The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, January 13, 1998

Once again, Hawaii has presence in Super Bowl

IT'S down to one local boy in the Super Bowl.

Maa Tanuvasa, a defensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, like Pio Sagapolutele last year, is the only one left to do it Hawaiian-style in the big one.

I dare say that Tanuvasa's Broncos stand a better chance against the Green Bay Packers than Sagapolutele's former team, the New England Patriots, did in 1997.

Of course, that's all relative, because the Pack is unbeatable.

But it's great to see the gregarious Tanuvasa, who started his football career as an undisciplined Tigger prototype at Mililani High School, get his chance in San Diego on Jan. 25.

The 6-foot-2, 277-pounder has had a career season with his play at right tackle and his 8.5 regular-season sacks. They now know who No. 98 is out there and Drew Bledsoe will tell anybody how dangerous it can be to ignore him.

Tanuvasa scored the hat trick in sacks against the mosh-pit king in an early-season game.

He's been starting since November and at 27, it looks like Tanuvasa's best days are just ahead of him.

Tanuvasa, by the way, said he follows University of Hawaii basketball very closely and derived "motivation" from seeing the 'Bows beat Kansas in the Rainbow Classic.

He's still paying attention to the team, even with the Super Bowl bearing down on him.

Now that's what you call a true fan.

It's good to see Riley Wallace's team got a reprieve in the Associated Press and even the merciless USA Today college basketball polls.

The 'Bows certainly didn't play like a nationally ranked team on Saturday night at San Diego State but I'd be surprised not to see the fast break in operation once again on Saturday against Southern Methodist.

I see that the Hooters Hula Bowl was having a hard time replacing Eddie Robinson as an assistant coach of the South team Sunday on Maui.

Fred vonAppen turned down an offer and apparently so did St. Louis' Cal Lee.

I've got no right to speak for Lee, but that never stopped me.

I think he ought to take a weekend fling over there, if asked. It's a chance to give his highly successful football program at St. Louis some nationwide off-season exposure.

The fact that a high school coach is replacing Robinson would generate at least one comment from the ESPN crew covering the locally blacked-out game.

Lee has been wanting to get some of the country's better prep programs interested in taking on the Crusaders in preseason, but there have been no takers lately. The Hula Bowl exposure might help.

And the simple fact that any prep coach in the state is considered worthy of such an invitation should heighten the prestige of Hawaii high school sports.

I'm sure the Hooters (I'm still not sold on the wisdom of that sponsorship) hierarchy has yet another replacement in mind. But why not ask Mosi Tatupu to do it?

He's already going to be there to present the special teams award, and it's a well-known fact that Tatupu's fervent wish is to coach at the college or pro level some day.

The bowl position is a token one but it would be an appropriate additional honor for a man who commands respect as one of Hawaii's greatest sports legends.

Tatupu currently coaches varsity football at King Philip High in Massachusetts, where his son was a junior varsity quarterback last season.

Pat Bigold has covered sports for daily newspapers
in Hawaii and Massachusetts since 1978.

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