Sugar Bowl debacle leaves UH with more questions than answers
On the long plane ride home yesterday, those of us fortunate to cover Tuesday's Sugar Bowl talked among ourselves at what the ramifications are for Hawaii's poor performance in the 41-10 loss to Georgia.
The game was such a disappointment on so many levels, it's hard to imagine Hawaii ever finding itself on such a prominent stage again. Before the game, June Jones was rumored to be in line for every job opening in America and Colt Brennan was a can't-miss first-round selection.
Now, Jones will be fortunate to crack the $1 million mark in yearly salary at UH and Brennan will be lucky if he's selected on the first day of the NFL Draft. That sounds harsh and cruel, but Brennan said it best after the BCS debacle -- life isn't fair. It's best just to move on. Or as Jones would say -- one snap and clear.
That's difficult considering how out of place Hawaii was in this nationally televised game. All the problems the school had off the field leading up to this grand moment were minor after watching how the Warriors played on it, leaving even the rabid Bulldog fans feeling sorry for their little brothers from the island chain.
Hawaii's suspect schedule that allowed UH to go undefeated exposed the weaknesses of the team on both sides of the football. The offense was overmatched from the outset; the play-calling limited and unimaginative. Brennan barely had time to cock his arm before Georgia's defenders descended on him like a pack of hyenas.
The defense was a bright spot, which isn't saying much since the Bulldogs produced 34 points against it. Georgia running backs Thomas Brown and Knowshon Moreno were faster and stronger than anyone Hawaii had faced.
And while sophomore quarterback Matthew Stafford isn't ready to join Florida's Tim Tebow at the Heisman podium, he managed the game so much better than Brennan by recognizing Hawaii's different packages, you wonder how he was ever labeled the "other" quarterback in this game.
MID-MAJORS from across the land shed a tear for Brennan and themselves because it could be years before another one of these schools is allowed to crash the BCS party. Hawaii didn't deserve to be on the same field as this talented team. And anyone who thought so before the game knows differently now.
That's not to say local fans should throw Jones' run-and-shoot baby out with the bath water. A 12-1 record and a BCS bowl appearance are two things that will be better appreciated after this stinging defeat fades. What Brennan did can't be discounted in one night, but it is diminished.
The detractors will say they told you so. You can't argue with them because they are right. No way can the best WAC team match wits with a top-flight SEC program. It's like asking a computer nerd to propose to the head cheerleader and expect the answer to be yes. That only happens in Disney cartoons. Reality bites as a dazed and confused Brennan can attest.
What the future holds for this kid is as blurry as his vision was after the game as he tried to walk off the field under his own power. The O-line misses Coach Cav. Junior receivers Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullins have no reason to contemplate coming out early. And the UH coaches have to hit the recruiting trails more diligently than they have the last couple of years or a hard rain is going to fall.
Next year, Hawaii has a schedule better suited for a real member of the BCS. The Warriors have several solid citizens returning on both sides of the football, but they don't have Colt and who knows what Jones might do this offseason. As wonderful as things were Monday night, Wednesday morning hit Hawaii like Georgia's defensive front, leaving a lot more questions than answers as the dream season ends with a sack.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org