Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

It’s hard to keep bowl
off fans’ minds

NOW is the fun part. For the fans. Yes, with four games left on the schedule, June Jones will do his best to ignore the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl.

"The only reason the bowl game even comes up is because you guys ask me about it," he said yesterday to us media types. "Our players, I'm sure they didn't even think about it. If you hadn't said anything they wouldn't even know."

Personally, I blame Jim Donovan and that big postgame ceremony at midfield. The secret was pretty much out at that point. But let's not quibble. I digress. This is the fun part. This is the exciting part. This is the dream come true for Hawaii football fans.

Bowl time!

There's always a special feeling for fans of a team that hasn't been to a bowl in a while when it becomes apparent that an invitation has been locked up. It's a great feeling. It manifests itself in many ways. Relief. Joy. Tears. The sudden urge to throw some kind of fruit onto the field.

Then there is the yelling: "Yeah, baby! We're going to the (insert name of sponsor here) Bowl!"

And then they lose themselves in anticipation, dreaming of a few days in the sunshine, looking forward to the excuse for a little vacation, a warm ray of light in the middle of an otherwise cold, cruel winter.


Oh, right.

Well, there are the travel plans, then. One of the most enjoyable parts about bowl bids is looking forward to the bustle and excitement of following your team across the country, of the cities and the sites and the sights. Road trip! Alumni groups get involved. Travel agents jump into the fray.


Oh, right.

Well, I hear TheBus has an excellent Hawaii Bowl travel package.

Well, how about this -- the knock has always been that UH football fans don't travel. Now 30,000, 40,000, dare we say it -- dare! Dare! -- perhaps even 50,000 fervent Hawaii followers could make the trip to this one.

They say Halawa is beautiful that time of year.

I'm already dreaming of Salt Lake Boulevard.

I can just imagine, before the bowl game, the parking lot filled with Hawaii fans! They'll take over the bowl site!

It'll be just like a Hawaii home game!

Now, some people may tell you that the upcoming Hawaii Bowl is just another UH home game. That is not true.

There will probably be some form of commemorative jewelry.

And a snappy corporate logo.

The players will get to stay in a hotel.

And the traffic and parking ... well, that might be just like a UH home game.

Seriously, the ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl will be a boon for the UH program this season. TV exposure -- good. ESPN -- good. Christmas Day time slot -- good.

Travel expenses -- good.

ConAgra Foods sample pupu platter -- good.

It will be fun, it will be a good experience for the players. It will showcase Hawaii and UH football to a nation that just ate Christmas dinner and is settling in for a long winter's nap. It will give UH football something to brag about.

ESPN will personally see to it that Hawaii football is in everyone's stocking.

Everything the bowl boosters tell you is true.

And so is this: There were probably 25,000 in Aloha Stadium Oct. 19 for the Tulsa game and perhaps 30,000 for the bowl-clincher Saturday night.

Of course, those weren't bowl games.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at

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