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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

UH football
UH-BYU game likely moving to Dec. 8

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

An agreement in principle has been reached to move the college football game between Brigham Young and host Hawai'i from Dec. 1 to Dec. 8.

UH president Evan Dobelle still must approve the deal.

"We want to clear it with the appropriate individuals first," UH athletic director Hugh Yoshida said.

Similarly, BYU associate athletic director Duff Tittle said BYU's top administrators also must be notified.

But a major hurdle was cleared when BYU officials were able to secure a deal for the game to be televised nationally on ESPN or ESPN2.

"It looks like ESPN is on board," BYU athletic director Val Hale said. "To my knowledge, that's pretty much a done deal."

BYU sought the date switch as the only way to still play Mississippi State. The non-conference game between BYU and MSU, originally scheduled for Sept. 15, was postponed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

MSU's only open date is Dec. 1; the Southeastern Conference championship game is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Two weeks ago, Hale asked Yoshida about the possibility of moving the UH-BYU game to Dec. 8. Yoshida balked at the request, but reconsidered when Hale said he would talk with ESPN officials. Yoshida and UH coach June Jones said they only would agree to move the game if it were televised nationally.

Without moving the BYU-UH game, Hale said, BYU would be forced to cancel its game at Mississippi State, forfeiting a $200,000 appearance fee and a chance to play a Bowl Championship Series team.

Because of the potential viewership — this will be the only Division I-A regular-season game on Dec. 8 — Yoshida and Jones do not object to moving the kickoff to as early as noon Hawai'i time.

Also, because BYU is arranging the game, it will fall outside ESPN's contract with the Western Athletic Conference, allowing UH to keep most of any potential television appearance fee.

"There's going to be some financial request on our part," Yoshida said.

But he said he will not make any unreasonable demands of BYU, out of respect for the Cougars' willingness to play this year's game on late notice after Iowa State dropped out as the Warriors' season-opening opponent.

"It's a special situation," Yoshida said. BYU officials "really stepped up and helped us fill our schedule."

Jones said the national exposure will help the program, as well as the seniors with pro aspirations.

The late date, Hale said, "will make the game seem like a bowl game. I think we can make it a win-win situation for everybody."