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Bill Kwon

Sports Watch

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, March 9, 2000

UH football dilemma
is true March Madness

ONE last word about the University of Texas and I'll drop the whole much ado about nothing.

My biggest complaint about Texas dropping its commitment to play the University of Hawaii in football was the timing.

Whatever the reason, it left UH scrambling to fill another game for a season that's less than six months away.

It would have been a lot easier to find a team to play five months ago than it is now, according to UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida, who's at the WAC basketball tournament in Fresno, Calif.

Yoshida has calls in to a number of fellow athletic directors. And, guess what? They're also all at their respective conference tournaments this week.

"They're all over the place," he said. "Some are in Kansas City, some in Las Vegas."

Kansas City? That's where the Big 12 is holding its tournament. So does that mean maybe another Big 12 team replacing Texas?

Las Vegas? Wait a minute! Isn't that where the Mountain West Conference is holding its hoops tournament?

You mean, Hugh, you're actually thinking of scheduling one of the eight WAC deserters to replace the Longhorns?

"At this stage, we are looking at all of our options and see what we can come up with," Yoshida said. "We're going down the list of all 114 Division-I schools."

That includes the eight Mountain West Conference schools, right? "Well, some of them," Yoshida said.

YES, even dreaded BYU. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be, the Cougars are already tied up with a 12th game. They'll be playing Florida State in the Pigskin Classic.

One MWC school Yoshida definitely has in mind - if not for this season but in the future - is Nevada-Las Vegas.

Eventually, he sees a home-and-home series with UNLV.

"They're a good fit," Yoshida said. And an especially popular road trip for Rainbow fans.

Yoshida was serious about going down the list of schools alphabetically.

His A-list began with Army. Glad he skipped past Alabama.

The Cadets couldn't make it this year, but they are definitely interested in playing here within the next couple of years.

It's almost a matter of getting the paper work done, according to Yoshida.

Of course, you have to wonder what good it is to have something down on paper if no commitment's kept. Like, you know who.

"It's something we have to consider in future contracts," said Yoshida, who learned a valuable Texas two-step lesson.

ONE would be to ask for a steeper buyout penalty for the time and aggravation. The $100,000 forfeit Texas paid isn't worth the scheduling hassle.

The second would be to impose some kind of a time frame to avoid any late scrambling to find a replacement.

The Texas pullout, though, has had a few positive effects in future scheduling.

It might warm, sooner than expected, the frosty relations between UH and the MWC schools with UNLV serving as the icebreaker. Also, both Army and Michigan State are interested in home-and-home series.

And in 2002 and 2003, when the NCAA will allow schools to schedule 12 games and UH can play 13, Yoshida is definitely thinking of taking on a big-name opponent at their place.

"We would be very open to that," Yoshida said.

The "we" includes UH coach June Jones. A 13-game schedule will also give UH more flexible in seeking home-and-home dates.

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

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