NFL’s Christmas plans
cause Classic to move

The domino effect of the NFL's decision to play games on Christmas Day this season has reached the Hawaii athletic-department offices.

Rainbow Warrior associate coach Bob Nash said the Rainbow Classic will likely be moved up one day to avoid a Christmas Eve conflict with the Hawaii Bowl, which was played on Christmas Day the last two years.

"I've started the process and most of the schools didn't have a problem with moving the dates," said Nash, who handles the Rainbows' scheduling.

The UH football team played in the Hawaii Bowl the last two years. The game was moved to Christmas Eve when the NFL announced its schedule this week.

"We believe the 2 p.m. kickoff is a very good time slot," Sheraton Hawaii Bowl executive director Jim Donovan said. "In all likelihood, the game will be over by 5:30 or so, which would allow fans to do last-minute Christmas shopping and attend their family functions. We also think it will help attendance, since most people have that day off."

The 41st annual Rainbow Classic was slated for Dec. 21-24 at the Stan Sheriff Center, but will now be Dec. 20-23.

Alabama-Birmingham, Clemson, Georgetown, Indiana State, Long Beach State, Louisiana State and Southern California join UH in this year's field.

The tournament was last held before Christmas in 2001, when it was played Dec. 19-22. It has traditionally been held the week between Christmas and New Year's, but Nash said the tournament could find a permanent home the week before Christmas.

"We're trying to get the best possible teams and that way it gives them time to get back and get ready for their conference seasons," he said.

There is also hope that with ESPN in town to broadcast the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, the network might be able to tie in the Rainbow Classic final as well.

Nash said the pre-Christmas window could help the tournament attract television coverage in the future.

"We're trying to place ourselves in a time slot that best fits TV without compromising the tournament," Nash said. "We'd be able to get better teams if we have TV."

UH owns the television rights to the Rainbow Classic, and the school is not restrained by the WAC or ESPN from finding a TV deal elsewhere, athletic director Herman Frazier said.

"It's completely separate (from the Hawaii Bowl)," UH spokeswoman Lois Manin said.

There have been no discussions yet between UH and ESPN regarding this year's Rainbow Classic, Manin said.

"It's certainly worth discussing, but it's not my call," Donovan said. "There are a lot of football bowl games on ESPN, including replays that week, so a lot would depend on the time slot."

The Star-Bulletin's Dave Reardon contributed to this report.


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