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Sunday, April 20, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW


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Hawaii almost back in the rankings game

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:



Nevada must have had a great week of football practice.

While Hawaii was winning by 38 points on the road, the Wolf Pack had a bye — and still got more voting points than the Warriors did in all three polls.

Other than a No. 24 spot for Nevada in the Harris poll, we're talking the "Also Receiving Votes Category" for both teams. So it doesn't matter very much to most people outside of Hawaii and Reno. Neither team is going to a BCS bowl game even if it were to win out, including against Boise State.

But those who say being ranked and relative position don't mean anything have been listening to too many coaches and players; they deny it publicly, but know in their hearts that even a brief poll appearance during the season is beneficial.

It helps attendance, and it helps recruiting. It can even help donations.

There are reasons schools trumpet their rankings in their prospect and alumni guides ... er, I mean, their media guides.

With homecoming approaching Saturday against Idaho and potential new players narrowing their choices, it wouldn't have hurt the Warriors a bit to have cracked a Top 25, any Top 25, after trouncing Utah State in the rainy mountains the other day.

A number in front of its name could come next week for UH if it takes care of business against the Vandals at Aloha Stadium after opening as 14-point favorites — adding even more flavor to the following week's game at Boise State that could determine the WAC championship and possibly the Broncos' fate in the national picture.

THE RATIONALE FOR those who voted Nevada ahead of Hawaii is simple; Nevada is 6-1 and Hawaii is 6-2. But, did some of them forget — or consider, or take the time to learn — who dealt that lone loss to the Wolf Pack?

The only Associated Press voter at the Wolf Pack-Warriors game, the Star-Advertiser's Ferd Lewis, said the team he saw lose that night did not belong in the Top 25.

He voted Hawaii at No. 25 this week based on its five-game winning streak. He said yesterday Nevada remained "not in the conversation for me" when making those pesky picks at the bottom of the poll. Ferd also noted that the AP voters are instructed to weigh heavily head-to-head matchups when deciding who goes ahead of whom, who makes it and who doesn't.

IF IT SEEMS like it takes more for Hawaii to get ranked than other schools, it's because it's often true. It's always been that way — even in this day of information saturation — because UH football is often a late-night afterthought to mainland fans and media.

Home wins for Hawaii, like the one against Nevada, are devalued. Some of it is because of the travel, some of it is because of tales of biased officiating that won't go away but rather go viral (they still talk about Michigan State '04). Hawaii road wins don't seem to give the Warriors a corresponding bump, though — even Saturday's romp over a team that gave Oklahoma all it could handle at the Sooners' place.

And that non-ranked chip on the shoulder is more like a Boulder because of what happened at Colorado — a 31-13 loss; if not for first-half red-zone failings Hawaii wins that game, and instead of a bad loss to a losing team it's a big win against a BCS conference program.

Then there's what we can call the Bourbon Street Hangover.

For all the good that the 2008 Sugar Bowl appearance did for Hawaii, it hurts the Warriors in their current quest for national recognition.

If you were a voter who gave UH love while it built up that (shaky) 12-0 in 2007, you may have felt foolish after what Georgia did to the Warriors in the Superdome. And, fair or not, that might weigh on you as you decide to rank them now or not.

Hawaii might make the Top 25 with a win over Idaho this week. But its record won't be truly respected nationally unless it does something spectacular at Boise. And even then, that would be tempered by those who would simply call the Broncos pretenders to the crown all along.

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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