27 November 2007

The Case for Hawai'i

(From BCS Guru)

One win away. A victory over a 4-8 Washington team apparently is the only thing separating Hawai'i from a BCS bowl invitation. Destination: New Orleans.

I did say "apparently," didn't I?

The formula for Hawai'i seems simple. Win, stay in the Top 12 of the BCS standings, and earn a trip to the Sugar Bowl. But there are a couple of potential scenarios that are out of the Warriors' control. And if Hawai'i has to leave its fate to others, i.e. the BCS selection committee, then it has a lot to be afraid of.

First, let's discuss the two scenarios:

1. Oklahoma beats Missouri, Boston College beats Virginia Tech, LSU beats Tennessee, Arizona State beats Arizona. In this instance, there is a chance that Hawai'i might slide to No. 13, behind Arizona State, and Illinois might move up to No. 14, thus become eligible for an at-large selection.

2. Oklahoma beats Missouri, Boston College beats Virginia Tech, Tennessee beats LSU, Arizona State beats Arizona. In this case, it's possible for Hawai'i to drop to No. 13 after being leapfrogged by Tennessee, while Arizona State stays in the Top 14.

In either event, instead of being guaranteed a BCS berth, Hawai'i will have to vie for a spot with either Virginia Tech or Illinois. In Case No. 1, the Rose Bowl might take 3-loss Illinois should it loses Ohio State to the BCS title game, the Fiesta opts for ASU, the Orange Bowl takes Georgia and the Sugar Bowl goes for either 1-loss Kansas or 2-loss Missouri over an undefeated Hawai'i team.

In Case No. 2, Rose takes Kansas or Missouri, Orange takes Georgia, Fiesta goes for Arizona State, and the Sugar Bowl faces a decision: 3-loss Virginia Tech or Hawai'i?

I believe Case No. 1 is the worst case scenario for Hawai'i. If it comes down to Case No. 2, it should be a slam-dunk, Hawai'i should be the choice.

But what I'm saying here is if Hawai'i beats Washington, Hawai'i must be the choice. Whether it's 11th, 12th, 13th or 14th should be irrelevant. Whether the competition is Illinois or Virginia Tech, it should be irrelevant, too.

Aside from the BCS national championship game, the other bowls are really exhibitions featuring the best of the rest. And a Hawai'i team that goes 12-0 has to be considered among the nation's elite.

Forget about the strength of schedule. The non-conference schedules of Kansas and Ohio State are not appreciably better than Hawai'i's, yet both teams likely will have a place at the BCS table. The Warriors could've done better with their non-conference schedule -- and they did try, Jeff Anderson be damned -- but they cannot be blamed for the WAC slate.

While one can argue about Hawai'i's merits against a one-loss Kansas or a two-loss Missouri, there should be no debate about whether the Warriors are more worthy than a 3-loss Illinois or Virginia Tech.

There are a glut of teams that have lost three times this season, and when you have three losses, you do not stand out in any way. Illinois benefited from tying for second in a very weak Big Ten this season and its reward should not be a trip to Pasadena. Ditto for Virginia Tech should it fail to beat Boston College in the ACC championship game.

Last year, Boise State proved its doubters wrong by starring in perhaps the most memorable college football game this century. Lost in the dizzying array of trick plays that propelled the Broncos to victory in overtime was that they actually dominated much of the game against a physically superior foe.

Hawai'i should get a chance to at least duplicate that. With a record-setting Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, the Warriors have an explosive offense that's difficult to stop for any team. And New Orleans, a city famous for enchanting entertainment, should welcome the chance to host an extra Mardi Gras, instead of another run-of-the-mill big conference also-ran.

Besides, from a money perspective, the Sugar Bowl will make out handsomely anyway. It already has the BCS national title game and it should have no trouble selling out a contest involving either LSU or Tennessee. Getting an much-ballyhooed undercard involving Hawai'i is like having your king cake and eat it, too.

Or as they say in the Crescent City, it's just lagniappe.


Anonymous said...

Hey guru,

Can you think of any scenario where Hawaii goes to the Fiesta or even the Rose? The irony is that Hawaii would travel at least double the number of fans to those games as the Sugar. Note the huge numbers that traveled to Vegas in September. Is there any chance the bowls would do some horse trading and pick up Hawaii in the Fiesta or Rose?

A Hawaii Fan

The Zookeeper said...

The reason why Hawai'i seems locked into the Sugar is because it has the last pick and will be "forced" to take Hawai'i after the other bowls had their dibs.

All the bowls have conference affiliations and bowl money is of paramount importance. Nobody wants to piss off their BCS buddies by taking Hawai'i ahead of other big conference teams. And the perceived "prestige" is another reason. That's why when Utah and Boise State made it they both were the last picks. This year's order goes Orange-Fiesta-Sugar, and the bowls losing Nos. 1 and 2 will precede that.

Well, what I'm saying is, get out your map of New Orleans and dip into that bank account, because it's the Big Easy or bust!

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Patrick said...

Great article with thought provoking scenarios but the Heisman is based on this season's performance, not a career. Colt Brennan's full season produced no seasonal records and he's well behind several other QB's in passing stats.

If Hawai'i convincingly defangs the Huskies, they should rank #10 on Monday, insuring their going to the Sugar Bowl.

Anyone that's familiar with Hawaiian history will remember the struggles the Nation of Hawai'i had with the USA over sugar, most of our income was based on Sugar so it's fitting that our first major bowl should be the Sugar Bowl.


Anonymous said...

Hawaii will get into a BCS bowl, some other team will wipe the turf with them, and we won't be having this discussion again. Any time some ridiculously weak non-BCS conference team has a chance, this will be the game everyone points to as to why they don't deserve it.

pjal said...

Two of the "ridiculously weak" teams like Boise State and UH sent two "ridiculously overrated" teams like Oklahoma (Fiesta Bowl) and Arizona State (Hawai'i Bowl) home to lick their wounds at the end of last season? Or UAB that was humiliated by an even "weaker" UH a couple of Bowl games back?

Or shall we talk about Appalachian State?

Or shall we point at your memory as an example of why people like you shouldn't participate with serious fans?

free iphone said...

go hawai'i....shock the world! get it done tonight and it will be bigger than boise state.

Anonymous said...

I think the Sugar Bowl said what most intelligent football fans were thinking but were too polite to say - Hawaii is a very overrated team. Georgia competely shut down this "explosive offense". For anyone to say "forget about strength of schedule" when talking about national rankings is ridiculous. Hawaii's schedule included 4 teams that finished dead last in their respective conferences and their entire schedule had a combined winning percentage somewhere around .320. How can you possibly ignore that? They supposed to be 12-0 with that schedule. And Colt Brennan being a Heisman candidate is ludicrous for the same reason. You're playing 12 games against 2nd rate schools. If he played in the SEC, ACC, Big 10 or Big 12 he may not even get a starting job. And I'm sorry that Hawaii has a tough time getting teams to come there and play. For an East Coast team, that's a 10 hour flight away. Sorry, but that's the breaks. Enjoy the weather.

Patrick said...

I entirely agree, even though a UH Fan, that UH was overrated from Day One. That's an inherent flaw in the way which BCS is constructed.

However, that takes nothing away from Colt Brennan. Had he, for example, been playing on one of the major top tier teams, his skills would easily have kept him in the running as a Heisman candidate. He'd have had the benefit of a first class offensive line to protect him. That he played at UH instead of USC or another of the SEC, Big 10 teams would not have made him any less effective, in all probability, his performance would have been enhanced.

The Zookeeper said...

The way Hawaii played in the Sugar Bowl undid a lot of goodwill from Boise winning the Fiesta Bowl a year ago.

Brennan will be fine. Most of the loss, and the way they lost, fall on June Jones. The OL was getting killed by the Georgia rush, yet Brennan was still taking 5 and 7 step drops. That was the coach's fault.