Aloha, Hawaii: Making the Case for the Warriors
Since I started writing here at Bleacher Report, I have been fortunate enough to receive mostly positive feedback.
I understand many things people write are controversial, but I have largely escaped the wrath of the regulars on this website. I can honestly say that I am thankful for the criticism, praise, and advice I have received.
What I am about to write is going to be quite unpopular around these parts, and I am going to get drilled for it. That's fine with me. I am not writing this to change anyone's mind.
But it must be said:
An undefeated Hawaii team would deserve to play in the National Championship game, regardless of other results.
Furthermore, most college football fans should be rooting for it to happen.
I have watched Hawaii play over the last several years. I used to enjoy the usual 11:00 PM games with Timmy Chang throwing strikes to Chad Owens, while June Jones and Jerry Glanville were on the sideline together, barking out orders.
Those teams were pretty good, but not great.
This year's Hawaii team is much better than any of the teams that Chang spearheaded.
Colt Brennan has proved that he is as good if not better than Chang—he is certainly considered a better pro prospect.
The receiving corps, while not boasting any individual player as dominant as Owens was, is far deeper than in previous years.
Games in Nevada and at home against Boise State and Washington will certainly test the Warriors, and wins against these teams would prove the Warriors' ability to beat good competition on a weekly basis.
Now, I know that the WAC is not the SEC or the Pac-10, and I would never argue that Hawaii should reach the title game over an undefeated team from a BCS conference—Kansas included.
However, I would have no issue putting in Hawaii over a one-loss BCS conference team.
If this season has shown us one thing, it is that no team is dominant. Last year Ohio State was a monster in the regular season. In 2005, USC and Texas showed the rest of the college football world how it was done.
The top teams haven't shown this level of dominance.
LSU lost to a Kentucky team that has been shown to be vastly overrated.
Kentucky showed up on the scene after beating a Louisville team that has since lost to just about everybody but Syracuse (oh wait...).
Since their program-changing victory over LSU, the Wildcats have lost to Florida (no shame there), been blitzed by Mississippi State (not a terrible loss, but not a great one), and barely held on to beat Vanderbilt.
Oregon lost to a Cal team that climbed as high as No. 2, but then let one mistake turn into a landslide in dropping to the middle of the Pac-10 pack.
Oklahoma blew a big lead against a Colorado team that has yet to reach bowl eligibility with only one game remaining.
West Virginia lost to an upstart South Florida team which has struggled mightily since its brief time at No. 2—and also had to hold on against the aforementioned Louisville Cardinals.
The Mountaineers' best win came against Rutgers, a team which has struggled all season.
Ohio State just lost to Illinois, showing the nation that the Buckeyes have yet to learn to defend the spread offense.
Let's face it: There isn't a powerhouse in college football this season. There are a lot of good teams, and maybe a great team or two.
Who's to say Hawaii isn't one of them?
Hawaii certainly hasn't played the schedules of some teams, but they haven't lost either. They have had close calls, as have the BCS conference teams, but each time they have risen to—and overcome—the challenge.
Looking beyond record and schedule, there are other reasons why Hawaii merits inclusion in the title game.
The New York Giants and Miami Dolphins showed what flying east for eight hours can do to a team on the football field. This is what Hawaii is up against every time they travel.
Earlier this season, when the Warriors had back-to-back road games against Louisiana Tech and UNLV, the team had to fly to Texas, then fly to Louisiana, then play their first road game of the year.
They struggled to adjust, and had to squeak out an overtime victory against a LA Tech team that should have beaten by more.
Once on the mainland and properly adjusted for a week, they handled an inferior UNLV team by a 49-14 margin—one week after Wisconsin came to Vegas and barely escaped with a 20-13 win.
Later in the season, Hawaii traveled to San Jose State and again struggled, winning another overtime game against clearly inferior competition. However, this game was played in weather that could best be classified as close to a typhoon.
Despite conditions that made passing difficult and footing even worse, Hawaii scored 42 points.
The next knock on Hawaii's schedule is that appearance of two I-AA teams. Hawaii started the season with one game scheduled against a I-AA team, which makes them no different than several BCS conference teams.
The second game came about as a result of having Michigan State renege on a trip to the islands. The Spartans apparently didn't feel like keeping their commitment—which was probably a good thing for MSU, because even with their 4-0 OOC record, it still took them until last weekend to reach their sixth win.
As a result of the Spartan cop-out, Hawaii was left asking anybody and everybody to play them, getting no takers. Thus, the Warriors were left with no options other than scheduling a second I-AA opponent...or only playing 11 games.
This situation illustrates a bigger issue for Hawaii's out-of-conference scheduling. Most BCS teams don't like playing many OOC games away from home—and even less so against non-BCS conference teams.
The unique problem for Hawaii is that the travel makes it impossible for them to schedule many OOC road games. Between the logistical and financial issues—never mind that little hiccup called class that the players have to attend—Hawaii is at a competitive disadvantage.
And the Warriors have still won all of their games.
Nevada will pose a legitimate test on Friday night, especially since Colt Brennan's availability for the game in doubt. Hawaii would then have to defeat Boise State—who you may remember as the only team in the country last year to go undefeated.
Any team that goes through that conference undefeated deserves a chance to play in a BCS game—and in this crazy, upset-filled season, there's no reason not to give Hawaii the chance to pull the biggest upset of them all.
While I believe that Hawaii is deserving of the spot, there's another reason why their appearance in the championship would be good for football:
With the constant public outcry for a playoff, or a plus-one, or anything that isn't the BCS, Hawaii reaching the title game would be golden.
How many controversies have there been since the BCS was introduced? After Oregon got jobbed, not much changed. After USC finished the season No. 1 in the polls and No. 3 in the final BCS standings, tweaks were made.
Even an undefeated SEC team being left out of the championship wasn't enough to make the powers that be admit that it might be time for a new system.
But a non-BCS conference team in the title game?
That's enough to make them cringe.
The BCS was created for the big boys to get paid—not for the party crashers to get a cut of the check.
When the little guys rose up and demanded a fairer system, the BCS relaxed their standards...then promptly added another game to make sure that it didn't come at the expense of a BCS conference team.
They said to the small schools, "Fine, you can have one of yours in—but only if we get one more team in there too."
Only an appearance by a team like Hawaii or Boise State in the title game would be enough to force a change to the system—if only so that the BCS bigwigs can find a way to make sure it never happens again.
Then again, knowing them, they might just tinker with the BCS formula to make sure such an event would be a one-time phenomenon, perhaps by adding a bonus in the standings for any team that plays in a BCS conference.
Well, I guess we can all agree on something...
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