I thought I would spend my Thanksgiving quietly stuffing myself with turkey, watching USC take on Arizona State in a game with potential Rose Bowl implications, and forgetting that there ever was even a question of whether Hawaii should play in the BCS Championship Game.
Well, I thought wrong.
I guess I'm just a masochist for criticism from delusional WAC fans (or a sadist, depending on which of my critics you talk to).
Most of this article started as a comment in response to a comment on my previous article, Memo to Hawaii Lovers: Strength of Schedule Matters.
After reading through my flowing paragraphs of brilliantly worded prose—err, I mean stream-of-consciousness (well, barely conscious) rant—I decided to grace the Bleacher Report faithful and the various Hawaii-favoring lurkers with a full article.
At the very least, I'm throwing up another lightning rod for more criticism of my staunch BCS-defending ways.
I'll be the first to admit: The BCS ain't perfect. But then again neither is Hawaii's record this year, despite the zero in the loss column.
Without further delay, let's get started throwing more fuel on the fire.
The following is an excerpt from an anonymous comment to my last Hawaii column:
"Alot (sic) of people talk about instituting a playoff system but in reality Hawaii plays one every year. Basically every year each game is a must win if they are to have BCS bowl hopes."
And that, my friends, is the most ignorant statement I've ever heard from a college football "fan."
Each game is a must win for EVERY team that has aspirations to a national championship. The only way to guarantee at least being in the running for title game (not even necessarily getting in—see Auburn a few years ago) is to win EVERY game.
The regular season is the playoffs for ALL teams. That's what makes things so exciting when you're good and so frustrating when you're just not quite good enough.
Have I BOLDED AND CAPITALIZED enough words to get my point across?
How do you think USC has consistently been in the national title hunt since 2002—by taking games off and hoping their reputation alone will get them in?
No—they did it by winning games each and every week under intense pressure and against real competition.
Once you slip up, you're done.
After a loss to Stanford, you don't hear SC in any national title conversations—and rightfully so. Same with Michigan after App State, OSU after Illinois, Oregon after Arizona, Oklahoma after Texas Tech, and so on.
Sure, this is a fluky year, and LSU is still perched at the top with one loss—but I guarantee you that if the Tigers lose to Arkansas or Tennessee/Georgia, they'll disappear.
It's that tough—you have to be perfect, or you have to get lucky waiting for other teams to fall if you want a shot in the BCS.
Warriors fans say Hawaii faces pressure that no other BCS team faces, that if they slip up once they disappear forever.
I say that's only because Hawaii's success is a mirage, built on playing inferior opponents with a flashy system that puts up a lot of points on bad defenses but wilts at the sign of real competition.
Heck, even Fresno State and Nevada gave the Warriors fits.
If Hawaii slips up—either in a bowl game or God forbid against a crappy Washington team—they'll be exposed for what they really are: a BCS faker with a paddy-cake schedule.
If that happens, they shouldn't get a second chance, because they'll have proved nothing—except that it's easy to go undefeated against what's basically a JUCO schedule and then make a lot of noise about playing in a big bowl game because "upsets happen."
Hawaii fans talk about not having a reputation to stand behind. Well, there's a right way and a wrong way to build a reputation.
The wrong way is the smoke-and-mirrors approach Hawaii has taken—which will doom them if and when they fall.
The right way is by building a winning program for the long haul—playing tough games, and embracing tough losses against better teams as the foundation of future success.
Look at Rutgers last year, South Florida this year before they fell off, and all the other examples of schools that started from scratch to build real substance—not just empty buzz and hype.
Heck, even SC was nowhere before Pete Carroll came in with a focus on offensive execution, defensive stinginess, and stellar recruiting. Carroll showed no fear in scheduling out-of-conference games, often on the road, to build up the program and its national reputation.
Win or lose, USC was ready to bring their game anywhere to prove they were back as a power.
And it worked.
I know Hawaii is trying to do the same thing with their attempts to schedule better opponents—and that's good. But all the crying about not getting any respect is only going to make things worse when and if they do get exposed.
Don't focus on this year—focus on the next five years, or the next 10 years, and on establishing a tradition of winning against high level competition in non-conference games.
This year can be one of two things—a mirage, or a sign of things to come.
If it's the latter, Hawaii will get its just desserts sooner or later.
If it's the former, this whole debate has just been a colossal waste of time.
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