Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Drooling over chance
to leave the WAC

YOU really can't blame the entire state of Hawaii for foaming at the mouth whenever there's even a hint in the air at the possibility of conference realignment.

What's that scientific word? It's Pavlovian.

It's in our psyche now.

History has made us what we are.

It makes perfect sense, following UH's abandonment by the old WAC, the outrage of being deemed not good enough, of being left behind by a bunch of backroom schemers who were supposed to be old friends.

That one hurt. On a lot of levels, that one hurt. Perhaps the pain was best summed up by a university president who stomped around like a jilted lover.

Hawaii was.

And its fans found themselves looking around, in the new WAC, and seeing a room full of castoffs and unfamiliar faces, faces that were perfectly friendly, to be sure. But the old feelings just weren't there.

Rivalries take time, and the new WAC is starting to build a few. The new WAC is doing what it can. The new WAC is good in many ways.

But it just doesn't feel the same.

You can't institute chemistry.

Maybe the old WAC felt this new, too, when it was just starting out. But to quote a title in the "Young Adult" section, That Was Then, This is Now.

And sports aren't known for attracting patient people.

Perhaps, eventually, everyone would just get over it and move on. But part of the equation is that the ghost of the Mountain West Conference won't go away. The reminder is always there. What once was and could be looms over all.

And so does the ache to prove to the world that Hawaii is good enough, that it never should have been left behind.

So add to that atmosphere some June Jones swagger. And a little "anything is possible" from Evan Dobelle.

And before you know it fans are soothing their bruised egos by calling for entry to the Pac-10.

And with every rumor -- even if we have to start them ourselves -- Hawaii buzzes about the possibilities for conference realignment. Torn between wanting to rejoin familiar history with the schools that left UH out of the Mountain West, and with wanting to show them how wrong they were.

The Pac-10. Now that would show them. That would show the whole country where Hawaii should be.

(A word about that. Not going to happen. You can talk all you want about "vision" and "outside the box." But the power of positive thinking goes only so far. Ask Martha Burk.)

Now it seems the world might shake again and everyone has a conspiracy theory, and all the scenarios are fair game and all the hopes and dreams are hoped and dreamed. And all the old wounds are open again.

Administrations and coaches can talk about TV and travel and schedules and bowl revenues. But for the people of Hawaii this is personal. This is history. And this topic isn't going anywhere, not until the hurt goes away.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at


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