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Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Sunday, October 31, 2004


UH missing elevator
to next level

I was on the mainland at the time, so I missed the vonAppen era.

Did it look anything like this?

What else can you say? It was 69-3. On national television. And the Boise paper said that Sports Illustrated was in the house.

So much for forgetting it. So much for one play and clear.

This column was supposed to be an appreciation of Tim Chang, of his doggedness and his heart, of the way he kept coming back, kept conducting himself with class, even in the face of all this ridiculous hype.

(Anyone else surprised that June Jones picked this past week to suddenly stay mum about the record? "Like somebody going for a no-hitter." Wow, maybe after talking about it for the past two or three years -- or four? -- it was kind of late to try that.)

But no, that became impossible, even had he set the record (and thank goodness that moment will come this week at home, instead). It was 69-3.

Yes, it was only one game. One awful nightmare of a one-of-those-games game. And they were injured and on the road. There were mitigating circumstances.

But there are always mitigating circumstances. When vonAppen's team went 0-12 in 1998, you had better believe there were mitigating circumstances.

Hawaii's offense was healthy, or as healthy as anybody expects to be at midseason.

And this team lost to Florida Atlantic in the first game of the year.

This is a program that gave up 58 points at Boise two years ago -- when Hawaii was "good." This is a program that was whipped 45-28 by this opponent last year (with Boise missing its best receiver and starting running back) at Aloha Stadium's friendly confines.

The comparison -- Jones and Dan "Gandhi" Hawkins, Hawaii and BSU -- isn't an unfair one.

And the contrast is striking.

Hawkins out-Jonesed Jones. BSU out-attacked Hawaii. Once again, this is the opponent that drives home what Hawaii should be accomplishing in this conference.

It may have taken an extra couple of years, but Boise finally stole that ESPN spotlight from Hawaii and Fresno State. Not by being flashy or big-name, or having a "personality" for a coach or by sending players to the pros.

They did it by being good.

No hype. Hawkins just wins.

FRIDAY NIGHT WAS only one (69-3) game. It only counts as one loss, and there will be fireworks at Aloha Stadium again, maybe this week.

But this does get your attention.

It is Jones who has said that past UH coaches have had their good runs, an eight-win season here, nine-win seasons there -- but the winning never lasted. It is Jones who noted Hawaii just couldn't keep the success going under previous coaches, when things weren't supposedly the best they have ever been in the history of the school.

But what is this starting to look like?

It's something when you think of all that has been given and forgotten and justified and forgiven, all in the name of "taking it to the next level."

Folks, I have seen the next level.

This isn't it.



See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

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