Benson believes BCS system works
SEEING Karl Benson among the hundreds of people packed tightly at midfield Friday night brought back an uninvited memory of a similar scene at the WAC championship game in 1996.
On that raucous evening in Las Vegas, Benson avoided an onrush of BYU fans after the No. 5-ranked Cougars beat No. 20 Wyoming in overtime to win the league title on national television and run their record to 13-1.
Benson was convinced that the Fiesta Bowl couldn't pass on BYU, but he was wrong as Texas and Penn State landed the big-money game, leaving the Cougars in the Cotton Bowl to play midlevel Kansas State.
The young WAC commissioner spoke of disappointment and the real belief that BYU deserved one of the at-large bids in what was called the BCS alliance. It was not unlike his thoughts after Hawaii won the most important game in its WAC history, 39-27, over Boise State.
Benson is confident that if Hawaii takes care of business Saturday night against the Pac-10 Washington Huskies, the Warriors will finish high enough in the BCS standings to merit an at-large selection, a sentiment shared by Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier.
You could ask June Jones about his feelings on the BCS subject, but he doesn't have any he'd like to share. In his mind, the Warriors are in the middle of the NFL playoffs. As long as they keep winning, a championship game at the highest level awaits.
That's a nice train of thought because it allows Jones to keep a level head about him. He knows winning games at a school where losing had become a habit is difficult enough. And as well as Hawaii played Friday night against Boise State, the Warriors aren't going to beat the Huskies just by showing up.
But can they match the emotion and execution they managed against the Broncos?
BENSON BELIEVES the ESPN2 nation saw a WAC championship game of sorts. Certainly, the two best teams in the league rose to the top and provided an entertaining game for those tuned in.
You'd have to believe Hawaii will move up at least a notch or two in today's BCS standings, based on losses by Texas, Oregon and Virginia, and strength of schedule. What was a zero for several weeks has now become a small bonus, especially if the human polls reward the Warriors for winning the first outright WAC championship since joining the league in 1979.
Beating Washington would only strengthen Hawaii's position. The Huskies have played the most difficult schedule of the season, while Hawaii has managed one of the easiest. How that all plays out next Sunday when the BCS hands out its invitations is anyone's guess, but Benson and Frazier believe in miracles. The Warriors have lived by that motto as well.
But if Hawaii did lose Saturday, the irony wouldn't be lost on Benson. BYU's lone loss in 1996 that kept the WAC from the BCS dance was against, you guessed it, Washington.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at email@example.com