Siave Seti and the Warriors did the haka before their first home game this season.
Brennan defends haka
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HOUSTON » On the same day he made it 2-for-2 this season on WAC Player of the Week awards, Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan ripped the league for its stance against the Warriors' pregame haka routine.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson says the performance is perceived as intimidating by some and should not be done while the opponents are on the field. UH was penalized 15 yards for illegal dancing prior to the opening kickoff Saturday at Louisiana Tech, a game which the 24th-ranked Warriors barely won in overtime, 45-44.
Brennan and other players say it is just meant to pump up themselves and their fans.
Coach June Jones said UH has no plans on discontinuing its pregame tradition, but linebacker Brad Kalilimoku said the act is under renovation, and a performance more Hawaiian than Maori might be unveiled Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. UH plays UNLV in a game that will be attended by a large contingent of Polynesians.
Meanwhile, sophomore running back Leon Wright-Jackson talked about his fancy stepping during the LaTech game that included eluding tacklers he couldn't even see on the way to a 47-yard touchdown.
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HOUSTON » Hawaii quarterback and team captain Colt Brennan blasted the Western Athletic Conference yesterday for penalizing the Warriors for their pregame haka performance.
UH was assessed a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and kicked off from its own 15 to start its game at Louisiana Tech last Saturday. The Bulldogs took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Warriors came back to win 45-44 in overtime.
"I'm very disappointed and sad our conference would try not to allow it," Brennan said. "That tears at what college football is all about. We're representing a culture that is very unique. If it intimidates and scares a coach, that's his problem."
Brennan referred to LaTech coach Derek Dooley, who said he "knew it was a point of emphasis," and conferred with officials before the game.
"We were out there in pregame ... that's why they were flagged," Dooley said.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson had warned UH that performing the haka with the opposing team on the field could lead to a penalty. The Bulldogs were on the field when the Warriors began the dance, which was directed toward the UH cheering section at Joe Aillet Stadium.
"It's a tough situation for the officials," Jones said. "We were 75 yards away from the field, facing our fans."
Jones discussed the situation with WAC officials yesterday morning. The coach said he will try to comply with the league's wishes, but that the Warriors will not stop their pregame performances.
"It is special to Hawaii and the fans," he said. "We're not going to change."
The Warriors are, however, planning a modification. The haka is a Maori war dance, and UH players have decided to install a Hawaiian performance, instead.
"We kind of wanted to change it, we're not being forced," senior linebacker Brad Kalilimoku said. "We want to do something that more represents Hawaii."
Kalilimoku said he hopes the team is ready to unveil the new version at Saturday's game at UNLV.
"We'll probably be ready. We want to make sure it's good before we do it and we'll practice throughout the week," Kalilimoku said. "There are a lot of Hawaii fans who are going to be at the game, and a lot of people from Hawaii. We want them to be proud of where they're from."
BYU and New Mexico State also perform pregame hakas. Benson said NMSU's is acceptable because the Aggies do it without the opposing team present.
Brennan said if UH can't perform the haka in front of the other team, then other schools should have to abide by the same standard when it comes to their traditions.
"Alabama swinging their arms (like elephant trunks), everything like that. If we have to stop, every school should have to stop," Brennan said. "But that's not what college football is all about."
Kalilimoku said the haka is not meant to intimidate the other team.
"To us, it's just representing where we're from. Others may perceive it as something negative toward them," Kalilimoku said. "I don't see what the big thing is. It's not like we're physically touching them."