POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 2, 2011
Welcome to the year of breathing a little easier for the University of Hawaii football team.
Well, at least, in the Western Athletic Conference.
As of yesterday, (cue the band) the Warriors and Boise State are no longer in the same conference.
Of course, you could say nobody from the WAC has been in Boise State's league for a few seasons now.
Never mind that it is strictly a one-year respite for the Warriors, who will again be face mask to face mask with the Broncos come 2012, when UH also joins the expanded, 10-member Mountain West Conference.
When you have lost eight of the past nine conference meetings in the series — and by an average of four touchdowns a game — you count your blessings when, and how, you can.
And yesterday was one of those times. While the Broncos' official entry into the MWC on Thursday was cause for celebration across Bronco Nation, it was not without joyous portent and promising reflection here, too. Especially if you remember that 42-6 thumping in Boise last year.
Instead of seeing blue this year, the Warriors glimpse opportunity.
There are reasons most of the preseason college football magazines have UH picked no worse than second in the WAC and one big one is the absence of Boise State from the schedule. Boise's departure from the WAC removes a major obstacle in the Warriors' path to a fifth — and last — WAC title. It gives UH its best chance to accomplish something it has yet to manage in 31 years of WAC membership, back-to-back football championships. Would there be a better way to exit the WAC?
Even with Boise out of the picture, winning the WAC won't be a snap. There will still be Fresno State and Nevada, among others, to overcome. And they are undoubtedly saying the same thing about Hawaii, though they will play the Broncos as nonconference opponents this year.
For UH, there are road trips to Ruston, La., Reno, Nev., and Moscow, Idaho, to be negotiated and an offensive line to be rebuilt. But how much better is it to have Bryant Moniz as the only returning starting quarterback in the WAC, instead of sharing that designation with Boise State's Kellen Moore?
How good is it to have Broncos' coach Chris Petersen going against San Diego State this November instead of the Warriors? And, as an added bonus, UH doesn't have to pay travel subsidies to visiting conference opponents, yet.
For scheduling purposes this season, UH gets Tulane, a Conference USA opponent, coming off a 4-8 season rather than the Broncos bouncing back from 12-1.
For all these reasons and more, it behooves the Warriors to make the most of this considerable opportunity. Because, come July 1, 2012, guess who is back on the schedule?