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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 30, 2006

FOOTBALL
Pac-10 'quality' fit for Hawai'i Bowl

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

The NCAA's re-licensing of the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl last week for a fifth year gives the game an opportunity to open a new chapter, executive director Jim Donovan said.

After a Western Athletic Conference and Conference USA tie-in for its first four years, the bowl may take a qualifying Pac-10 team to play the WAC representative this year. Under the terms of its contract, the Hawai'i Bowl would get the sixth choice of bowl-eligible Pac-10 teams.

The NCAA's licensing of the New Mexico Bowl Thursday means the WAC's top two finishers will be guaranteed bowl berths and Hawai'i, if it is bowl-eligible by winning the requisite seven or more of its 13 games, would play in the Hawai'i Bowl. Last year, had UH been bowl eligible but not in the top two of the WAC, it would have been left out because the WAC only had two tie-in games the Hawai'i Bowl and the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise.

A victory over Division I-AA Eastern Illinois on Sept. 30 will count toward the seven win mark for UH, officials said.

A Pac-10 team that plays 12 regular-season games could come with a 6-6 or better record under terms adopted by the NCAA, since it is a contracted game for the conference.

Donovan said the Pac-10 is "excited about renewing their relationship with Hawai'i" for the first time in six years. The conference had tie-ins with previous post-season games in Hawai'i, the Aloha and O'ahu Bowls.

"The WAC is really looking forward to renewing a bowl relationship with the Pac-10," WAC commissioner Karl Benson said. "The Pac-10 should also provide Hawai'i fans with a team they have seen before and are familiar with. All in all, this really provides both the bowl and the WAC with a quality game."

With the potential of a Pac-10 team, Donovan said, "we want to use the opportunity to grow the bowl. We've had a great first four years, but we really want to go to the next level, so we are going to focus on getting more corporate support behind the bowl game."

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.