Schedules pack punch for ’Bows
The scary part about the vision of the University of Hawaii football team missing out on bowl eligibility isn’t just what it says for this season but what it might portend for the near future.
In absorbing their seventh loss in 10 games this season Saturday night against Fresno State, (with two games remaining) the Rainbow Warriors are losing out on what had lined up as their best shot at bowl eligibility for several years to come.
After all, if you can’t crack at least .500 against what the NCAA ranks as the 115th toughest schedule (out of 131 schools) this year, what does that say about your chances next year — or 2019 and 2020 — when the schedules have the potential to be more arduous?
What it suggests is that the hope that UH’s Hawaii Bowl return in 2016 had engendered is now replaced by concern and urgency looking forward on a couple of fronts. FUTURE SCHEDULES UH nonconference opponents 2018 • Navy • Rice • At Army • Duquesne • At BYU
2019 • Arizona
• Oregon State
• At Washington
• C. Arkansas
• Army 2020
• At Arizona
• AT Oregon As if the prospect of Colorado State playing SMU here in the Christmas Eve Hawaii Bowl, as some scenarios have it painted this week, isn’t enough food for thought.
Next year Army (8-2) and Navy (6-3) replace Massachusetts (3-7) and UCLA (5-5). Meanwhile, UH must cope with the departure of Diocemy Saint Juste, who will leave Manoa as no worse than the second-most productive running back in school history, and at least five senior offensive linemen.
But 2019 is where the schedules really force UH to step it up with games against Washington, Arizona and Oregon State. In 2020, UH goes on the road to Oregon and Arizona.
So, unless UH plans to make Arkansas-Pine Bluff an annual staple of its football schedules in the Pac-12’s place there is much work to be done and not much time in which to do it.
Nor has there been much to show for the much-hoped for improvement in the Mountain West Conference. Despite the MWC suffering through one of its worst seasons, UH is just 1-6 in conference.
In its five years of membership UH is 9-38 in conference regular-season games. And, at Aloha Stadium, where visitors like to moan about the demands of travel despite arriving by UH-paid charter, the ‘Bows are only 5-19.
Thanks heavens for the ineptitude of San Jose State (1-10) or it would be UH peering out the cellar door these days.
By comparison, 2017 offered what had seemed like a pretty wide window of opportunity for bowl eligibility. Especially when you consider the ‘Bows played just a 12-game schedule and had the benefit of two well-placed open dates.
Not that it ended up doing them much good.
Meanwhile you have to wonder what they are really thinking back in Charlotte, N.C., at the headquarters of ESPN Events, a division of the ESPN mother ship, that owns and operates the Hawaii Bowl.
Once upon a now-distant time it was feared that UH would become too common a fixture in its backyard bowl with six appearances in the first nine years. But after just one UH appearance (2016) in what will soon become a seven-year stretch how much longer is ESPN Events going to be willing to keep a light on for the ‘Bows?
ESPN has been cutting costs in many areas as it hemorrhages subscribers and as the owner and operator of more than a dozen bowls already, how many years without a UH presence driving the box office or a title sponsor is it willing to put up with?
The prospect of UH missing out on the postseason this year poses a lot of questions, few of them encouraging.