Pat Bigold

The Way I See It

By Pat Bigold

Tuesday, November 2, 1999

UH football fans have it
better than they realize

THE honeymoon between fans and the Rainbows football team seems to be ending.

C'est la vie.

No one should've expected it to last forever.

Success always breeds greed, and that's what five wins will do in this football community.

Forgotten is the fact June Jones, his staff and players like Dan Robinson and Jeff Ulbrich have turned around the country's most pathetic Division I program. They've restored its dignity and inflamed imaginations.

That's something Fred vonAppen and the Rainbow Warrior mascot were unable to do.

What the Rainbows can't do is work miracles.

They can't maintain the honeymoon forever.

Remember that Jones recently assumed control of a program that looked about as promising as Bikini Atoll after atomic testing ended.

He arrived to survey scorched earth.

After 18 straight losses, the concept of winning was nonexistent here.

He restored it.

JONES has transformed a team that was humbled, 62-7, by USC in the opener and then struggled to beat Eastern Illinois. He's led Hawaii to two straight road wins, and when's the last time we saw that?

He's actually got his guys believing they can win games. And that's no small accomplishment. Many of them are holdovers from ground zero days.

Jones hasn't even had a full season to recruit yet.

The Rainbows are not facing titans on this schedule. But come to grips with reality. They're far from ready to face titans.

Jones will eventually make Hawaii as competitive as it was in the Holiday Bowl year. I believe that.

But, for now, be happy this football team is no longer losing the games any decent team should win.

This is a scrappy and exciting team that will win six or seven times this season. They're not even out of the WAC race yet.

JUST keep things in perspective. Any expectations similar to what fans of Florida State, Florida, Penn State or Tennessee harbor are way out of line here.

We're in the middle of the Pacific, in case anybody forgot. It's not easy to build a top-25 team on an island six time zones from New York. The Rainbows are not loaded with natural talent.

Jones' task in recruiting is formidable, though I think he'll do better than his predecessors.

I'd hate to see anyone start calling for his head, no matter what happens the rest of this season. There's nobody, I repeat, nobody, who could do any better under the circumstances.

We do know there are some coaches who could do a lot worse.

I've never been one to say fans have an obligation to support the university's teams through thick and thin. That's not my job.

It costs money to attend games and you deserve your money's worth. I wouldn't buy a ticket to watch a hapless team. It's barely tolerable to sit in press row for free and watch something like that.

But common sense tells us the Rainbows football team is still the best show in town. With coaching minds like Jones and defensive coordinator Greg McMackin at the helm, the show is bound to get better and better.

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

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