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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, October 22, 2007

Hawaii Bowl holds off invite so as not to 'bachi' Warriors

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

While the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl waits to see if it will have the hometown University of Hawai'i football team headlining its Dec. 23 game at Aloha Stadium, apparently so, too, are many would-be ticket buyers.

"Sales have been steady, but not impressive (as) people are waiting to see what is going to happen with the Warriors," said Jim Donovan, the game's executive director. "They want to see if the Warriors keep on winning every game."

Donovan said about 15,000 tickets have so far been accounted for through advance sales, corporate packages and conference obligations.

The Warriors, who are 7-0 and already bowl-eligible, would likely represent the Western Athletic Conference in the Hawai'i Bowl for the fifth time in six years unless they go undefeated and qualify for the Bowl Championship Series. To have a shot at the lucrative BCS berth and a $4.5 million payday, the Warriors would have to win all of their remaining five games, which could put them in either the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., or the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La.

In the past, the Hawai'i Bowl has offered UH an invitation immediately upon the Warriors becoming bowl-eligible. Last year, Donovan and game officials made the presentation on the field at Utah State. But Donovan said the game has chosen to wait this year.

"We didn't invite them (yet), because we are very cognizant of the fact they have a shot at a BCS bowl game and we felt the most prudent thing to do is let it play out," Donovan said. "We don't want to do anything to bachi the Warriors."

If the Warriors end up in the Hawai'i Bowl, they would likely play a team with four or more losses. Conference USA is contracted to provide a representative for the Hawai'i Bowl and all 12 of its teams have at least three losses. The C-USA champion is obligated to play in the Liberty Bowl.

However, there is a question of whether C-USA will have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all six of its contracted bowl slots. If it doesn't, the Hawai'i Bowl might look elsewhere, including the Big 12, Big Ten or Big East, which are so far projecting to exceed their eight, seven and five bowl slots, respectively.

"We're very hopeful the Warriors will play in a BCS game," said Donovan, a former UH offensive lineman. "Our view is that even though it would impact attendance this year and make our job more difficult, the bump in recruiting that would take place after playing in a BCS bowl would (help) our game the next four or five years."

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com.