Pac-10 always welcome
With any luck, tomorrow's University of Hawai'i football game with Washington State will produce the largest crowd of the season so far at Aloha Stadium.
A lot of that, of course, has to do with the emergence of the offense around quarterback Greg Alexander, the Warriors finally edging above .500 and having the opportunity to clinch a bowl berth with a victory.
But it is also, in some part, testament to playing a Pac-10 team here.
The conference has a certain cachet hereabouts, whether the representative be powerful Southern California or lowly Wazoo. Even at 2-10, the Bottom Ten-ranked Cougars enjoy a level of prestige not accorded many others on the Warriors' schedule in this or most years. You see it in recruiting and at the box office.
Which is why it behooves UH to put strenuous effort into not only continuing to schedule additional games with the Pac-10, but in seeking a wider menu of them.
This year, with some luck — and if either UCLA or Arizona State can manage to get their acts together long enough to win two games in a row — UH could just possibly play three Pac-10 teams: Oregon State, WSU and somebody, anybody, in the Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl.
But that is very much the exception rather than the rule.
Consider, for example, that UH has not played UCLA since 1939. It hasn't suited up against Stanford since 1972. Arizona has been on the schedule once in 30 years, likewise for Arizona State in the regular season. Oregon and California haven't been on the schedule in 13 years. By 2011, UH may well have seen more of Charleston Southern than most of those Pac-10 teams in the UH players' lifetimes.
UH is scheduled to play one Pac-10 team in 2009 (WSU), one in 2010 (USC), two in 2011 (WSU and Washington). But none is on the so-far announced schedules thereafter.
That's too bad on a lot of fronts. For one thing, they are good for not only ticket sales but boosting the perception of UH and in recruiting here and away. Prospective recruits want to play the teams and conferences they see on TV and fans want to see those kinds of opponents in Halawa. For another, it makes more financial and competitive sense for UH than going five or six time zones or bringing some far-flung opponent here.
It has long been the dream here to someday see UH in the Pac-10. It is far-fetched to be sure and not likely to happen in some of our lifetimes, if ever. But that doesn't mean UH shouldn't take aim at trying to build a bridge there, lifting itself in the process.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 525-8044.