WAC champs can savor this win, but more work is ahead
JUNE Jones stood on the podium looking out at the sea of humanity rolling across the Aloha Stadium floor like a 25-footer seeking out Waimea Bay. He whispered something into athletic director Herman Frazier's ear, shook his hand and exited the scene like a rock star preparing for the second show.
There is one, you know. A week from today the University of Hawaii plays the next biggest game in school history against Washington, which happens to be the only BCS team on the schedule. How much this 39-27 victory over Boise State plays to the voters and computers across the country remains to be seen.
But here in the 50th state, finally beating Brigham Young's second cousin is enough for a day or two anyway, before the Huskies become the center of attention. For Hawaii, the sheer joy of being 11-0 and Western Athletic Conference champions all on the same day could be seen on the faces of the players holding up the championship trophy.
You could hear it in the locker room as they sang songs and relished beating Boise State for the first time in the 21st century. Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan addressed quietly in this massive celebration the possibility of a letdown next week against the Pac-10 foe.
He shook his head and smiled that Colt smile as he said the importance of that game would not be lost in yesterday's celebration. In his mind, the players and coaches know fully what's at stake. It's one thing to be the WAC champions, but qualifying for a major BCS bowl is bigger still.
Not that this reality did anything to damper the one that descended on the Warriors in a strong second half where the defense met challenge after challenge head-on. One of Brennan's few mistakes early in the third quarter allowed Boise State to set up shop at the UH 22. With Hawaii holding a precarious 26-24 lead, if the Broncos stick it in the end zone, Hawaii is looking at a revived team, ready to win its sixth consecutive WAC championship.
It wasn't meant to be, as Hawaii held Boise to a 36-yard field goal.
BOISE STATE NEVER scored again vs. a much-maligned defense that has been susceptible to the run on more than one occasion this season. UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin played a tape where ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. says Hawaii's defense is terrible and has played a bunch of cupcakes all season.
Somebody should pay those ESPN guys to keep those sound bites coming that motivate the Warriors at all the right moments. If you were one of the fortunate souls to be in that sea of humanity at game's end, you know how happy that defense was for coming through in the clutch once again.
League commissioner Karl Benson was down there. So was Frazier, and both believe Hawaii will be in the top 12 of the final BCS standings if the Warriors can beat down the Huskies. It won't be easy, but little has been this season, and that makes it sweeter still for the 2007 WAC champions.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org