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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 9, 2003

UH vs. Fresno spawns trash talk

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

The football rivalry between Fresno State and Hawai'i has produced a page-turning storyline in recent years. But the supposed side stories have become (urban) legendary. There have been tales of trashed planes, misplaced playbooks and the North Shore conspiracy.

Here's an examination:

Urban legend: Fresno State players trashed an Aloha Airlines jet on the charter flight from Fresno to Honolulu in 2001. A local television report, which was picked up and circulated nationally, claimed the Bulldogs left trash and unfinished Coca-Cola cans on the floors and between the seats.

In defense: "There was no trashing of an airplane," said coach Pat Hill, who insisted the crew never complained to him. Hill said each of the 120 members of the traveling party received two bags of lunches, and any trash was a result of the bags not being picked up by the flight attendants. He said he knows there were no scattered soda cans because "I don't let our players have Cokes on airplanes. All we have is water and Gatorade."

Conclusion: Fresno State was never billed for any damage. For this year's game, the Bulldogs are traveling on Hawaiian Airlines.

Urban legend: According to members of UH's previous coaching staff, after the Bulldogs lost in 1997, the following summer, Hill tied a UH helmet to his car, then dragged it around a Fresno parking lot.

In defense: "I'm not a clown," Hill said of the story. "That's a bunch of baloney."

Conclusion: Despite the humiliation of losing to a Fred vonAppen-coached team, it is unlikely Hill would carry a grudge that long.

Urban legend: The Warriors sneaked a peek at a playbook left behind by a Fresno State player on the charter flight in 2001.

In defense: With the plane landing in a high-security area away from the main terminal, it is unlikely an employee, two months after the 9/11 attacks, would be able to smuggle away the playbook.

Conclusion: "It's their own fault if they're not smart enough to hold on to their books," Hill said. "That's not why we lost. We didn't make enough plays and Hawai'i did."

Urban legend: A screwdriver narrowly missed hitting UH coach June Jones as he walked off the field following the Warriors' victory in Fresno last year.

In defense: One theory is the screwdriver was dropped by an equipment manager, who had used it to tighten helmets.

Conclusion: Fresno State athletic director Scott Johnson issued a public apology and the school essentially pleaded no contest to the accusation.

Urban legend: The Bulldogs complained that the police escort did not show up for their pre-game drive from the Turtle Bay Hilton to Aloha Stadium in 2001. What's more, they charged, the driver intentionally drove slowly.

In defense: Have you ever been in rush-hour traffic on a Friday afternoon in Hawai'i?

Conclusion: The escort did not show up and the Bulldogs did arrive late. For reasons other than the traffic, UH athletic director Herman Frazier turned down ESPN's offer to move Saturday's game to a Friday night.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8051.