by Trevor Freeman
Before I get rolling, let the record show that my being a part of ten consecutive Waikiki bar crawls was a nonfactor in getting this column off the ground. In fact, I resent any implication that my love of Mai Thais, the hula, surfing and the hula had any bearing on the argument I am about to make.
As I sat watching the Kansas-Missouri game and listened to the announcers talk about Missouri and West Virginia now having the inside track on the national championship game, I cringed. It wasn’t just because college football is about to have a showcase game that will rival the Chicago White Sox-Houston Astros World Series as the least watched major sporting event in history. It is because I watched Hawaii play Boise State the night before in a game that pitted two teams that looked to my eye to have more speed on the field, more weapons on offense and a more creative offensive style. It is because the winner of that game is still undefeated. And it is because the winner of that game has no shot of playing for the national title. And that my friends is just as absurd as Flavor of Love being greenlighted for a third season.
There are three key factors that have to be weighed when evaluating a college football team in my opinion. The first question I always ask myself before pondering a squad is, “how many players on this team will play in the NFL at the skill positions?” In Hawaii’s case, you have at least three players at the offensive skill positions that will definitely play on Sunday. According to most mock draft services, Colt Brennan is ranked no lower than fifth in terms of available quarterbacks in the 2008 NFL Draft. Receivers Jason Rivers (#24 receiver in the 2008 Draft class on NFLDraftScout.com) and Davone Bess (#14 receiver in the 2009 Draft class on NFLDraftScout.com) are also mortal locks to make an NFL roster. There is another receiver in Ryan Grice-Mullen who may also wind his way into the NFL and freshman running back Kealoha Pilares is somebody to keep an eye on.
The second question I ponder is, “which coach would put together the better game plan with a month and a half to prepare?” There is no doubt in my mind that if you gave June Jones forty-five days to prepare for a team like Missouri, West Virginia or Ohio State that he would come out with an offensive game plan that would eat them alive. With Brennan’s arm and his speedy receiving corp., I think Jones would hatch a plan that improves on the 47.1 points per game that the Warriors already put up. Jones along with Mouse Davis are generally regarded as the fathers of the Run and Shoot offense. In three full seasons as an NFL coach, Jones led the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs once and at Hawaii he has been an unmitigated success. June Jones is such an offensive wizard that he was even able to finesse a 4,143 yard and twenty-four touchdown season out of Jeff George. Ponder that for a second. That would be like some director coaching Tom Green to an Oscar nomination or some producer coaxing a Grammy Award winning performance out of Ashlee Simpson.
The final factor is “if you were down to your last five dollars and had to bet, who would you bet on?” In my opinion, Hawaii wins that hands down over Missouri. After watching Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, I don’t think it is a stretch to think that a champion of the WAC with legitimate NFL prospects at the offensive skill positions could beat somebody from the overrated Big 12. Ditto for West Virginia. I’m still not sure how the Big East has been a BCS automatic and the Mountain West and WAC aren’t. The argument gets dicey when Ohio State, Georgia or USC becomes involved. That being said, I think Hawaii stacks up when you compare them to other teams prominently mentioned as being BCS title game worthy.
We have all heard of the East Coast bias and I think that is real. Especially in sports with subjective polls like college football and basketball. Luckily for basketball they have the greatest playoff system in sports currently in place which balances out any poll bias. When it comes to football the East Coast bias can truly screw teams from the West Coast. With Hawaii, that bias goes one step further. Any voter located on the Eastern Seaboard has to make a sincere effort to catch one of their games and is basically voting on what they see in a box score. In my opinion that has been the biggest reason for Hawaii’s nonmovement in the polls and that is ridiculous. Not only should Hawaii already be in the top ten but Colt Brennan should be booking his plane reservation for New York so he can be in the audience when Darren McFadden is awarded the Heisman.
The proponents of the BCS argue their system is better than the NCAA Tournament because it places more importance on the regular season. That you have to run the gauntlet and the best team is generally rewarded at the end which is unlike a tournament system in which a hot team can bring home the title. If that is the case, then Hawaii playing for the national title should be a foregone conclusion. Everybody who supports this system yet doesn’t support Hawaii playing for the title should be given the title of hypocrite if Hawaii is left on the sideline unbeaten while two teams with losses square off for the national title.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at trevor.free[email protected]