Monday, December 3, 2007

hawaii no ka oi.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

As you know, Hawaii’s beloved Warriors finished 12-0 and will be playing Georgia in the Sugar Bowl New Orleans on New Years Day.

They are the only undefeated team left in college football. And, yet, they were never among the teams being considered to contend for the national championship.

In the words of my Hawaii braddahs, “Eh, how you figgah?”

Granted, Hawaii does not play in a power conference. Yes, their schedule was relatively weak. But let’s look at this all logically.

They defeated all comers. Every single one. Sure, some games got close—but they never lost a game. You have pundits saying “LSU deserves to be in the national championship game because their two losses were in overtime”…and yet, UH is derided for their two ROAD overtime wins.

Hawaii should have beaten these teams handily” it was said. Fine, but they never LOST. They did something LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, USC…and no other team could do. And yet, we’re okay with that. It’s okay that these other teams lost.

It’s strange that Les Miles thinks his LSU team should be applauded for losing in overtime—he wears it like a badge of honor. UH, on the other hand, never lost an overtime game. They never lost a game. Let that sink in. A team with two losses is going to contest for the national title. A team with zero losses is not. Fair, right?

They didn’t play anybody. Nobody? Whose fault is that? USC balked. Michigan Michigan State pulled out of a game and paid to not have to play Hawaii. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. balked.

Half of their games are in Hawaii, it has been written. And half of LSU’s games are in Louisiana. Half of USC’s games are Los Angeles. Hawaii logged something near 40,000 miles this year. They spent two consecutive weeks on the road. Yes, teams have to travel to Hawaii—but for seven weeks a year, Hawaii is traveling—and traveling far. They play in a conference that takes them to Louisiana and Texas every year—these trips easily turn into an entire day of flying and sitting in airports. I’ve done it—believe me, it’s not fun.

The most simple fact for every team that thinks they have a legitimate gripe about not playing for the national championship is that they took themselves out of the position to do so. Hawaii did everything that a team should have to—win every game.

In what other sport can a team win all of its challenges—overcome every hurdle placed in its way—and not have a chance to play for the title?

Explain that to a kid just starting pee-wee sports. Tell him that he could win all of his games, but, sorry—you won’t play for the championship because the other kids you played weren’t good enough or didn’t play for the right team or that you just didn’t win all of your games by enough.

Does the BCS work? Of course not. The fix is a lot more difficult, though. Do I want a play-off? Of course I do. But how would it work? A play-off system with 16 teams would probably reduce seasons to eight or ten games.

This would probably force the collapse of all of the nation’s football leagues as we know it. Traditional out-of-conference rivalries (USC v. Notre Dame) would be lost if we decided to keep the conferences. Why would power conferences buy into a play-off system? It doesn’t pay them off—they’ll beat up on each other and have no chance to get into the play-off picture.

I honestly feel that if a play-off system is introduced, the big six conferences will break away from the NCAA. Pessimistic? No. Realistic? Yes. They know they could get huge television packages from ESPN. They don’t care about leaving the teams on the outside in the cold.

It pains me to acknowledge this. Yes, Hawaii has a ton of bandwagon fans (early in the year, Aloha Stadium went 3/5 full), but I know that I hail from a state that loves its Warriors—they’re the only show in town. I know how sweet this victory is—my dad and I attended every game when UH went 0-12 and lost 19 games in a row over the span of two years. The fact is, though, that my alma mater is one of college football’s most storied schools—and is one of the teams who would undoubtedly leave the NCAA if the BCS was dismantled.

Life isn’t fair. Obviously. The Sugar Bowl is the biggest thing that will probably ever happen in Hawaii sports history. I’m not overstating this one bit—I fully believe that, win or lose, this will be the pinnacle in Hawaii sports.

Something’s wrong, though, when a team can go undefeated and has to grit their teeth just to play in a game with a big payout—when a team can be perfect and still be unsure of their fate. The fact that the entire state worried that the team could have played in a Hawaii bowl game is sickening. The fact that the team was never part of the discussion to play for the national championship is just insane.

Does the system work? Yes—as long as your school has prestige, history and a perfect lineage. The BCS doesn’t take current form into account—it only considers the ghost of college football’s past.


I wrote the above post around seven hours ago.

I think now, and only now, is it really starting to sink in that Hawaii overcame the odds and did make it into a BCS game. Not only is it a dream come true--it's something I still think is impossible. I don't want to seem upset that they aren't playing for the national championship (what does it mean, anyway?), because I'm proud of the boys.

And ESPN had a great article on just how the BCS doesn't work. Woj just loves this Hawaii team--and rightfully so, because they've done everything asked of them.

And, according to ESPNation, the second-most desired match-up guessed it: Hawaii vs. Georgia. People want to see this Hawaii team in prime time.

3) Which BCS matchup is the most intriguing?

39.9%Ohio State vs. LSU
27.9%Hawaii vs. Georgia
18.7%Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
8.9%USC vs. Illinois
4.7%Virginia Tech vs. Kansas

My biggest question, though, is if Hawaii does pull of the victory, will they get votes for the number one spot? I know voters in one poll are required to vote for the winner of the BCS title game as the winner--but what about in the other?

If Ohio State wins, we have a one loss team, sure--but one that played a weak schedule in a weak Big 10. If LSU wins, we have a two loss champ (chump?).

I can see there being trouble with whoever wins the national championship game and if USC, Hawaii and Oklahoma win.

Forget it: there's gonna be trouble regardless--and rightfully so: the BCS is a sham. It doesn't make the national champion any less mythical or any more obvious than the bowl system that existed before the BCS' creation in 1998.

But that's not what I'm here about. I'm here to congratulate the Warriors. Really--this is about as improbable as the men's basketball team making the Final Four.

Congrats, boys. You reminded the country that Hawaii is a part of the Union and does big things.