Memo to Hawaii Lovers: Strength of Schedule Matters

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Memo to Hawaii Lovers: Strength of Schedule Matters

IconEnough is enough. 

In the last few days, we've seen every Strength of Schedule-ignoring, sandal-wearing Hawaii apologist under the island sun show up at Bleacher Report, crying out that the Warriors deserve BCS title consideration.

It's time somebody said something.

If I run into one more Kool-Aid drinking nut who thinks that the team that barely put away a Nevada-Reno Wolfpack squad that may as well have had Lieutenant Dangle calling the plays on Friday night should be playing in New Orleans in January, my head might explode. 

Before this rant spins out of control, let's take a moment to respond to Ryan Fritsche's article, titled, Memo to Hawaii Haters: Beware the Warriors. 

Ryan writes...

"What is it about the University of Hawaii that turns off the human voters and the computers?"

Should be obvious, but we'll get to that in a second. 

"Is it the Polynesian heritage?" 

Why even suggest that? Did anyone suggest that LSU got shut out of the BCS title game a few years back because of their Creole heritage?

Or—to bring up a team that everyone is comparing to Hawaii this year—did anyone suggest that Boise State got shut out of the title game last year because of their potato-farming heritage?  

Methinks no.  The Polynesian comment is just another way to build a wall of excuses for why Hawaii gets not respect when it comes down to one simple fact—which I'll address in just a moment.

"Is it blond-haired boy wonder Colt Brennan?" 

Colt seems like a nice kid.  And perhaps a better QB than Timmy Chang, who put up similarly gaudy numbers for Hawaii against similarly crappy competition a few years back. 

In fact, I'm pulling for Colt and think he deserves some Heisman consideration in a crowded and confusing year for the award (which it wouldn't be if Tim Tebow weren't looking to get shut out because of his sophomore status—you wanna talk about unfair standards, look no further than Tebow.) 

So why would having a standout QB running up the score against soft defenses be held against a team's national title hopes? Could it be something to do with a schedule full of crappy teams and no quality opponents to speak of? 

I think we may be getting close here, but let's take a look at one final question from Ryan:

"Or is it the fact that the WAC gets no love whatsoever?"

To be honest—and to steal a quote from Wet Hot American Summer—it is, and it isn't.

It's not that the WAC gets no love. It's the fact that the WAC hasn't made itself deserving of any love. It's the fact that Hawaii's opponents—a collection of mostly WAC bottom feeders combined with a couple D1-AA teams to boot—are a combined 29-76. 

To be perfectly and succinctly clear, no team with that strength of schedule should ever, ever, ever be considered a BCS contender.

Anything else to add, Ryan?

"If the Warriors played in the SEC, they might be the No. 1 team in the country."

Uh, yeah. And if I had co-starred in "Mr & Mrs Smith" instead of Brad Pitt, I might be married to Angelina Jolie.

If Hawaii played in the SEC, they could very well be winless in conference play.  Or did you forget that if Hawaii were in the SEC they'd have to play REAL teams like Florida, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, etc. instead of WAC-y jokes like Idaho, Utah State, and New Mexico State?

And to level with those Hawaii fans who have made it this far without just jumping down to the comment threads to talk trash: I can honestly say that I feel your pain when it comes to poor strength of schedule killing your team's shot at the title.  

As a USC fan, we shared a common opponent—the 1-10 Idaho Vandals.  That one game alone has been a drag on our strength of schedule all year, and combined with the piss poor performance of some other out of conference opponents—achem, Nebraska—could have seriously damaged the Trojans' title chances had we not lost to Stanford (a transgression, to be clear, which should automatically disqualify SC from any BCS conversation).

To get back to Hawaii, let's just put it this way: if one game against Idaho can dampen USC's strength of schedule, imagine what happens to a team whose schedule is full of opponents at or near the level of Idaho.  

You get an undefeated Hawaii team which has really been untested by a quality opponent (although a few not-so-quality opponents—La. Tech, San Jose State, Fresno State, and Nevada—have come close) ranked 15th in the BCS rankings. Which is, in this columnist's opinion, right about where they should be.

But fear not, Hawaii apologists, as all is not lost. The point of this column—other than venting—is to explain why, very simply, all the "What about Hawaii?" outcry is premature, given that the Warriors' only two quality games of the season have yet to be played.

This Friday, Hawaii takes on the team that everyone loves to compare them to, Boise State, in the WAC Championship.  Boise State is the first real test for the Warriors, as the Broncos have played at a similarly high level against similarly crappy competition, although they did have one slip-up early, incidentally to the team that Hawaii closes it's season against—

The Washington Huskies.

Granted, UW is no powerhouse—anything but, as they're currently stuck at the bottom of the Pac-10 standings.  But they did beat Boise State, as well as a Cal team which may have given up completely, but to Washington's credit were at one point ranked as the number 2 team in the nation.  

And more to the point, Washington is the one kind of team that Hawaii hasn't faced all season—an opponent from a major BCS conference.  Admittedly, not the greatest example of a BCS conference team, but at least a good litmus test to see where Hawaii's performance against the Idahos and Utah States of the world measures up.

One final point: A lot has been made about how Hawaii tried to schedule games against teams like Michigan State, Michigan, and Florida this year but was turned down—with the implication being that these schools were "scared" to take on the Warriors.  

Whether or not that's true, Hawaii fans need to face that facts that the BCS standings aren't based on the games you tried to schedule and couldn't—they're based on the games you've played.

And Hawaii's performance so far—though impressive from a pure aesthetic standpoint—doesn't really mean much of anything when you look at the teams they played against.

If the Warriors can get by Boise State and Washington, then this conversation will have some legs. They still won't be number 1 or number 2 in the country, but they'll at the very least have an argument for a BCS bowl bid.

But until they can prove their might against more legitimate competition, all this "Hawaii in the BCS Championship" talk will be just that—talk.

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