Come Fly Away: Why a Trip to Hawaii Earns College Football Teams an Extra Game

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Come Fly Away: Why a Trip to Hawaii Earns College Football Teams an Extra Game

As college football fans, we want as many games as possible during the regular season, but why is it that when a team travels to Hawaii it is allowed to have an additional game?

As Hawaii is closer to the West Coast, we traditionally see their BCS opponents come from the Pac-10 conference. For example, this year the USC Trojans make the trip to Hawaii.

Geographically, this makes sense considering the distance between Hawaii and the mainland.

However, like most mid-majors, we have watched Hawaii take games all over the country. It makes the already difficult task for a non-BCS conference school to schedule one of the "big boys" to come to their house that much more difficult.

As odd as it may sound, considering most of the country wants to visit Hawaii, it is difficult to lure teams down to the islands. It simply comes down to economic factors, not to mention the normal strength of schedule issues that come with matchups like this.

For this reason Hawaii was not really welcomed with open arms to Division I athletics. The NCAA knew this and made an exception to the normal scheduling rules that would enable Hawaii to offer something in return to those schools making the trip to the islands. It is defined in the NCAA Rulebook as the following:

Rule 17.28.2 States Alaska/Hawaii, Additional Football Contest. Member institutions located in Alaska and Hawaii shall be permitted to exceed, by one, the maximum number of football contests permitted under Bylaw 17.9.5.1 but otherwise shall conform to the same maximum number of contests and dates of competition permitted other members of the Association.

This means if the team has a normal schedule of 12 games when they make the trip to Hawaii, they are permitted to schedule a 13th game. The logic behind this is that the revenue lost from making the trip to Hawaii can be made up in this extra contest. For the same reason, Hawaii is always afforded that extra game to make up for the travel expenses. This applies to out of conference as well as conference foes.

In addition to that rule, the NCAA has another exception set up for teams traveling to Hawaii in regards to the normal travel budgets set by 16.81.2.1:

16.8.1.2.1.1 Exceptions. These travel expense restrictions do not apply in the following circumstances:
(Revised: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/91)
(a) Travel prior to and following contests in Hawaii or Alaska; (Revised: 1/10/91 effective 8/1/91)
(b) Travel prior to and following contests in the 48 contiguous states for member institutions located in Hawaii or Alaska; (Adopted: 1/16/93)(c) Travel prior to and following regular-season competition that takes place during the institution’s official vacation period during the academic year or between regular academic terms; (Adopted: 1/17/09)
 

Even though the NCAA set up these exceptions to level the playing field, when Hawaii was really rolling recently under coach June Jones, he didn’t seem to think it helped all that much. "Teams don't want to make the trip anymore," Jones was quoted as saying. "They come here, we kick their ass, they go home."

The success of the program has taken a dip since Jones left, but it will always be a constant struggle for any mid-major program to schedule quality opponents. Even with the added rule exception, Hawaii still faces struggles when it comes to scheduling. It is not something that can’t be overcome—Hawaii has made a BCS bowl this decade—but it will continue to be an issue.

At least the NCAA made some sort of effort to encourage teams to play Hawaii in this case.

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