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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, January 22, 2001

H U L A _ B O W L

Hula Bowl

Maui wants
Hula Bowl deal
through 2008

With NFL getting more involved
in scouting and drills, more top
players may be willing to come

By Paul Arnett

WAILUKU, Maui -- Mayor James "Kimo" Apana wants to keep the Hula Bowl on Maui through at least 2008.

American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff would like a similar deal.

Over the next couple of months, the goal for Hula Bowl chief operating officer Lenny Klompus is to get both factions to sign on the dotted line and to keep an eye on a possible title sponsor should decide to end its relationship after next year's game.

"To me, this is the best Hula Bowl we've been involved in," Teaff said after Saturday's 55th college all-star game, which Kai won by overcoming a 16-point deficit, 31-23.

"It was the best show, the best players and another great Maui crowd. I know these coaches for the different divisions love being out here, coaching with the big boys.

"Look up in those stands. Hardly anyone has left. This is why we brought the game over here because these fans love their football. I can't think of any reason why we wouldn't stay involved in the game. We'll have to discuss it with our board. But we're very happy with how everything has worked out."

While the talent level may not be quite that of the other all-star games, it has steadily improved over the last four years. Quarterback Drew Brees and Miami of Florida cornerback Leonard Myers are projected first-round picks. Most of the other players will likely go in the mid to late rounds.

But now that the Hula Bowl has incorporated the National Football League into the daily workouts -- including filming the practices, answering questionnaires and running certain drills -- it should help them compete with the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine game.

"We've also worked out a much better relationship with the Senior Bowl," Teaff said. "Last year, we had 20 players who said they were coming to our game, decide to go to the Senior Bowl, instead.

"Some of the agents and the coaches told those players that their word didn't mean anything, that they could break the written and verbal agreements that they had with us. That's not only dishonest, but unethical. This year, we only had one."

Teaff said the word is out on the mainland that this is not only a game where the scouts get a good idea of what a player can do, but it's also a fun place to be. Like in recruiting, the players taking part in the games are the best ambassadors.

"I had one of the best weeks of my life," Brees said. "We came back to win the game, we got to stay in a beautiful place and we were able to visit with the NFL scouts. It's a great situation all the way around."

Teaff believes cementing a relationship with the NFL is the key to future success.

"If you can get a similar look here from the NFL that you can get at the other college all-star games, then where would you rather come," Teaff said, then smiled. "More and more players and coaches are turning to this game because of the entire experience."

Not having to work on three games as in the past allowed Marcia and Lenny Klompus to make this year's event special on several fronts. The pregame show, featuring 500 hula dancers, got the crowd in the mood for the game. The postgame show was equally entertaining with Cher and Janet Jackson impersonators, and a fireworks display that sent most folks home happy.

"We were getting things in place up to the last minute," Lenny Klompus said. "I told our people that it takes as long to do it right as it does to do it wrong. We were arranging flowers and going to the hardware store late Friday night, so everything was just right."

The effort wasn't lost on Apana, who said before the game that everything looked good to keep the Hula Bowl on Maui.

"I hope they're making money," Apana said, "because they are giving the people of Maui a great show on several fronts. We love having it here. You see how the people of Maui have responded to it the past four years. We helped save one of the great events in Hawaii. Hopefully, it will be here for years to come."

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© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin