Minutes after it was announced yesterday that the 8,000-member organization was entering a partnership with the Hula Bowl, AFCA executive director Grant Teaff said from his Waco, Texas, home that the head coaches for the 1997 all-star game would be Notre Dame's Lou Holtz and Florida State's Bobby Bowden.
"I was extremely proud and honored when the AFCA asked me to be one of the head coaches for the 1997 Hula Bowl," Bowden said in a press release.
"What a great game with great tradition throughout the years. You couldn't ask for a better setting to reward these fine student-athletes than to let them show their talents in Hawaii."
Joining these two coaching giants as assistants are University of Hawaii head coach Fred vonAppen and Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry, who is the current AFCA president.
"I'm happy to be asked to take part in the Hula Bowl in my first year of head coaching at Hawaii," vonAppen said. "I feel like with the help of the AFCA, this college all-star game can continue its great tradition."
Teaff said via a telephone hookup that this game would not only honor the players, but the coaches as well. Beginning with next year's game, the national "coach of the year" winners from Division I-AA, Division II and Division III will serve as assistants.
Will coach in next year's game
Retired coaching legends also will be asked to participate in the game. Teaff said two coaches will be picked later this year to take part in the 1997 matchup.
Because Bowden is in the south and Holtz is in the north, it also was decided the format will switch from East-West to North-South beginning next year.
"We are excited about our association with the Hula Bowl because it will allow the AFCA to highlight the best of our profession at all levels of college football," Teaff said.
"We are looking forward to a long-term relationship with the Hula Bowl and the state of Hawaii. Hopefully, this relationship will work well for everyone involved."
Getting coaches to agree to give up a valuable week of recruiting was a major obstacle the AFCA and Hula Bowl officials had to overcome.
With the help of the AdCraft Sports Marketing Firm, which represents the AFCA, a deal was worked out that will allow many of the big-name coaches to return to the islands.
"I think the Hula Bowl is a special game in a special place," Holtz said. "You have great athletes coming over for just a wonderful experience.
"As a football coach, you feel a twofold obligation in coaching the Hula Bowl. You first want to make sure that the fans see an honest, first-rate effort from these talented players. Secondly, you want to make sure that the players have an experience of a lifetime. Obviously, you want to win the football game, too."
Holtz was head coach of the East in the 1993 game. His team was knocked off by the West on a last-second field goal by former UH place-kicker Jason Elam.
That was the last Hula Bowl sanctioned by the NCAA. As part of the agreement, the AFCA will cover the $100,000 sanction fee.
Hula Bowl officials also an
nounced a sports festival week, in conjunction with AdCraft, that will include a national preseason tournament in baseball hosted by Hawaii at Rainbow Stadium.
Hula Bowl chief operating officer Lenny Klompus said he hopes all these events will help carry the annual college all-star game safely into the next century.
Since taking over the game in September of 1994, he and executive director Marcia Klompus have landed five-year contracts with ESPN-TV and the Hooters restaurant chain.
Lenny Klompus hopes the partnership with the AFCA will take the Hula Bowl to the next level.
"We're hoping the AFCA's coaches can help us land many of the game's top players," Klompus said.