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Hawaii Football: San Jose State Is a Homecoming Game in More Ways Than One

Kevin RileyContributor IOctober 11, 2011

Hawaii quarterback, Josh Skinner, drops back to pass during a game against San Jose State at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 15, 1997. Hawaii lost the game 38-14 but has since won five games in a row at Spartan Stadium.
Hawaii quarterback, Josh Skinner, drops back to pass during a game against San Jose State at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 15, 1997. Hawaii lost the game 38-14 but has since won five games in a row at Spartan Stadium.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Honolulu, HI—The last time the University of Hawaii football team lost a game at San Jose State University, the Warriors were mired in the forgettable (or unforgettable, depending on your perspective) Fred von Appen era, and the blueprint to Hawaii's vaunted run-and-shoot offense was still two years away from being laid. 

Fast forward to 2011, and that hardly-epic 1997 battle between Western Athletic Conference cellar dwellers is a distant memory. Since losing 38-14 in front of 9,500 dispersed onlookers at Spartan Stadium, Hawaii has rattled off five consecutive wins at the venue dating back to 1999, and hopes to add a sixth on Friday night (3:00 p.m. HST, ESPN).

It will be San Jose State's homecoming game.

"Well I don't know if we own that place, but it is their homecoming," Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin said after Monday's practice. "You know who you usually pick for homecoming games, so they must figure they can beat us...Really that doesn't matter a whole lot to us. We're more interested in getting a win to go on to bowl games and WAC championships."

Since starting the season 1-2, Hawaii has won its last two contests while averaging 50 points and 503 yards of total offense. Now 3-2 (1-0 WAC), Hawaii is tasked with maintaining the momentum it developed against UC Davis and Louisiana Tech through one week of inactivity.

The Warriors had a bye this past Saturday while San Jose State lost a hard-fought contest at Brigham Young University, 29-16, dropping their record to 2-4 (1-1 WAC).

"Last year our bye week was after our 10th ballgame and it's good to get it at this time after five games because we had a lot of guys banged-up," McMackin said.

"They are a dangerous ball club...We've watched the BYU game. They played them really tough. Their main running back stayed out of that game [and] I'm sure they were keeping him out to play him in this game because of the importance of it...This is a WAC game and it's a step going to the bowl and it's on national (television), so both teams should be jacked up and fired up."

The ace up Hawaii's sleeve is special teams coach Dick Tomey. The well-traveled Tomey was head coach at San Jose State from 2005-2009 and is familiar with many of the players currently donning Spartan Blue and Gold for second-year head coach Mike MacIntyre.

"There's a lot of players I'm very familiar with, but a lot of those players have really improved a ton," Tomey said. "They're older [and] they're more mature; they were sophomores when I was there and now they're seniors. I think it just suffice to say, I have incredible respect for what they've done the last two years...and I have incredible respect for what they're doing on the field now.

"My experience in San Jose was incredible, it was one of the the great experiences in my coaching life and I appreciate it completely. I appreciate all the people there, all the people at the university, all the players, administration, all our friends. But having said that, we need a win [and] they need a win."

Tomey is credited with rebuilding a San Jose State football program that had been teetering on the brink of disaster for many years. In all honesty, it is still struggling to become financially viable in a tumultuous NCAA football landscape.

Shortly after Tomey accepted the head coaching position in 2005, the Spartans were penalized to the tune of 57 scholarships for their poor academic standing amongst student-athletes. Since then, the football program has improved its academic standing dramatically.

"I have great respect for what they've done," Tomey said. "They've come through a very difficult situation with the penalties they've incurred way back five years ago, and coach MacIntyre has got them playing hard, physical, tough football...they're very disciplined. We know it will take the best game we've played this year to win."

In addition to Tomey's connection with San Jose State, Greg McMackin also was a member of the Spartans football program from 1979-1983, serving as a secondary coach under then-head coach Jack Elway.

"I've always had respect for San Jose State, especially when Dick Tomey was coaching there. He did a great job, took them to a bowl game, turned their program around and they're doing a good job of coaching now," McMackin said.

"The whole nation is going to be watching and we want to show them what kind of program we have, and I'm sure San Jose State does too."

National Spotlight

Friday night's game at San Jose State will be televised by ESPN, marking the 56th all-time appearance on national television for the Hawaii Warriors, who are a disappointing 17-36-2 in those games.

Hawaii leads the all-time series with San Jose State 17-16-1, including last season's 41-7 victory over the Spartans in Honolulu.

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