Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, November 19, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

UH Rainbow Football

Mobile Bowl
steps aside

The WAC cuts a deal that
will allow Hawaii to play in either
the Oahu or Las Vegas Bowls

Rainbows wary of Navy
Football shuttle schedule

By Paul Arnett


A deal was made today by Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson preventing Hawaii from being selected by the Mobile (Ala.) Bowl.

"They were very interested in waiting to see how Hawaii finished the season," Benson said at a press conference this morning involving UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida and Bowl Games Hawaii officials Marcia and Lenny Klompus. "To them, a 9-3 Hawaii team that may be in the top 25 with the possible coach of the year was very attractive to them."

The deal, which the presidents approved this morning, clears the way for Hawaii to play in the Oahu Bowl, provided Fresno State beats San Jose State.

If that scenario plays out, the Bulldogs would play in the Las Vegas Bowl, Hawaii in the Oahu Bowl and Texas Christian in the Mobile Bowl if the Horned Frogs win their last two games to finish 7-4.

Hawaii could still wind up in the Las Vegas Bowl if Fresno State loses tomorrow. The WAC has deals with Las Vegas and Mobile to send two teams to those respective bowls.

Although Bowl Games Hawaii is not in that equation, chief executive officer Lenny Klompus said that if the Rainbows won seven games, he would invite them to play here.

Rainbows are
wary of Navy

A win over bowl-bound Hawaii
would be a nice prize for the
struggling Midshipmen


By Paul Arnett


If anyone on the Hawaii football team is having problems concentrating on the Naval Academy, stop by Dan Robinson's locker for an attitude adjustment.

"I still remember losing 12 games last year without a win," the senior quarterback said. "That's all the motivation I need."

Rainbows head coach June Jones conceded earlier in the week that getting his team to climb down out of the clouds after last Saturday's stunning double overtime win over Fresno State might be a serious problem.

Several players said as much after Tuesday's practice, but as time marches on toward tomorrow night's nonconference meeting with the Midshipmen at Aloha Stadium, the Rainbows are beginning to heed Jones' advice.


Bullet When: 6:05 p.m. tomorrow
Bullet Where: Aloha Stadium
Bullet TV: 9 p.m. on KFVE (delay)
Bullet Radio: Live on KCCN-AM (1420)
Bullet RealAudio: Click here
Bullet Records: UH is 7-3. Navy is 4-6.
Bullet Odds: Navy by 3

"This is a good football team that will be looking to come in here and beat a bowl team," Jones said. "We can't forget that what got us here is taking the season one game, one weekend at a time. I've reminded our guys about that."

The message didn't fall on deaf ears. Defensive standout Jeff Ulbrich has kept his attention focused on Navy center Terrence Anderson, quarterback Brian Madden and fullback Raheem Lambert.

After what option teams Rice University and Texas Christian did against the Hawaii defense earlier this season, Ulbrich is taking Navy seriously. In his mind, his unit has something to prove.

"These guys look really good on film," Ulbrich said. "The center may be the best we've faced, and their quarterback and fullback are good athletes.

"We aren't going to let anything slip these last two games. We still want to win every time we step out there. We like the way things feel in a winning locker room."

Hawaii is one win away from the single-best turnaround in NCAA history and is making its first postseason appearance since finishing 11-2 in 1992.

Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson is in town for tomorrow's official announcement of Hawaii being invited to play in the Christmas Day doubleheader.

Three years ago, Navy came to town and pulled off one of the biggest Aloha Bowl upsets this decade when the Midshipmen rallied for a win over California.

Hawaii is expected to play the winner of the Arizona-Arizona State game in the Oahu Bowl. But if Fresno State stumbles and falls at home against San Jose State, then anything is possible. It's likely the Las Vegas Bowl would select Hawaii since it has first choice in the WAC.

"But as nice as all that is," Jones said. "I really want us to be thinking about Navy and nothing else. That other stuff will take care of itself as long as we take care of things on the football field."

Had Navy taken care of business in several close games this season, the Midshipmen might be bowl bound as well. Fifth-year head coach Charlie Weatherbie has watched his team allow several leads in the fourth quarter slip away in defeat.

The Midshipmen have lost five games by six points or less, including three to bowl-hopefuls Notre Dame, Boston College and the Air Force Academy.

At this point, Navy is playing for pride and the chance to finish a level 6-6.

To do that, the Midshipmen must win here tomorrow night and knock off Army in two weeks in the 100th meeting between those two schools.

"We've been in nearly every game this season," Weatherbie said.

"This will be a tough game for us because Hawaii has improved under Coach Jones. He has done a great job of getting these players to believe in themselves again."

Weatherbie has done a good job of building his own belief system. Granted, nine of the 22 starters are graduating, but most of the key personnel will be back next season, including Madden and Lambert on offense, and linebacker Shaka Martin and safety Chris Lepore on defense.

"We had better come ready to play," Jones said, "because this may be one of the better teams we will face this season."



Bowl game plans
taking shape

Hawaii head coach June Jones and his staff don't have all their bowl practice plans in place, but they've moving in that direction.

"We're thinking about starting full practices two weeks before the bowl game itself," Jones said. "We'll take a similar approach to what we're doing now."

The Rainbows held a light workout yesterday in the rain at Cooke Field in preparation for tomorrow's game with the Naval Academy. Jones said the team is a little banged up, so he cut the Rainbows loose once their work was done.

"As a team, we still have to realize we have two games left," Jones said. "It's easy to forget that fact what with all the excitement of being in a bowl game.

We're excited about the opportunity of practicing in the month of December because it gives you a little extra time with the younger players. Our recruiting may be affected somewhat because we had plans to go to the mainland the first part of December. We'll just make some adjustments, maybe concentrate more on the local players because we'll still be here, then see where that takes us."

If Hawaii plays in the Christmas Day doubleheader, bowl practices will begin around Dec. 11. If the Rainbows wind up going to the Las Vegas Bowl, they'll only take a few days off following their game with Washington State before preparing for their Mountain West Conference opponent.

"All we're thinking about right now is Navy because this is a very good football team," Jones said. "It's tough to be up two weeks in a row or come off a game like we had with Fresno State, but we've handled it pretty well in practice this week."

Field work begins

Jones said work on the upper and lower grass practice fields began yesterday.

"They're going to start construction on the upper field for women's soccer and then start on our lower field some time after that," Jones said. "We won't get in the way. If we can't work on the grass fields next month, then we'll move to Cooke Field."

UH administrators said the work wouldn't be completed until next summer. That means, spring practice will be held on Cooke Field's artificial surface. It is hoped everything will be finished in time for fall camp.

"They're going to tear up the entire field, put in a new sprinkler system and then fence it in to keep other people off it," Jones said. "You need a good practice facility to attract quality players."

Attendance lagging

Jones believes the traffic problems in the season opener, coupled with the 62-7 loss to Southern California, scared away many of the "casual fans" who could help the Rainbows with their attendance woes.

"I still believe we can get this thing sold out again, but it's going to take more time than we thought," Jones said. "I'm happy about the fans who are coming out each week. They were loud last week, even Fresno State's coaches said so. Heck, if there had been 50,000 acting like the fans were in the final moments, Aloha Stadium might have come down."

Aloha Stadium officials are expecting about 36,000 for tomorrow's nonconference game with Navy. Local military fans might help bump up that number, but it appears Hawaii has peaked attendance-wise this season.

"We're still up (about 50 percent) over last year," Jones said. "But I think we were all hoping it would be around 40,000 or more."

Through seven games, Hawaii is averaging around 37,000 tickets distributed and 34,500 fans in the house. The Rainbows sold out the season-opener with USC, the first time that has happened since the BYU game in 1993.

Injury update

Safety Phil Austin (hamstring) and defensive lineman Matt Elam (stress fracture) are the only two regular players not in the lineup for this tomorrow's game.

"But we have a group of other players who won't be at full speed," Jones said of defensive linemen Tony Tuioti (back) and Lui Fuga (sprained foot), and defensive backs Dee Miller (ankle) and Nate Jackson (knee).

By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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