September 17, 2007
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
Many pundits around the country say that Hawai’i, even if it goes undefeated during the regular season, doesn’t deserve a Bowl Championship Series game because of its schedule.
The Warriors, 3-0, played 1-AA Northern Colorado in their home opener, and now are playing 1-AA Charleston Southern this weekend at home. That’s one too many 1-AA games, but the experts need to know or understand that Hawai’i scrambled to get a game after Michigan State pulled out of a Honolulu game this season.
One can only imagine the trials and tribulations athletic director Herman Frazier went through to get a game on short notice, especially if it was a one-shot deal and not a home-and-home agreement. No doubt coaches weren’t excited about coming to Hawai’i given how good the Warriors are this year.
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“Whether it’s the WAC, Mountain West, Conference USA, Sun Belt or the Mid-American, a team that goes undefeated…I’m convinced that team will get to the top 12,” Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson said during the weekly WAC teleconference. “The system is set up to reward an undefeated team. I hope it doesn’t become an issue.”
Benson was asked how closely the conference office works with schools to help set up their schedules.
“We work closely with schools to do non-conference,” Benson said. “We get memos from our counterparts (in other conferences) about games. We got a call about Texas possibly playing a WAC team, and we relayed that information on.”
Benson said he is in more contact with basketball coaches in terms of scheduling. He said his stint on the NCAA Selection Committee is the reason for that. Coaches, including Nevada’s Mark Fox, will sometimes ask Benson if the schedule they have is enough to get them into the tournament.
WARRIORS CAN PLAY DEFENSE
When you think of Hawai’i, your first thought is Colt Brennan throwing 60 passes a game.
It would probably shock many to learn that Hawai’i is second in the WAC in defense and 34th in the nation under defensive coordinator Greg McMackin, who took over for Jerry Glanville this year.
“We’re happy he is back,” Hawai’i coach June Jones said. “He’s done a fantastic job. The kids have played hard for him.
“We’re doing lot of the same stuff (as Glanville did). We have gotten better; the team is more mature. Jerry had these guys as freshmen, and we were playing a lot of young players then.”
Linebackers Solomon Elimimian and Brad Kalilimoki, and defensive back Ryan Mouton have all played well for the Warriors, who are 3-0 for the first time since 1992.
Jones said his defensive unit has gotten their collective hands on a lot of balls, but haven’t been able to hold on, and he’s hoping to see more takeaways as the season goes on.
BSU PRESIDENT WANTS OUT
According to a recent story in the Idaho Statesman, Boise State president Bob Kustra said his long-term goal is to have his team eventually move to the Mountain West Conference.
In some ways, it makes sense. The conference travel certainly would be less stressful.
In other ways, it would be a bad move. The WAC ESPN contract helped put Boise State on the college football map, and the TV deal that the MWC has isn’t nearly as good.
It might be a lateral move. The WAC held a 7-5 edge last season, but the MWC is ahead 3-0 this season.
The MWC’s top tier isn’t as good as Hawai’i or Boise State, or even Fresno State during a good year. The MWC might be a little stronger overall, and Kustra, according to the article, is concerned about the WAC’s second-division teams . One has to assume he is talking about Louisiana Tech, Idaho and Utah State.
Nevada coach Chris Ault said he knew nothing about the statements.
“You’d think so,” said Ault when asked if that would be a lateral move for BSU.
Ault did say that the MWC schools are a little more well known compared to some of the WAC schools.
Judging by comments to the Statesman’s Web site, many fans would prefer that BSU stay put. One fan said that Nevada, Fresno State and Hawai’i would be considered ahead of BSU because of football tradition.
NO FUN IN SAN JOSE
The Spartans, tabbed by more than a few writers to finish in the top of the conference this season, are off to an 0-3 start, including a shutout at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal.
SJSU had very little time to grouse about the game or cry in its milk because coach Dick Tomey had his players on the field for a 6:30 a.m. practice session on Sunday.
“Practice was good; the players that were at the game were there,” Tomey said in his press conference on Monday. “I didn’t expect the guys that were not at the game to be there because they had no way of knowing about it. It was dead dark when we went out there and it was good.
” I think everybody felt good about being together. Rather than laying in bed feeling sorry for yourself, they were up working with their teammates and helping their team get better.”
San Jose’s first three games were on the road, and playing at Arizona State and Kansas State is no easy task.
“We have played three teams that are better than we are,” Tomey said. “The last team we played was coming off a bye. They had two weeks to prepare for us and as I have said, if you have a bye and you are playing at home you should win if you are playing an opponent that is anywhere near equal to you. To overcome that you have to play a lot better and we didn’t.”
REST FOR DEONTE?
Idaho running back Deonte Jackson leads the conference in rushing, but coach Robb Akey admitted that he has to make sure Jackson doesn’t get beat up so much.
The diminutive Jackson (5-foot-9, 181 pounds) ran for over 140 yards against Cal-Poly and rushed for 113 against Washington State last weekend.
“We’ll have to blend a little more in the coming weeks,” Akey said. “When you have a hot back, you like to let that (back) keep rolling. “
Akey said that Jayson Bird would be a good complement to Jackson, a redshirt freshman.
NO QB ISSUES AT USU – YET
Utah State coach Brent Guy said that Leon Jackson remains the team’s starter at quarterback following a lopsided loss to Oklahoma.
Jackson completed 9-of-14 for 65 yards. He was relieved by Jace McCormick, and Guy said that both quarterbacks will play this weekend against San Jose State.
Guy said that he will use McCormick at times because he runs the read option better than Jackson.
The Aggies’ third quarterback, Sean Setzer, could be redshirted.
“He hasn’t progressed like we thought we would,” Guy said. “He’s way behind.” That’s mainly because Setzer suffered an injury during fall camp and missed a week of practice.
New Mexico State receiver Chris Williams, Hawai’i linebacker Solomon Elimimian and Boise State return specialist Rashaun Scott were honored as the conference’s players of the week.
Williams, a junior, caught eight passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the Aggies’ 29-24 win over UTEP. Williams caught a 59-yarder and an 82-yarder, both for scores in the fourth quarter. The 212-yard effort was the sixth-best in the nation this year.
Elimimian, a junior, contributed a career-high 14 tackles in the Warriors’ 49-14 win over UNLV. The Warriors held the Rebels scoreless for a 48-minute stretch.
Scott, a senior, averaged 36.5 yards on two kickoff returns. His longest, a 52-yarder, came in the fourth quarter and set up a field goal.
The WAC trio of Boise State, Hawai’i and Fresno State have posted 115 wins since 2003.
The SEC trio of LSU, Auburn and Georgia have won 131 in that same period, followed by the Big 12 group of Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech (129), the Big Ten group of Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan (123), the Pac-10 trio of USC, Cal and Oregon (122) and the ACC group of Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami (118).
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
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