Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Saturday, November 27, 1999

Senior Walk has
special significance

NOTHING better emphasizes life's reversal of fortunes than this year's football season and there's no better example than the Hawaii Rainbows.

What a chicken-skin final stroll around Aloha Stadium the 19 Rainbow seniors will take after tonight's game with Washington State.

Win or lose.

They and the rest of their teammates have already proven that they are indeed winners in the most dramatic turnaround in college football.

The Senior Walk will be especially significant for fifth-year players Kaulana Noa, Adrian Klemm, Tony Tuioti, Chad Shrout, Andy Phillips, Daniel Ho-Ching and Josh Skinner.

They are the ones who most appreciate UH's reversal of fortune, having suffered through four losing seasons in a row that made them the nation's laughingstock.

But who's laughing now?

Not the 1999 Rainbows, who can close the 20th Century by stamping themselves as one of UH's all-time wonder teams if they can take care of business in their final two games against Pac-10 opponents.

Despite all of their success, the Rainbows still have a lot to play for to make it truly a memorable season.

ON the subject of reversal of fortunes in football just look at St. Louis and Indianapolis compared to Green Bay and San Francisco in the NFL. But Notre Dame, Southern California and UCLA also come to mind.

The Fighting Irish, with their proud tradition, played an irrelevant game at Stanford today. Irrelevant for Stanford, which is looking ahead to the Rose Bowl instead.

Beating Notre Dame? So what? Six other teams did.

Then, we have USC and UCLA, victims of bad football karma, albeit self-induced.

I bet it'll be the last time that Bruin football players pull a handicap-parking scam.

As for the Trojans, that'll teach them to rack up the points against UH. They could have used a few in their six losses this season.

Speaking of reversal of fortune, guess who's the best independent team in college football this year? Not Notre Dame, but Louisiana Tech, a future WAC member.

The WAC is also enjoying a sudden reversal of fortune this season, in a large part due to the Rainbows, who are Oahu Bowl-bound against Oregon State with a possible national coach of the year in June Jones.

TEXAS Christian's 21-0 victory over Southern Methodist last night gives the WAC, put down at the start of the season, three teams in bowl games.

TCU goes to the Mobile Bowl, joining Hawaii and Fresno State, which got invited to the Las Vegas Bowl, as the WAC teams going bowling.

WAC commissioner Karl Benson also points out that future member Boise State is in the Humanitarian Bowl. Don't forget, too, that WAC member San Jose State beat Stanford, the Pac-10 champion.

The best bowl involving WAC teams is the Jeep Oahu Bowl on Christmas Day, matching the Rainbows against the Beavers, who also turned their season around under first-year coach Dennis Erickson.

It'll be Oregon State's first bowl appearance in 34 years.

And maybe the most intriguing aspect of the game pitting two turnaround programs is that Jones and Erickson are former NFL head coaches.

Another nice twist is that Jones' defensive coordinator, Greg McMackin, held the same position under Erickson when he coached the Seattle Seahawks and the Miami Hurricanes.

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

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