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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 29, 2008

Resilience noteworthy considering UH's past

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

There are some milestones that you don't celebrate as much as you pay mind to and reflect upon.

Yesterday, the 10th anniversary of the University of Hawai'i's dark 0-12 football season, is one of them.

On Nov. 28, 1998, UH fell to Michigan, 48-17, at Aloha Stadium to conclude the worst campaign in school history. In any sport.

The loss extended UH's string of futility to a then-NCAA leading 18 consecutive games over two seasons (eventually reaching 19 over three), prompting louder calls for the school to drop football. Or, at least step down a division or two.

That is something worth considering tonight as the Warriors tee it up against Washington State, attempting to wrap up a third consecutive bowl berth.

With a win over the downtrodden Cougars, UH will be assured its eighth winning regular season in 10 years and sixth bowl appearance.

That the latest one would come after the administrative upheaval, coaching staff changes and wholesale player turnover that followed head coach June Jones' departure to Southern Methodist would be noteworthy.

It would, at the very least, be a statement about the resilience of the program and those who have carried on. Which, given the way things began both in January and in a 1-3 start to the football season, would be a significant message.

Now 7-5, which is what the Warriors would be if they take care of business against Wazoo (2-10), isn't going to rate the building of any commemorative statues. And there is still Big East Conference champion Cincinnati on deck to conclude the regular season.

But given all the storm-tossed program has gone through since the Sugar Bowl blowout and a schedule that includes at least six bowl-bound teams to date, it is where you hoped the Warriors would be at this point.

Too many times after a strong UH season and much less off-season intrigue UH hasn't made it to .500. Witness the 3-9 season of 2000 (following 9-4) and 5-7 flop of '05 (on the heels of 8-5).

Would you like to have the Utah State and San Jose State games back? Of course. But nobody saw the victory at Fresno State coming, either.

Remarkably, despite it all, this year the Warriors could still finish with a share of second place in the Western Athletic Conference depending upon what Louisiana Tech does in its conference finale today. At worst, UH will finish third in the WAC. And who would have expected that seven months ago, much less at the end of September?

It is not where you want to set your aim every year. It isn't what UH fans should accept year in and year out, either. But, under the circumstances of this unique season, it wouldn't be bad.

Especially when 10 years after the blight of '98 we can have the luxury of nitpicking the possibility of a 7-5 record.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.