Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

ONE of the most serendipitous sports happenings in years - and a booster shot-in-the-arm for the Hula Bowl and University of Hawaii athletics - came as a result of a simple request for a videotape.

The American Football Coaches Association announced a partnership with the Hula Bowl, beginning with next year's game on Jan. 19 at Aloha Stadium.

And how's this for instant credibility? The two head coaches will be Notre Dame's Lou Holtz and Bobby Bowden of Florida State.

It'll be a North-South format, so one of Bowden's assistants will be Fred vonAppen, University of Hawaii's new head football coach. "I'm very flattered," vonAppen said. "Clearly my record didn't qualify me for participation in this game. I'm zero, zero and zero."

Fisher DeBerry of the Air Force Academy also will be one of the assistant coaches. The others will be the national coaches of the year in each of the divisions.

"This was not a casual thing that happened," said Grant Teaff, the AFCA executive director in a teleconference call from Waco, Texas. "This went to the executive board. This was something major that was adopted by the association."

Teaff said that from a personal standpoint, he had a long and enjoyable relationship with the Hula Bowl, and many of his former Baylor players also enjoyed the experience.

WITH its association with the AFCA, the Hula Bowl will now be sanctioned by the NCAA. It had not been in the last three years. The AFCA will announce later the names of two retired coaches who will help in the selection of the players.

"The selection process has been here, there and everywhere in the last two years. Now, the best coaches will deliver the best players," said Lenny Klompus, chairman and CEO of Bowl Games Hawaii, at yesterday's press conference at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider.

"In any business, you go to the top, go to the boss. That's what we are doing, going to the top."

How Klompus was able to "go to the top" proved as interesting as the new relationship between the AFCA and the Hula Bowl.

Klompus called a long-time friend, Roy Hamlin, president of AdCraft Sports Marketing, about making videotapes of the last Hula Bowl to give to the players.

It just so happens that the Louisville-based company also represents the 8,000-member AFCA. One thing led to another, and soon Klompus got together with Teaff, who never forgot his Hula Bowl experiences. He coached here three times, including the 1992 game.

One thing led to another, and voila!

It didn't just end with a new lease on life for the Hula Bowl, which both Klompus and his wife, Marcia, hope will last for another 50 years.

ADCRAFT also represents the 6,000-member American Baseball Coaches Association. Again, one thing led to another.

So, beginning next January during the week of the Hula Bowl, there will be an ABCA-sanctioned tournament to open the collegiate baseball season at Rainbow Stadium. Besides the host Rainbows, three nationally ranked teams will be invited to the round-robin tournament, which will be nationally televised.

Dave Keilitz, executive director of the baseball association, said that plans call for the College World Series champion to be one of the teams. Recent national champions Oklahoma, Miami and Florida State have expressed an interest.

Obviously, University of Hawaii athletic director Hugh Yoshida and baseball coach Les Murakami are elated.

In addition, UH suddenly has a strong ally in lobbying the NCAA in baseball matters, since the new tournament - if it is to be successful - may require an exemption to the once-in-four-years legislation for visiting teams.

What a terrific deal all around - for the Hula Bowl, University of Hawaii and local sports fans - all because of a videotape request.

Bill Kwon has been writing about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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