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Thursday, October 02, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW


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Mountain West needs to prove it on the field

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:



"If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we all would have a Merry Christmas." — Dandy Don Meredith

The nonconference schedule is very big for Hawaii this football season: Sept. 1, at Wisconsin; Sept. 3, against Georgia in Atlanta; Sept. 10, at Arkansas; Sept. 17, Colorado; Sept. 24, Nebraska AND at Michigan.

Say what?

Yeah, you got me ... this isn't the Warriors' slate. But the results of the out-of-league games of UNLV, Boise State, New Mexico, Colorado State, Wyoming and San Diego State, as well as the rest of the Mountain West's, will deserve more than a passing glance from those with an eye on UH's future.

Reports surfaced last week that at least two years of an automatic bid to a Bowl Championship Series game — and the millions of dollars it brings — is supposedly a done deal for the Mountain West, starting in 2012 (which happens to be when UH joins the MWC in football). While some in Warriorland see this as a cause for celebration, I'm going more with cautious optimism, at best.

There are still some really big ifs.

The MWC is extremely unlikely to meet one of the BCS' benchmarks that is part of the requirement for a midmajor conference to be promoted to automatic-qualifier status for football. This key area where the MWC finds itself nearly hopelessly lacking is overall record of all the conference's teams, from top to bottom.

See, it's not enough to have a couple of schools that crash the party now and then ... if your bottom feeders are too lousy, well, better luck during the next four-year grading period.

So that's why UH fans should hope Wyoming (3-9 overall last year), UNLV (2-11), Colorado State (3-9) and New Mexico (1-11) improve drastically, at least out of conference, where they were a combined 3-13 in 2010. Congratulations, Cowboy Joe, you're at the top of your class at 2-2.

Big Brother will be watching.

And the Warriors themselves — as well as Fresno State and Nevada — can help out their new brethren by performing well. Their records this season will be counted in the evaluation.

Even if, as is likely, the MWC doesn't make the grade in that one area, the conference can still appeal for a seat at the adult table.

But since many of the long-term credentials for such a request will have largely been earned via the efforts of dearly departed and departing Utah, BYU and TCU, the BCS will have an out. It can argue that it shouldn't reward a conference that just underwent major surgery, especially with the stitches still fresh.

As much as you might abhor the arrogance of the BCS, you've got to concede that point makes some sense. It doesn't want to get stuck with a version of the Big East, especially one that doesn't include cronies.

The political climate next year could dictate otherwise, though. President Obama and others in office, including the Hawaii state AG, have at least in passing made their displeasure with the lack of a football playoff known. Letting the Mountain West into the party (remember, it's for two years until the current contract is up) might let the BCS say, "See, our system works." But if the economy continues to swoon and along with it Obama's reelection possibilities, the BCS might ignore him — that is, unless the Justice Department decides to get serious and pick up a stick.

Will the BCS's elite system look as unfair to Hawaii fans as it does today when and if the Warriors join the haves?

I don't know ... you've got at least a year to adjust your attitude on that, if you feel it necessary.

Or, maybe it won't even happen. The powers-that-be seem to have left themselves more wiggle room than a Tahitian dancer.

My advice? Be glad you're getting out of the WAC. Keep hoping for the best. But don't count on anything.

And root hard for New Mexico and the rest of the Mountain West in September.

———

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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