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Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

U H _ F O O T B A L L

UH Football

Mountain West
should pick UH

Retiring BYU coach regrets
not having the Warriors
on the schedule

By Paul Arnett

WAILUKU, Maui -- Outgoing Brigham Young University head football coach LaVell Edwards would recommend the University of Hawaii be extended an invitation to the Mountain West should that conference add a ninth school.

In town for this week's 55th annual Hula Bowl on Maui, Edwards said he believed the program had a lot to offer, including a potential spot for one of the Christmas Day football games at Aloha Stadium.

"I would hope the Mountain West would be interested in adding Hawaii," Edwards said. "That would be my recommendation because we need a ninth one in football, and that's what I'd like to see happen.

"I don't know when expansion will take place, but I think it will be sooner than two or three years. You need that four at home and four on the road in conference. We don't have that right now, and it makes scheduling difficult."

He also feels the university provides an excellent travel destination and is a solid recruiting tool for the eight current members of the Mountain West, that includes San Diego State and Nevada-Las Vegas.

"I'd think it would be a natural," Edwards said. "It would be good for us and good for the state of Hawaii. But I don't know what people are thinking. It's hard to say what will happen."

Utah head football coach Ron McBride, who is serving as assistant coach with Edwards this week, didn't have as ringing an endorsement for Hawaii. He believes Fresno State is also under strong consideration and offers not only a good football program, but a strong team in men's basketball as well.

UH head coach June Jones already has expressed interest in playing certain Mountain West programs. The door was opened with UNLV last year, and it's likely the Air Force Academy, which will play the Warriors this season in football, will be in Hawaii on a rotating basis with fellow military schools Army and Navy.

"One of the things I regret most is not having Hawaii on our schedule these last few years," said Edwards. He replaces former UH offensive coordinator Paul Johnson as a Hula Bowl assistant coach. Johnson opted not to coach this year because he's recruiting at Georgia Southern.

"We had some great games with the Rainbows at Aloha Stadium," Edwards said. "We always looked forward to playing Hawaii there because we knew it was going to be an emotional game. I know we want to play Hawaii again, but right now, I don't think they're on the docket yet. I know they've been talking about it. There's a possibility they might, but it's still pretty far off."

Edwards said he understood why outgoing Hawaii president Ken Mortimer was upset when the eight Mountain West schools bolted from the Western Athletic Conference nearly three years ago.

Since the split, both conferences have had their moments. But a key ingredient for the Mountain West is the exposure provided by ESPN for football and men's basketball. The WAC has a sketchy relationship with Fox Sports.

Still, Tulsa University advanced to the Elite Eight in men's basketball, San Jose State was one of eight teams in the College World Series and the UH Wahine represented the WAC at this year's Final Four in volleyball.

"There were some hard feelings and I can understand that," Edwards said. "I can appreciate that, at the time, but I would hope they can get that out of the way now. And I think they need to get back to playing each other. That would be a great game for both of us."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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