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Realignment possibilities leave Warriors on an island

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:24 a.m. HST, Jun 12, 2010



Maybe you feel like your car needs realignment more than college sports conferences. But something is definitely out of WAC—Boise State, headed to the Mountain West.

Maybe you're happy the Broncos are gone. But if you're a Hawaii fan, why is that? Boise State football's the best thing the conference has (for one more season) going for it. Two BCS bowl game appearances brought in money (good) and exposure for the entire conference (good and bad). Beating the Broncos as part of the 12-0 regular season of 2007 helped Hawaii get to the Sugar Bowl.

But who knows? The Warriors and Broncos could be together again before they ever actually part ways. If too many MWC schools get plucked, the best of the rest of the WAC and Mountain West might be forced to reconvene—the escapees and those left behind in 1998. Mediocrity creates strange bedfellows.

However, there's no guarantee Hawaii would even be part of such a confab. You know why: Water, water everywhere. Not a drop to drink.

AND IF YOU'RE still waiting for UH to be invited to a better conference, you'd better get a Snickers.

The sports at Manoa aren't bad. They're just in a bad place—the middle of the ocean.

And the wrong teams aren't great. If it were about fairness, a program producing two conference championship teams (one a world series participant), a third that makes a dramatic turnaround and an NCAA individual champion in a fourth sport—all in one semester—would get some courtin'. But baseball, softball, volleyball (especially men's) and track and field just don't matter in the big picture.

If football and basketball were more presentable, well, then you might have something. Couple that with a small TV market, and you know why a contingency as radical as a declaration of independence was being thought of on Kamehameha Day.

WHEN EVERYTHING finishes shaking out in a couple of years, Hawaii could find itself a legitimate contender for national championships at the top level of NCAA competition—including football and maybe even basketball.

Of course, there is a catch. A big one.

Nationally, forces are moving toward a scenario some have envisioned for years. Formation of four super conferences of 16 schools each could lead to those programs eschewing the NCAA and breaking away from the rest of college sports. Then it won't matter how many free suits the next Reggie Bush gets.

(Note to those of you who say WAC commish Karl Benson isn't pro-active: He was ahead of his time with a 16-team conference in 1996. Too far ahead as it turns out.)

It is unlikely Hawaii would be among the elite 64. It would probably find itself among a group of 50 or so leftover Football Bowl Series (Division I-A) schools fending for themselves.

The fans of the big-time schools would get what they want: A college football playoff, as the champions of the four uber leagues square off.

The mid-majors would be out in the cold. Amateur sports purists might be happy, until their schools' athletic programs fritter away to glorified intramural programs. Winning NCAA championships would be much easier, but mean much less.

Maybe Congress or the president intervenes at some point. But why would we expect the federales to deal effectively with realignment when they can't handle an oil leak.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.






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