Whatever the conference,
winning’s all that matters
JUNE Jones may be right. It might not matter which conference Hawaii ends up with.
"As long as we continue to schedule the Oklahomas, the Texases, the USCs, the Alabamas for non-conference, it really doesn't matter who we schedule in between to me," Jones said Monday. "Whatever the conference is, the WAC or the Mountain West."
Or the Western Sun Athletic Belt.
"We're going to have the same crowd whether it's Utah or Utah State," Jones said. "It doesn't matter."
No, in football, maybe it really doesn't.
Well, a few people might argue with that specific Utah-Utah State example. The hated Utes may stir up a little more passion at the box office than the hated we've-never-heard-of-thems.
(Yes, yes, I know Hawaii is 0-3 against Utah State. And we apparently will be hearing a lot more of them soon.)
And you've got to start actually playing the Oklahomas and the Texases rather than just talking about it.
But let's not dwell on small details. The point is Jones has a point.
If Hawaii really is serious about playing big-time schools it doesn't matter which conference serves as its home base.
In fact, as we've seen this year after 61-32 at USC, if you're going to play those big-time opponents, a weak conference schedule to come home to can serve as a much-needed break between Goliaths.
It doesn't matter how maligned your league is, as long as you win those games and show up against the big boys when you've got your chance.
The Florida State blueprint.
The Northern Illinois plan.
You've seen it happen every few years. Somebody small makes a run.
(And of course even then it doesn't matter which conference, because none of these outsiders is any better than the other in the insiders' eyes. There will be no breaking into a big bowl just because you are in the MWC rather than the WAC or the MAC. The ghost of 1984 still hangs over all mid-majors. There is a generation out there with voters' remorse. And a system in place to make sure it never happens again.)
What are the options, anyway? The Mountain West is not what it once was (and was it ever?). The new-new WAC (the WAC Belt) may be a step down from the current old-new WAC, (we're actually talking about a drop in football quality from Rice, Tulsa and SMU here). But really, nationally, who's going to notice?
The key is winning all of those games and scheduling up. The key is doing more against the Top 10 teams than getting a good TV rating.
Do that, and it doesn't matter what conference you're in.
The saying goes, "It doesn't matter where you play. If you're good, the scouts will find you."
A better geographic fit? That would be a dream come true (and maybe, with the possible addition today of the aforementioned Aggies and New Mexico State, it's a little closer to coming true). More money? Grab it if you can get it.
But if that falls through, you can still go a long way with a perfect league record and some big BCS wins.
See the Columnists section for some past articles.
Kalani Simpson can be reached at email@example.com