UH-USC open on ESPN
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
For the second time in six years, the University of Hawai'i football team will open its season on national television and, once again, the attraction will be Southern California.
The Warriors' Sept. 2 opener against the Trojans has been picked up by ESPN and the Thursday kickoff will be at 5 p.m. at Aloha Stadium, UH athletic director Jim Donovan confirmed yesterday.
UH's 2005 opener with USC was also shown on ESPN. The game, which was Colt Brennan's UH debut, featured Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. UH is 0-5 in nationally televised home season openers.
This year's game will mark the debut of Lane Kiffin as the Trojans' head coach. But ESPN's interest in the game began prior to the 2009 season when Donovan said ESPN approached UH to see whether the schools would be willing to move the game to a Thursday for television.
"It worked well for USC and for us," Donovan said. "They (the Trojans) wanted to allow their team some time to enjoy the stay and it was good for us because the next two (UH games) were going to be on the road and it allowed us, in a sense, to make back that travel day."
UH follows the USC game with games at Army (Sept. 11) and Colorado (Sept. 18).
Under the Western Athletic Conference's new five-year contract with ESPN, which begins with the 2010-11 school year, the conference is required to furnish a specified number of non-traditional dates (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) for games.
Under WAC policy, UH will receive a $75,000 "inconvenience" fee for playing on Thursday. Overall, UH is to receive approximately $400,000 annually as its share of the new contract.
WAC associate commissioner Jeff Hurd said ESPN may select additional UH games, although they would likely be Saturday dates. UH's Dec. 4 home game with Nevada-Las Vegas and road games at Fresno State and Boise State are possibilities, people involved have said.
UH's schedule is expected to be completed by March 11, when the WAC should have the conference schedule in place.
UH knows it will have WAC home games against Idaho, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and San Jose State and road games at Boise State, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Utah State.
In addition, UH has nonconference home dates with Charleston Southern and UNLV.