DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's C.J. Hawthorne and Davone Bess congratulated each other Friday during the first half of the game against Boise State.
Victory lifts UH in national ranks
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No. 12 now is good for the University of Hawaii football team. No. 12 next week would be great.
The Warriors made it into the top dozen of the Bowl Championship Series standings yesterday. They will go to one of the top five bowl games if they are still there after Saturday's final regular-season game against Washington when the final list comes out Sunday.
If Hawaii beats the Huskies to complete the season at 12-0, is there any way it does not get into a BCS game? No, according to Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson.
"Absolutely not," said Benson, although conspiracy theorists will continue to think up scenarios in which teams from big-time conferences can sneak past UH.
Hawaii moved up from No. 15 in the BCS standings yesterday after beating Boise State 39-27 on Friday for the Western Athletic Conference championship.
UH is the nation's only unbeaten major college team. It moved up to 10th in both the USA Today coaches poll and the Harris poll, which are used in the BCS rankings. So are computer rankings, in which Hawaii climbed to 14th. The coaches and Harris Poll ratings, as well as a No. 11 standing in the Associated Press poll, are the highest ever for UH.
Warriors coach June Jones said he will stick with his plan of not worrying about rankings and instead focus on getting prepared for Washington.
"Nothing that anyone else says has meant anything to us," Jones said. "We knew from the beginning that if we didn't win every game, Colt (Brennan) would have no chance for the Heisman, and we would have no chance for the big dance."
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Hawaii football has a secret admirer.
UH got a first-place vote in a major college football poll yesterday for what is believed to be the first time. It came in the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, which doesn't publicize its individual voting or encourage panelists to do so.
UH came out No. 10 in the Harris and USA Today coaches polls yesterday, helping the Warriors move up to a No. 12 position in the BCS standings that should get them into a BCS bowl game if they beat Washington on Saturday.
Harris voters include Bob Wagner and Hugh Yoshida. The former UH football coach and retired athletic director both said they didn't put the Warriors at the top.
"I'm probably a little more objective than some people think I should be," Wagner said.
Yoshida said he moved UH "way up" after Hawaii beat Boise State 39-27 on Friday to win the Western Athletic Conference championship and run its record to 11-0. With Kansas' loss to Missouri on Saturday, UH became the only unbeaten major-college team in the country.
But Yoshida said he wasn't the one who gave Hawaii its first-place vote.
"I'm very happy for the team, but I have to keep a little bit of credibility," Yoshida said.
Another panelist who lives in Hawaii, Star-Bulletin sports writer Cindy Luis, said she voted the Warriors at No. 9.
That leaves 111 other panelists. They include former players, coaches and administrators, as well as some media members, from around the nation.
Perhaps retired WAC commissioner Joe Kearney is UH's mystery friend. He could not be reached for comment last night.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier and head football coach June Jones held up the WAC Championship trophy after Saturday's win over Boise State.
The Warriors are No. 11 in the Associated Press poll, with Star-Bulletin sports editor Paul Arnett placing UH at No. 10.
The rankings are the highest ever for Hawaii in all three polls.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said UH controls its BCS destiny, and a victory over 10-point underdog Washington on Saturday assures that Hawaii gets into one of the top five bowl games. Such a game gives Hawaii an opportunity to finish the season ranked in the top five in the nation, and provides millions of dollars to UH and the WAC.
Since the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans has last choice of teams, that's where midmajor Hawaii without a proven mainland following would probably end up. It's not impossible that the Warriors could play in the more geographically friendly Fiesta Bowl in Arizona, but Benson said bowl games officials make the final decision.
The Rose Bowl is an outside possibility if Ohio State gets in the national championship game, but officials of the granddaddy of 'em all may be hesitant to break far enough from tradition to invite Hawaii.
UH athletic director Herman Frazier was a Fiesta Bowl director and chairman when he worked at Arizona State. He reserved comment on the situation.
"(Frazier's) got great relationships there, but the Fiesta Bowl will do what's best for the Fiesta Bowl. Right now I think the BCS takes care of itself, and there's no lobbying to do there," Benson said. "It's a matter of which bowl believes that Hawaii's the best team for it."
Benson has other things to think about, such as which teams will play in which WAC bowls, contingent on Hawaii winning or losing Saturday. If the Warriors go on to a BCS game, he will have three teams for three bowls; Boise State, Fresno State and the winner of the Nevada-Lousiana Tech game will play in the MPC Computers Bowl (Boise), the Hawaii Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl.
Benson said he hasn't decided who will play where, and the assignments won't necessarily follow geographic patterns.
"We predicate everything on trying to match up with the best possible opponents," Benson said. "And there's still a lot of uncertainty, especially if Hawaii loses."