Full Court Press


Monday, November 26, 2001

Hawaii hoping for a
new conference

JUNE Jones and Fisher DeBerry spent a little time before Saturday night's game discussing the future of the Mountain West Conference and whether Hawaii has any part in the play.

Despite sitting pretty in the middle of the Pacific with an 8-3 record, it's unlikely the Warriors will be invited to anyone's postseason party. You can blame the Western Athletic Conference for not having enough bowl tie-ins, cast your aspersions at Fritz Rohlfing for being the Grinch who stole Christmas or blame the bowls themselves for becoming too region-oriented.

Take your pick.

What Hawaii needs to do very quickly is assess its overall worth and see if anyone is interested in taking on an athletic program that has its good and bad points. The obvious choice is the Pac-10. People in power have been dreaming that dream here for decades. They see it as a natural extension of the West Coast, one in which all parties benefit.

But before taking that giant leap for mankind, perhaps it's better to see if the old friends from the Mountain West are still interested in more than a limited partnership. Talk of an eventual reunion has gone on since the nasty split.

Certainly Jones is interested in that possibility. DeBerry said after the 52-30 loss to the Warriors that he and Jones discussed it briefly.

"We really looked forward to coming over here again," DeBerry said. "I didn't look forward to getting my butt kicked the way we did. But it's good to finally play in Hawaii. The people are always very cordial, hospitable.

"Of course, it's a great experience for our players to come and enjoy the beauty of God's creation here.

"I don't have any control on Hawaii coming back to our conference. I don't know many coaches who do. We would like to have another team in our conference as I told June before the ballgame because it would make scheduling so much easier, rather than just having eight teams."

For that to happen, it's likely Hawaii will need BYU's blessing. The Cougars still rule, despite what the other seven members may say. Without BYU around, the Mountain West is just the WAC by another name.

In two weeks, the Cougars return to Aloha Stadium with a possible BCS bid at stake. It will probably be Hawaii's bowl game and will be a good measuring stick to see how far the Warriors have come since Jones took over nearly three years ago.

A victory for Hawaii before a possible sellout crowd and national television audience would give the Warriors instant credibility and maybe even a top 25 finish. If the Mountain West does decide to add one team, Hawaii and Fresno State appear the likely contenders, with the Warriors holding the inside track.

NEXT MONTH, UH president Evan Dobelle will meet with coaches to discuss Hawaii's future and which conference best suits Hawaii's needs. Jones is likely to side with the Mountain West for obvious reasons and may be in position to sway Dobelle's thinking, especially if athletic director Hugh Yoshida is asked to fall on the sword as many people on campus say will happen in the coming months.

If Jones steps in as athletic director, much like close friend John Robinson did at Nevada-Las Vegas, then it's likely Hawaii will make a strong push to join the Mountain West should that conference decide to add a ninth member.

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.
Email Paul:

E-mail to Sports Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin