UH-Fresno game in Japan premature
DON'T rush out to update that passport quite yet, Hawaii and Fresno State football fans. Although coach June Jones said yesterday UH could open next season in The Land of the Rising Sun, he knows it's extremely unlikely. Unless current scheduling plans fall apart like UH's special teams did Saturday, the Warriors and Bulldogs won't make real plans for discovering Japan for at least another year or two, if at all.
Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier is almost ready to announce the last two games to fill next year's schedule. One opponent is Washington at Aloha Stadium. The other hasn't been named yet, but it isn't Fresno State in Asia for a prequel or a sequel to the routine conference scrum in the San Joaquin Valley.
The NFL's Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers -- neither one quite the flagship of Futbol Americano -- drew more than 100,000 to a game in Mexico on Sunday. A day later, Jones and Bulldogs coach Pat Hill once again expressed their yen for a tilt in supposedly football-hungry Japan. Both said it could be a big moneymaker, and it's a creative option since it's getting harder for both programs to get visitors to accept the challenge of two of the tougher home-field advantages in college football that can't afford big-time payouts.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he likes the Japan idea, too, especially since the Pac-10 didn't do his conference any favors by expanding its league schedule to nine games beginning next year, when the number of total regular-season games allowed goes up to 12 (13 for Hawaii and other schools that play a game here).
"Some real thought has gone into it," Hill said. "It could be nonleague at the end of the year for a big gate."
Benson said a WAC matchup in Mexico is a possibility, too. New Mexico State and Fresno State or Louisiana Tech across the Rio Grande would make some geographical sense in a league that is generally lacking in the concept.
If you can't come up with a clear Japanese or Spanish translation for the WAC's new slogan, how about a simple "Play Up, Mate?"
UH associate head coach George Lumpkin did some legwork in Australia and Jones mentioned a game in the homeland of former Rainbow standout Colin Scotts as yet another possibility.
Don't blame the turf: Idaho coach Nick Holt lamented the loss of nine starters due to injury since the start of the season. After two home games in the Astroturf-carpeted Kibbie Dome, though, Holt said none of the injuries are due to the surface.
"We only practice on it once a week ... really light. It's not an issue," Holt said.
And Jones will be happy to learn this: "We'll replace it, hopefully soon, a year or two," Holt added.
Honorees: Fresno State running back Bryson Sumlin (106 yards, two TDs against Toledo), Idaho linebacker Mike Anderson (71-yard TD interception return against Utah State) and Boise State's Orlando Scandrick (TD and blocked-PAT return for two points against Hawaii) picked up the conference Player of the Week awards for their roles in their teams' wins.
Dave Reardon is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter who covers University of Hawaii football and other topics. His column appears periodically.
E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org