ESPN taps UH football
The University of Hawai'i football team will have at least two and possibly as many as six national television appearances this coming regular season.
In releasing its preliminary ESPN/ESPN2 schedule yesterday, the Western Athletic Conference announced the cable network will show the Sept. 3 UH-Southern California season opener and the Nov. 25 UH-Wisconsin game.
Game time for the UH-USC contest remains to be decided, but it could be a 3 p.m. kickoff. The UH-Wisconsin game will have a 4 p.m. kickoff.
In addition, conference officials said other UH games could be chosen for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or SportsWest appearances.
"This is great for our program," UH coach June Jones said. "The (national) TV exposure has really helped us in every way. Who would have thought seven years ago we would have so many (nationally televised) games in a season?"
Jones said all of the UH players from "east of the Mississippi" became interested in the Warriors from watching national telecasts. "We don't actively recruit there," Jones said. "They see our games, and they call us."
The WAC expects up to 25 football games involving its teams will be shown nationally this season.
WAC officials said it could be several weeks before the rest of the lineup is announced. Moreover, ESPN can add games in the fall on two weeks' notice.
Among the possibilities, WAC officials said, are UH's games against Michigan State on Sept. 10, Boise State on Oct. 1 and Fresno State on Oct. 29. Also, they said, SportsWest and ESPNU will likely consider UH road games.
In an effort to protect local TV right's holders, the WAC is reportedly negotiating with
ESPNU to allow local carriers access its feed.
ESPNU currently is not available in Hawai'i. Spokesman Dave Vinton said Oceanic Cable "definitely wants to add" ESPNU to its programming. Vinton said Oceanic's parent company, Time Warner, needs to finalize a deal with ESPN.
"Hopefully, that comes down in time" for the coming season, Vinton said.