

If it does, I'll style Ken Mortimer's hair.

So Mortimer and UH are right to look into marketing itself to other schools in the event the WAC and half the other conferences in the country realign or disappear.

If a team from the Big East -- Syracuse, perhaps -- or the Big 12 -- Missouri? -- bolts for the Big Ten, the dominoes are going to fall.

The Big East could be history if the Atlantic Coast Conference grabs Miami, which has been rumored.

Conference USA is positioned to strengthen itself and the Pac-10 will no doubt want to keep pace with the Big Ten.

All of which means the Rainbows are smart to explore all options. I'm just wondering what took them so long.

Tapa

John Calipari's firing as coach of the New Jersey Nets is particularly interesting.

The Nets are basically set to become partners with the New York Yankees under a still-to-be-approved agreement between the two ownership groups.

Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner proposes giving up equity in his club for operating cash and the chance to have a broadcast partner with which to market his team.

I have to believe the Nets will make a move for a big-name coach after this season plays itself out. The Nets are road kill right now, but they have a good nucleus of young talent. They should be able to attract a coach who can make them winners on the court and in the pocketbook.

Meanwhile, the operators of the Meadowlands arena complex, which includes Giants Stadium and the Continental Airlines Arena, have proposed tearing down the Continental building to make way for a new "sports-themed entertainment, dining and retail" center.

The aim is to keep the Nets and Devils in East Rutherford, along with the Jets, Giants and MetroStars.

The Nets, who can escape their lease as soon as next year, have made rumblings about moving to Newark and the Devils are exploring a project in Hoboken.

Tapa

This weekend's three-game series against Fresno State is critical for the Rainbows if they hope to make the WAC baseball playoffs.

Three heartbreaking losses at San Jose State have left Les Murakami's guys reeling at 2-7 in conference play.

Hawaii had a chance to win all three games, but failed to get key hits in the first and third games and couldn't close the door in a 9-7 loss on Saturday.

The Bulldogs are in worse shape -- 1-5 -- so whichever team loses two or even three games can probably kiss the postseason goodbye.



Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.



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