Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, September 23, 1999

Jones can’t relate
to road losing streak

NOW, I'm not going to get carried away and say that the Hawaii Rainbows will beat Southern Methodist Saturday in Dallas.

After all, there's the road thing. You know, the football 'Bows haven't won a road game, well, since Millard Fillmore was president.

Just testing. Just wanted to see if you knew your vonAppenisms.

For the record, the Rainbows haven't won an away game since Sept. 30, 1995, when they beat Nevada-Las Vegas before it joined the Western Athletic Conference.

Their WAC losing streak is even longer, at 24 games. They last won at Texas-El Paso on Halloween night, 1992.

When you think about it, everything goes back to that 1992 season.

That was the last time the Rainbows enjoyed a winning season, culminating it with a 27-17 victory over Illinois in the Holiday Bowl. It was their only WAC football title, by the way.

Also, 1992 was the last time the football 'Bows were able to win three games in a row.

Under new head coach June Jones, the Rainbows finally ended the nation's longest Division I-A losing streak and are now trying to end two more.

"Streak? What streak?" Jones replied kiddingly when asked about UH's road woes. "I thought you were talking about ours."

You gotta love the guy.

And you can't blame Jones. He had nothing to do with the Rainbows' losing ways prior to this season.

"For me, it's not that big a deal. I haven't been on the road yet," Jones said. "Even when we were losing 18 and 19 in a row, I didn't talk about it to the guys."

HE'S not one to dwell in the past, especially one so unsuccessful as that of the previous coaching regime.

Besides, if you've noticed, a little black cloud is still hanging over Fred vonAppen's head, following him all the way to Washington, where he is a volunteer assistant coach.

The Huskies are 0-2, having lost to ex-WAC schools BYU and Air Force, extending vonAppen's personal losing streak to 20 games.

Actually, vonAppen felt the same way about UH's ineptitude on the road - a carryover from the days of Bob Wagner, whose 'Bows lost the first 11 in that 24-game streak.

Jones' Rainbows, though, have been able to do something about ending their losing ways.

Sure, maybe the two victories were against Eastern Illinois and Boise State. But they were teams the Rainbows needed to beat and did.

It's in contrast to last year, when the Rainbows couldn't beat Arkansas State, a team they had to beat but didn't, or in 1997, when they lost in overtime to Northeast Louisiana, another must-win game that wasn't won.

WELL, what about SMU? The oddsmakers still don't believe the Rainbows, especially when they're on the road.

So the Mustangs are favored by 14 points. And they've had a week off to prepare after losing to Arkansas and Tulane to open the season.

With the WAC's most experienced offensive line, SMU hopes to keep it simple with a run-based offense.

"We're going to run the ball, we're going to pound them," running back Rodnick Phillips told the Dallas Morning News.

Jones admits the Rainbows are in for a big challenge. "We haven't done well against the run," he said.

Not that they've done well defending against the pass, either. But if SMU keeps it simple, it might also make it simpler for the 'Bows to defend.

Now, if only they can get off to a better first-half start.

Me? I'd take the 14 points.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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