UH has its own
bowl dilemma

June Jones says the Warriors
won't play in the Hawaii Bowl
if his players can't get certified

Here's more evidence that bowl games and computers aren't a very good mix.

Hawaii coach June Jones told reporters yesterday his team won't play in the Dec. 25 Hawaii Bowl if UH's computer system can't provide grades quickly enough to get his players certified for the game.

Last year, no Hawaii players were certified to have passed at least six credits in the fall semester, which is a Western Athletic Conference rule for bowl game participation. School officials said the task couldn't be done because of the closeness of the end of the term to the Christmas Day game.

UH ended up getting fined $5,000 and losing quarterback Tim Chang for the first game of this season because it was later determined Chang had not passed six credits before last year's Hawaii Bowl, which he played in.

Jones said he believes the athletic department has done everything possible to improve the likelihood of certification. But when he was asked at his weekly news conference yesterday if he is confident certification will occur this year, he answered, "No."

"If there's a computer failure and they come to me and say we don't have the grades then we won't play the game. It's going to go right down to 48 hours before. If there's a glitch or whatever, we won't play the game. It's as simple as that," Jones said. "That's what I've decided. I'm not going to play. Everybody's ineligible (if they aren't certified). Precedent has already been set. I'm not going to take a chance and forfeit everybody next year.

"Everybody has done everything they can to get it done," Jones added. "And I anticipate it will. But I was told one thing. If the computer freezes up or locks up and they can't get them, we've got a problem. If that happens, we're not going to play. It's the rules. We can't play them if we don't have the grades."

WAC commissioner Karl Benson declined to comment when asked what might happen if UH pulled out of the game.

"I will say I'm confident the UH administration will be able to comply with the WAC rules," Benson said.

Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier said the school is better equipped to certify the players this year.

"The institution has put many things in place in order for us to be eligible and have our athletes certified," he said. "Our people have been working on it all along."

Frazier said grades will be checked beginning Monday (classes end tomorrow), and monitored up to official posting on Dec. 23 to get as many players cleared as early as possible.

Jones was asked if he has players who are at risk of not meeting the requirement.

"Yes I do. I can't comment on them," he said.

Sources close to the team have told the Star-Bulletin at least three starting players might be in jeopardy of not meeting the six-credit standard.

Second-year freshman left guard Samson Satele said the players aren't being asked for too much.

"It's only six credits. That's only two classes out of four or five classes. I don't know what's hard about passing two classes," Satele said. "It's all on the players. It's not the computer's fault or the coaches' fault. Just take care of the grades."

Junior wide receiver Britton Komine said he is confident the certification process will run smoothly and the Warriors won't have to worry about skipping the Hawaii Bowl.

"I doubt (a problem) will happen, but there's always a chance," he said. "That would be junk for all of us, but especially our seniors."

Senior defensive end Travis LaBoy said the players are aware of the situation.

"Me personally, if there's a glitch I think everyone should be eligible. That's just me. Because I'm a player I don't want anyone to not be eligible to play in the game," LaBoy said. "All the players know you need to have your credits to play. So everyone's concentrating on that now."

Frazier said he thinks Jones is "frustrated by the events from last year."

"Whenever you qualify for postseason you want to go into that game with all your players and everyone certified and ready to compete," Frazier said. "Last year is exactly that. Last year."

Defense represented: UH had only one representative, junior receiver Chad Owens, on the all-WAC first team. But the defense was well-represented; Player of the Year LaBoy was joined by senior tackle Isaac Sopoaga and senior defensive backs Hyrum Peters and Kelvin Millhouse.

LaBoy said he felt two other teammates should have made it.

"(Senior tackle) Lance Samuseva and (junior defensive back) Abe Elimimian," he said. "You got one guy covering receivers for me all game and the other one taking on double teams for me. I can't accept credit without letting it be known that they are the ones that deserve it as well."

Jones agreed.

"I thought Abraham Elimimian was the best corner in the league. Certain guys that are underclassmen aren't chosen," Jones said. "It's unfortunate, but Abraham will get his due when they evaluate tapes this offseason. But I'm proud of Kelvin, and I'm proud of the rest of the guys."

Settle it here?: In a perfect world, the winners of the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl would play each other for the national championship -- in Hawaii, Jones said.

"If anybody could offer the winners a game right before the Pro Bowl here, maybe Hawaii could benefit from another game. If you've got any promoters in the area maybe they should jump on that," Jones said, sounding only partly tongue-in-cheek.

Jones is among those who believe a playoff system is needed to determine a college football champion each year. As for this season, he's convinced Southern California is the best team in the land.

"It's still my belief they're the best team in the country and they would beat whoever they play," Jones said.

QB II: Jones said his plan is to play both Jason Whieldon and Tim Chang in the Hawaii Bowl. He won't name a starter yet -- and it's not to make Houston work harder preparing for two different quarterbacks.

"I don't think it affects their game plan," he said. "We do the same things in our offense, it doesn't change when one's in there. I don't think they have to do two thought processes."

2004 campaign: Don't shelve the Chang for Heisman campaign yet. Jones said the goal of name recognition for the junior was attained, and that Chang being booed and benched against Alabama and not starting against Boise State actually added to his notoriety.

"It's funny how things work out. He got more exposure not starting this game than had he started the game," Jones said. "They talked about him the whole way. When he came in he threw some shots. And now, going into next year, if he has the year I think he's capable of having he'll have a shot at it. It probably worked out better.

"You guys can laugh all you want. That's what the plan was."


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