Wednesday, March 8, 2000
Its decision not to playBy Paul Arnett
continues a troubling trend
for UH football
During the past year, Notre Dame and Texas have decided not to play scheduled nonconference football games with the University of Hawaii.
It's a troubling trend that may hamper the UH athletic department in its attempts to attract marquee opponents at the beginning and end of the football season.
The University of Texas confirmed yesterday that it had opted not to make the Sept. 2 trip, citing several factors, including financial.
UH head coach June Jones questioned the Longhorns' manhood, the Western Athletic Conference was upset because of the potential loss of national exposure and UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida expressed disappointment for the cancellation of the season opener.
"I'm terribly disappointed that Texas would walk away at this point,'' said WAC Commissioner Karl Benson.
"The timing is the worst for Hawaii. At the right time, we need to go on record indicating our disappointment to the Big 12.''
'I'm terribly disappointed that Texas wouldKarl Benson
walk away at this point. ... At the right time,
we need to go on record indicating our
disappointment to the Big 12.'
WAC COMMISSIONER, ON THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS
CANCELLING ITS FOOTBALL GAME AGAINST
THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
Yoshida is also well aware that there are developments on the national scene that could hurt the Rainbows in scheduling top-caliber opponents that he needs to justify the recent season-ticket increases.
For one, during certain calendar years, teams will be able to play 12 regular-season games without having to consider the Hawaii exemption.
For another, teams in leagues such as the Big 12 and the Southeastern conferences have title games that could mean 13- and 14-game campaigns. Texas is in the Big 12.
The Longhorns are likely to be among the top five teams in this year's preseason polls. Had they played the Rainbows, the Longhorns could have been staring down the barrel of a 14-game season.
That's a difficult course for teams contending for a national championship.
"They had nothing to gain by playing us,'' Jones said. "Especially when they realized we had a good shot at beating them.''
Notre Dame's reason for not playing Hawaii late in the year was because of UH's poor Bowl Championship Series rating. Had the Fighting Irish come over here and struggled - as they did in 1992 and 1997 - it could have hurt them for a possible national title run.
Ironically, Hawaii's rapid turnaround probably figured in Texas head coach Mack Brown's decision to cancel this year's meeting.
Brown would rather have an extra week of practice to prepare for a home opener with Louisiana-Lafayette before traveling to Stanford to play the Cardinal.
"We have looked at this from every angle," said Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds in a press release. "There are a lot of different issues, and we have had serious conversations about all of them. The bottom line is, we have to do what is in the best interest of our football program."
Under the terms of the contract, if Hawaii does not find "an opponent of similar stature" to replace the game, Texas will pay UH $100,000 for opting out.
"I'm sorry this didn't work out, and for any inconvenience it causes Hawaii and our fans who had looked forward to the trip," said Dodds.
"We enjoyed playing in Hawaii in 1995.
"There were just too many factors working against this trip for it to happen."
"The game was on the schedule when I came here, and we had looked forward to the trip and competing against Hawaii,'' Brown said. "This isn't a personal issue between coaches, or an issue between two teams. It is simply a matter of what's best in the long term for our athletics department and our football program.''
What's best for Hawaii is to find a replacement and fast.
Alabama-Birmingham is a possibility. UH has open dates on Sept. 2, Sept. 16 and Dec. 2.
WAC associate commissioner Jeff Hurd said Yoshida had the backing of the league's athletic directors, who discussed the situation at yesterday's meetings.
Brown is scheduled to coach in the 2001 Hula Bowl in Maui. Bowl Games Hawaii officials said last night the decision will be left up to the American Football Coaches Association - which selects the players and the coaches - as to whether it is appropriate for Brown to take part in next January's game.
Ka Leo O Hawaii