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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, February 24, 2000

Greener pastures
for ’Bows

AS old "Blue Eyes" would say, "Ring a ding ding." The University of Hawaii a "bell cow?" Lani Moo?

It would take a Texan or two to use that expression, referring to a herd's lead cow.

Our own Paul Arnett, a transplanted Texan, quoted Grant Teaff, the former Baylor football coach and now executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, as saying that the WAC needs a bell cow.

Teaff was talking about the Western Athletic Conference needing a marquee team to attract national attention now that Brigham Young and Air Force left the scene.

BYU and Air Force now draw national attention to the Mountain West Conference, leaving the WAC herd to fend for itself.

Jeff Hurd, WAC associate commissioner, told the Star-Bulletin that maybe Hawaii could be that bell cow because of its ability to schedule the biggies in Division I football.

No question, Hawaii is the most marketable of the WAC cities.

I mean, would you rather go to Honolulu or Tulsa? Or just ask the NFL if it would consider moving the Pro Bowl to San Jose? Spartan Stadium has a grass field, after all.

It's no wonder that the Rainbows don't have a problem lining up football's big-name schools to come here:

Notre Dame, Michigan in years past, Texas and Wisconsin this fall, Arizona and Purdue in 2002, and Virginia in 2003.

OK, so 2001's nonconference schedule doesn't quite fill that marquee lineup -- Iowa State, Montana, Miami (no, not of Florida) and Air Force.

It might not be exactly murderers' row , but coach June Jones will be the first to tell you that nobody can be taken for granted in football.

Hawaii always has had the potential of being a national player in football, considering it's the No. 1 spectator sport in the islands and the one sport with the biggest pool of local talent.

Perhaps now with Jones, Rainbow football can reach the next level.

Certainly, he has accomplished so much in his first year, a turnaround really beyond everyone's wildest expectations.

Here's hoping that Jones can build on it so that 1999 wasn't a one-season wonder. He's off to a good start with a strong recruiting class which could come close to being the best in UH history.

Until the 2000 crop proves itself over the next few years, nothing so far can match the 1988 freshman class.

What a recruiting class that was: Jason Elam, Maa Tanuvasa, Travis Sims, Jeff Sydner, Jamal Farmer and Darrick Branch.

THEY were joined the following year by Michael Carter, Ivin Jasper, Brian Gordon and Taase Faumui.

Also a recruit from Molokai, who transferred to Boise State and is now playing with the Cincinnati Bengals, Kimo von Oelhoffen.

The majority of them were fifth-year seniors when the Rainbows (11-2) won the WAC and beat Illinois in the 1992 Holiday Bowl.

It's UH's best showing since last year's remarkable 9-4 season culminated with the 23-17 victory over Oregon State.

Unlike 1993, when the Rainbows couldn't build on the previous year's success, it's hoped it won't be the same in 2000.

It's one thing to schedule Texas and have that game attractive enough for national television. It's another thing if Hawaii doesn't step up its football program and get embarrassed on national TV.

A bell cow's got to keep up.

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

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