JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Jacob Patek celebrated a hit Saturday on San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis that resulted in a fumble recovery for Hawaii during the second half of the Warriors' 54-17 win over the Spartans. The win propelled UH into the Top 25.
The 9-2 Hawaii football team cracks the Top 25 in the national polls for the first time since the 2002 season
George Lumpkin and Ben Yee have been associated with the Hawaii football program since the early 1970s and late 1960s. But this is just the fifth season they can enjoy the team being nationally ranked.
Among the Best
This is the fifth season the University of Hawaii football team has achieved a ranking in the polls.
» 1981 -- Sept. 9: 16th, UPI; 18th, AP.
» 1989 -- Oct. 2: tied for 20th, UPI. Oct. 9: tied for 19th, UPI. Oct. 30: 24th, Coaches. Nov. 6: 24th, Coaches. Nov. 13: 24th, AP; 24th, Coaches; 20th, The Sporting News. Nov. 20: 24th, AP; 24th, Coaches. Nov. 27: 19th, UPI; 23rd, AP; 23rd, Coaches. Dec. 4: 19th, UPI; 23rd AP; 23rd, Coaches. Dec. 11: 25th, AP; 25th, Coaches.
» 1992 -- Sept. 28: 23rd, AP; 23rd, Coaches; 7th, New York Times. Nov. 1: 25th, Coaches. Nov. 8: 24th, AP; 23rd, Coaches; 21st, New York Times. Nov. 15: 25th, Coaches. 1993 (1992 season-ending) -- Jan. 2/3: 20th, AP; 20th, Coaches.
» 2002 -- Nov. 26: 24th, Coaches.
» 2006 -- Nov. 19: 25th, AP; 25th, Coaches; 25th, Harris.
Source: UH Football media guide
The Warriors made No. 25 in all three major national polls (Associated Press, USA Today/Coaches and Harris Interactive BCS) yesterday. It is the first time Hawaii has been ranked since 2002.
Lumpkin, a former player and longtime assistant coach, said yesterday was "just another day at the office" for him. But he is happy for the players.
"I'm overjoyed for them," said Lumpkin, the outside linebackers coach. "I think they've worked hard, played hard. A lot of them took their lumps and were just getting started two years ago when they got beat bad at Boise and Fresno."
The players, coaches and supporters are trying to temper their excitement until January -- when they hope the team will have won its remaining three games and finish in the Top 25. That is what really counts, junior quarterback Colt Brennan said.
"We have games against two teams (Purdue and Oregon State) from big-time conferences coming up. Once we get that job done, it will say enough (to the voters)," Brennan said after leading the Warriors to a 54-17 win against San Jose State on Saturday.
The Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl -- in which the Warriors will play a team from the Pac-10 -- could also have heavy weight in how poll voters decide where UH fits among the nation's best teams.
Hawaii is 9-2, and its last four victories have been by an average of 48 points. The Warriors lead the nation in scoring, total yards and passing yards. Brennan is six touchdown passes away from tying the national single-season record, and is expected to get some votes for the Heisman Trophy.
"I did kind of know we were going to be good," head coach June Jones said. "I knew we had the right chemistry. Pretty much everything has come to fruition. It's been a pretty powerful year."
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Nate Ilaoa scored a TD ahead of San Jose State's Justin Cole in the fourth quarter on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
Hawaii was ranked in the coaches' poll for two weeks in 2002, Jones' fourth year at UH. But the Warriors finished the season 10-4 and unranked.
Lumpkin and Yee were around for the only season when UH was ranked at the conclusion, in 1992. The WAC co-champion Rainbows, coached by Bob Wagner, finished 11-2 and ranked 20th in the coaches and AP polls after beating Illinois in the Holiday Bowl.
"We were winning games but they were hard-fought games," Lumpkin said. "Those players just willed themselves to win. Someone always made a play. In 1992 they picked us to be eighth in the WAC, but Maa (defensive tackle Tanuvasa) went out and had T-shirts made with an 8 with a slash in it.
"This year, our offense is clicking and now our defense is, too. We always go in a little nervous, but these guys seem to understand what it takes to win, and they're really doing a good job at playing hard, paying attention to detail."
Yee is vice president of the team's Na Koa booster club and has been one of the team's most ardent supporters for four decades.
He said the 1992 team -- cited by some as the program's best ever -- and the 2006 team share some common traits.
"The teams are similar in chemistry and attitude, very similar," Yee said. "They're mature and they play together."
The 1992 team enjoyed more community support, Yee said.
"You certainly don't have the feeling now you had then. It comes down to attendance. I really don't like that pay TV. They say it brings in money, but no doubt in my mind it affects attendance."
The 1992 team's announced attendance was more than 40,000 for every home game. This year's team has not cracked 30,000 at the turnstile in six home games.
Yee said he does not think UH getting ranked will significantly improve the crowds for the final three games.
"I'd very much like to say yes, but the way things have gone, I've kind of lost faith," he said.
Lumpkin said he does not understand why more people do not come to the games.
"It's a great mystery to me. We have an exciting offense and the defense is hitting. I'm really at kind of a loss," he said. "I just thank God for the success we've had."