Full-Court Press

By Paul Arnett

Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Don’t count Vegas
Bowl out just yet

VIVAAAAA Las Vegas, yeah. Vivaaaaa Las Vegas. Ooops. Sorry about that. We newspaper types get carried away from time to time.

Not that we have anything against those fine folks over there at Bowl Games Hawaii. But the local media is going to spend Christmas Day with Lenny and Marcia Klompus regardless which team is in the house.

There were those of us thinking about calling the good people running the Las Vegas Bowl to remind them that their fair city is like a home away from home for those of us in the island chain.

Sure, most of the Hawaii players fresh off securing the most unlikely of postseason appearances with a double- overtime victory over Fresno State last Saturday night would rather be home for the holidays.

UH head coach June Jones already has said he would prefer to play here. And you can't blame Rainbow administrators, local bowl officials and those running the Western Athletic Conference for wanting this match made in heaven.

But for those of us who got married at the Little Chapel of the West on the Las Vegas strip, an unplanned trip to Nevada just before Christmas doesn't sound like a bad alternative.

OK, OK. So the Las Vegas Bowl doesn't have the same prestige as the Christmas Day doubleheader and the WAC would drop from having three floats in the postseason parade to two.

But if Fresno State should stumble and fall over rival San Jose State this weekend - leaving Las Vegas little choice but to take a Hawaii team that's one win away from making the greatest about-face since the Miracle Mets - would it really be that bad?

Apparently, the Boyd Group doesn't think so. You know old Sam and the gang - who as luck would have it just happens to be on the Las Vegas Bowl selection committee - would love to open up their hotel chain to Hawaii fans looking to try their luck at the tables.

Anyone who has lived in Las Vegas can tell you that, in mid-December, the hotels are about as busy as Stephen King's Overlook in his book "The Shining." Out-of-towners just don't come.

Granted, Fresno State will bring a bevy of fans to Las Vegas, but how many of those will arrive the night before and leave the morning after? Way too many.

Hawaii fans, on the other hand, will make a 10-day stay of it. They'll meet all of their relatives who have moved east over the years and go out on the town every night of the week.

Fun would be had by all. And the local papers and television stations can go to the mainland to cover every moment of it.

BUT before you start making any sudden plans, it's best you wait until after this weekend. For one thing, the Bulldogs aren't likely to lose to the Spartans. They have been known to gag on a bone, but it's not likely.

For another, Hawaii possibly playing Arizona in the Oahu Bowl is a story line that's tough to give up. Dick Tomey. Bob Wagner. June Jones. The only coach missing from the scene is Fred vonAppen. And the way things have been going in the Pac-10 lately, having Washington in the Aloha Bowl isn't beyond the realm of possibility.

But just in case Sam Boyd calls in his markers, some of us are looking in the top of our closets for our winter clothes and lucky charms. It's not a good bet that we'll need them, but it's not as long a shot as Hawaii was last summer to share in a WAC championship.

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.

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