Hula Bowl moved
up to Jan. 17
The game's executive director
hopes the new date will help
attract more players
The next Hula Bowl won't be last in line among college football all-star games.
The 2004 affair is scheduled for Jan. 17 at War Memorial Stadium on Maui, a week after the East-West Shrine Game in Palo Alto, Calif., and a week before the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Last year's Hula Bowl was played Feb. 1. It was the last of the three games, making it less attractive to future pros who showed their stuff to scouts in earlier games and saw no reason to risk injury. Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer, and Hawaii's Vince Manuwai and Pisa Tinoisamoa were among those to opt out of the Hula Bowl after playing in earlier games.
"There were a couple of reasons to move the game up," Hula Bowl executive director Dick Schaller said yesterday. "If we preceded the Pro Bowl by a day again, on Feb. 7, it would be a little late. Especially with national signing day that week, the availability of coaches might be a tough challenge. Plus, by that time players are getting ready for the combine."
The Hula Bowl has a cross-promotion agreement with the NFL. That's why it was played a day before the Pro Bowl.
"The NFL certainly understands our reasons for moving the game up," Schaller said. "We hope to continue our relationship and we plan to do some things to celebrate the Pro Bowl's 25th year in Hawaii.
"We're excited about playing on Jan. 17. It will help us with securing players and coaches."
Jim Tressel, of national champion Ohio State, and Ralph Friedgen of Maryland have agreed to be the Hula Bowl head coaches.
Tressel was named the 2002 National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association after he led the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record, including a victory over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl.
Friedgen, who shared 2001 Division I National Coach of the Year honors with Miami's Larry Coker, has led the Terrapins to a combined 21-5 record the past two seasons.
The Hula Bowl has been played in Hawaii since 1947, and was moved from Oahu to Maui starting with the 1998 game.