CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Quarterback Colt Brennan has helped Hawaii get televised on the mainland this season.
Warriors want to impress
Davone Bess vaguely recalls his lone viewing experience of the University of Hawaii football team as a teen at Oakland's Skyline High School.
It wasn't flattering.
"You know, I saw Hawaii one time, but it wasn't nothing spectacular," said Bess, now a junior slotback for the 8-0 and Bowl Championship Series 14th-ranked Warriors. "I wasn't amped about it. All I remember was Timmy Chang, the quarterback. Other than that, I wasn't really into it at all."
In a strange twist of fortunes, Bess found his way to the Islands anyway and now can help engineer a better show in the coming weeks for the Warriors' growing fan base nationwide.
With ESPN possibly picking up Hawaii's game against Fresno State on Nov. 10, an unprecedented five regular season games could be nationally televised -- and more importantly, all four of the Warriors' final contests as they make a stretch run for a possible BCS berth. Hawaii's previous season high was four appearances, including ESPN's coverage of the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in both 2003 and 2004.
"I think this is a great, great opportunity for kids across the country, who're giving letters and who're interested in Hawaii, to get a peek at us firsthand," Bess said.
"Players would see how family-oriented we are and how we play together," added junior safety Erik Robinson, a Texan who had never seen Hawaii on national TV.
Secondary coach Rich Miano felt the increased coverage's influence on recruiting depends on just how good Hawaii looks in those games. On Oct. 12 against San Jose State on ESPN, the Warriors pulled out a 42-35 comeback in overtime -- thrilling, yes, but not the dominant win the team wanted.
"It's one thing to be on (TV) and not being able to perform, so there's pressure," Miano said. "Every game is like a playoff now. We want to win the WAC championship, we want to go undefeated, but every game -- and I think the players realize it -- the intensity magnifies when millions of people are watching versus 40,000 in the stadium."
Of the final three home dates at Aloha Stadium, Nov. 23 against Boise State is already sold out and athletic director Herman Frazier expects the Fresno State and Washington (Dec. 1) games to be at or near full capacity.
That's not a surprise for Miano, who called it "disappointing" if the 50,000-seat stadium wasn't full for senior quarterback Colt Brennan's final games, even with no home crowd topping 40,000 this year.
Big crowds are key in impressing TV audiences, defensive coordinator Greg McMackin explained.
"It's so important because people like to see that our fans do support us," he said. "I think we have great fans, and recruits like to be appreciated."
Hawaii's record for sellouts at Aloha Stadium during a season is just two, accomplished most recently in 1988.
"I think it's like when Derek Tatsuno pitched, when A.C. (Carter) played basketball with Alika (Smith), people are only going to be able to see this team once," Miano said. "I've been around Hawaii football a long time (since 1982), and the exposure that Colt has brought, the exposure that Coach (June) Jones has brought, the whole program is at a level now where people throughout the nation respect and enjoy watching Hawaii football."
Cox removed from team
Sophomore running back Mario Cox was removed from the team yesterday, coach June Jones announced.
The reason for Cox's departure was not mentioned. Safety B.J. Fruean was previously removed this season for breaking team rules, and both Cox and Fruean were temporarily kicked off the team last season for academic reasons but were reinstated in January.
Cox, of Oakland, was fourth on the depth chart behind Kealoha Pilares, Leon Wright-Jackson and David Farmer, and put together nine yards rushing on four carries and two receptions for 15 yards in five games this year.
He compiled 72 yards on 16 carries as a true freshman in 2005.