Thursday, September 30, 2004

Owens’ feats never
made it to the NCAA
record books

The UH slotback's mark for kickoff
-return yardage, set three years ago,
was eclipsed last weekend

Is a record a record if it never makes it into the record book?

For Hawaii football player Chad Owens, the answer is another question: "Who cares?" He remembers he broke the NCAA Division I-A marks for kickoff-return and combined kickoff- and punt-return yardage on Dec. 9, 2001, against Brigham Young. So do the 50,000 who watched it at Aloha Stadium, and maybe even some of the people around the country who saw it on ESPN.

UH vs. Tulsa

Where: Aloha Stadium

When: Saturday, 6:05 p.m.

Tickets: $12 to $26, $3 for UH students

TV: Live, pay-per-view, call 625-8100 or (808) 643-2337 on neighbor islands. Delayed, 10 p.m. on KFVE Ch. 5, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM.

Internet: kkea1420am.com

But there aren't many other ways for the rest of the college football world to know, since the information has never made it into the telephone-book-thick tome entitled "Official NCAA Football Records."

And it's too late for one of Owens' records. It's been broken.

Last Saturday, Clemson's Justin Miller returned kickoffs for 282 yards in the Tigers' 41-22 loss to Florida State, eclipsing the 249 yards Owens got in UH's 72-45 win over the Cougars at Aloha Stadium.

But newspapers reported that Miller broke a record of 248 yards by Tyrone Watley from Iowa State, set Nov. 15, 1997, against Nebraska.

The source was the NCAA, and Owens' mark had never made it into the official record book. Neither did his 342 yards in one game for kickoffs and punts; the 284 yards by Minnesota's Tutu Atwell against Iowa State on Sept. 13, 1997, remains the standard, according to the NCAA.

Owens shrugged when told the records from his freshman year were in invisible ink.

"It doesn't really matter to me. Records are a good thing, but that was three years ago. There are other things I'm working on and thinking about now," Owens said after yesterday's practice. "On any given day someone can feel it, can break it.

"I'm happy for (Miller). But did they win? No. But it was a good day for him. College football is all about being a playmaker."

Jim Wright, the NCAA director of statistics, said sports information directors from the teams setting single-game records are responsible for reporting them.

"We don't have a form. We tell the SIDs to send us a note," Wright said in a telephone interview yesterday. "There's no paper trail. At the end of the season, we update the season records ourselves, because we have the statistics. But we rely on the SIDs for any single-game records. I can't conclude our own staff just missed it, but it's possible."

UH media relations director Lois Manin said she is "pretty sure" she or a member of her staff reported the records to the NCAA. The records are noted in Owens' biography in the 2004 UH football media guide.

"Even if we somehow missed it the first year, we would have corrected it," Wright said. "If it happened in 2001 it should've been in the 2002, 2003 and 2004 editions."

Owens is in the book with eight other players who hold the mark for most touchdowns scored on kick returns in a game. Miller, who scored on two kickoff returns Saturday, will join them.

Owens was named a freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America after the 2001 season. Now a senior team captain and starter at slotback, Owens is one of the most statistically productive receivers in the nation.

He leads NCAA Division I-A in receptions per game with 11.5, and is more concerned with that than records from three years ago.

"If at the end of the year I'm leading in some category, it's a credit to the guys I'm playing with," Owens said.

Like his teammates, he wants to get on the right track Saturday after opening this season with losses to Florida Atlantic and at Rice.

"0-2 is done. Those games are done and now it's time to focus in on Tulsa," Owens said. "One snap and clear. On to the next play, the next game."



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