Jones not cheering for Boise
June Jones was asked the $500,000 question yesterday.
The Hawaii football coach's answer: no deal.
"We hope they lose," said Jones, when asked if he'd like Boise State to finish unbeaten and earn a berth in a lucrative bowl game that would help every Western Athletic Conference school balance the budget.
"We want to be WAC champions, that's one of our goals this year. And that would allow us to do that, if they lose one," Jones said yesterday at his weekly news conference. "They could lose two as far as I'm concerned."
Hawaii (8-2, 6-1 WAC) finishes its conference season as a three-touchdown favorite against San Jose State (6-3, 3-2) this Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
If UH wins its league finale and Boise State (10-0, 6-0) stumbles Saturday against Utah State (unlikely) or next week at Nevada (possible), the Warriors and Broncos finish tied. They would be officially considered co-champions, even though Boise State dealt Hawaii its last loss, 41-34, seven games ago on Sept. 23.
The Warriors, who crushed Louisiana Tech 61-17 last Saturday, were fans of the Spartans while they were on the way to Aloha Stadium three days ago. San Jose State was playing Boise State, and fell 23-20 on a game-ending field goal.
"Everybody had it on their cell phones. When we were riding, you'd hear a cheer in the back of the bus and you kind of knew San Jose scored or something happened. Everybody was wanting to know what happened," Jones said. "I'm sure we'll be watching Boise this week and next week too."
Jones said the Broncos remain formidable, despite an injury to Ian Johnson that put the star running back in a hospital with a partially collapsed lung.
"I would say they're a pretty good football team, still. Just like us, we have Ross Dickerson behind (Ryan Grice-Mullins)," Jones said. "Guess what, they've got another running back there that we don't know about and he'll run for a lot of yards. Now, is he as good as Ian Johnson? Probably not. But he's a player."
Boise State is ranked 13th in all three human polls and 12th in the BCS standings.
"Boise's undefeated, they should be up there. If we win out, we'll get in there," Jones said. "Winning takes care of that. Usually."
Hawaii is close to being ranked in all three polls. This week, Hawaii received the most voting points among the unranked teams in the Associated Press poll, and the second most in the USA Today coaches' poll and the Harris Interactive BCS poll.
UH was last ranked Nov. 26, 2002, when it was No. 24 in the coaches' poll. It hasn't been ranked by AP since January 1993, when it was 20th after beating Illinois in the Holiday Bowl. The Warriors have not been rated in the two-year history of the Harris poll.
"I don't think too much about (rankings)," Jones said. "But if you keep winning that takes care of itself. It's certainly nice to be considered. But you just win one at a time. One loss knocks you out of that, so it's kind of meaningless, until the end."
Ilaoa still gimpy:
Starting running back Nate Ilaoa ran in conditioning drills yesterday, but Jones said UH's leading scorer with 13 touchdowns was still limping a little. Ilaoa was held out of Saturday's game because of a sprained ankle.
"We probably could've played him (against LaTech). I just told him Thursday and Friday I was going to try to get through the game without him," Jones said. "But if we needed him, be ready to go because he could play. But I knew we needed him healthy for down this stretch. If he tweaked it just a little bit he'd be battling it again this week and every week. So we just tried to get through it. He gives us another dimension in there, but obviously Reagan (Mauia) did a very nice job, too."