Next step can happen with a win
IT'S time to erase the memory of 69-3. It's time to remove that taste.
It's time for this team to win this game at that place.
It's time for this program to make that move, to ascend that step. It's time for Hawaii to win on the road vs. Boise State. (It's time for Hawaii to beat Boise, period.)
This looks, after last Saturday night's dismantling of UNLV, like it could be the Hawaii team to do it. It should be. It better be. This is Year Eight of the June Jones era.
Is it unfair to raise expectations like this, to demand that UH win this game, to imply that this victory is past due? Well, of course. That's crazy. This is just a team trying to win a game, guys working hard, coaches coaching, fans hoping. And Boise State is good, for goodness sake! As coaches always say, they're coaching on the other side, too.
Except, well, that's where we are, these days. Or should be, after all we've heard. Expectations have been ratcheted up. Hyperbole. Hype. The Greatest Ever. ... The Best In the History Of. ... Nothing that came before was ever as good as this.
Well, OK. It's been eight years. Time to win this game.
Win it, and Hawaii takes that first step. June Jones may just separate himself from Tomey and Wags yet.
Lose and, well, it's back to business as usual.
And, make no mistake, (in wins and losses, at least) business has been pretty good. Jones is a good coach. UH has won plenty.
But it's nothing UH football fans haven't seen before. It wouldn't just be business as usual for this particular team, but business as usual for UH football period, in the modern era. (Luckily, history has shown Fred "0-12" vonAppen to be a three-year blip. Eight years removed he has been reduced to bogeyman/straw man status, a ghost story to tell the boosters when they're slow to pony up.)
Jones is Hawaii's best coach in the modern era through his first 92 games, winning at a .586 clip. Bob Wagner's percentage through his first 92 was .576. Dick Tomey won one fewer game than Wags did in that many chances, .565.
On the road through their first 92 games it was Tomey at .428, Jones hitting .400, Wagner at .333.
Against the big boys, what we would now call BCS-conference teams, Tomey won at a .363 pace through this period, Jones one out of three at .333 and Wagner an eye-popping .533
(he owned Oregon; even when he was slipping he was taking it to the Pac-10).
We've seen this before.
And we liked it before. But supposedly, the ante has been upped. Supposedly, it's different now.
OK, then. It's time for Hawaii to win a game like this at a place like that. It has to, or it's business as usual, again.
It has to, or nothing has changed but the changes, the colors and the nickname and the music and the hype.
Again and again we've heard "June Jones" and "the next level" in the same sentence. Meanwhile, the next level has taken up residence in Idaho, at a former Big West school, a former Big Sky school (a former I-AA, a former JC), dining on a steady diet of potatoes and trick plays on blue turf.
Three outright Western Athletic Conference titles and another one shared to make it four straight.
Five straight wins over UH.
It's been a shadow over Hawaii's success. A conversation stopper. A cloud. A reminder of what "next level" really looks like, if that is your topic of choice.
It's a comparison no one wearing black wants to hear. But there it is.
Boise State is the pin that pops the balloon.
It's Year Eight. If you're hoping for "next level" it's time for this team to win this game at this place.
It could happen this year. Hawaii's defensive front looks tough. The UH offense is in top form, running free. This could be the year. This could be the team. In our "Footbrawl Fever" picks, I have UH winning the game.
We've thought this before, of course. UH was good enough to win 10 games in 2002, but not this one (58-31). In 2004 the entire offense was back, but ... (69-3).
If Hawaii wins, has it arrived? Would this be a "next level" step? Well, it would be the first step. The minimum payment due. Lose and it's "same level."
It's time for Hawaii to win this game.