Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 80° Today's Paper

Ferd's Words

Wouldn’t it be nice if UH had a real rivalry?

Ferd Lewis

The most interesting news about Boise State this week was hardly the Broncos being picked for their umpteenth Western Athletic Conference football title.

Instead it was the Idaho head coach saying, in essence, Boise State was hearing footsteps from his program while the Broncos’ president and football coach venomously dumped on the Vandals, their fans and, indeed, the whole city of Moscow, Idaho.

And, they don’t even meet on the football field for another three months.

It is times like this when you appreciate what the University of Hawaii and its fans are missing: a real, honest-to-Hatfields-vs- McCoys, smackdown-for-the-ages rivalry.

Like they have at Oregon-Oregon State, Washington-Washington State, UCLA-USC, Arizona-Arizona State. … And just about every state, including Idaho where rivalry is, apparently, no small potatoes.

Now, nobody needs — or should be subjected to — the kind of unruly fans that the Boise State president went over-the-top on alleging and decrying. That doesn’t make a rivalry.

But a little righteous indignation, smack talkin’ and finger pointin’ in July at least shows there is a passion to the Boise State-Idaho series. The kind that is, sadly, lacking from anything UH currently has going.

Part of it being no Hawaii State U. or Hawaii A&M in UH’s back yard to get fired up about or even provide a competitive push. And, don’t count on West Oahu, UH-Hilo, Hawaii Pacific, Brigham Young-Hawaii or Heald fielding Division I football teams anytime soon.

Even on the mainland there are, at best, merely flickering rivalries for the Warriors. Fresno State has definitely had its moments, including the alleged "screwdriver" episode at Bulldog Stadium with June Jones.

The series with Boise State had possibilities after UH knocked off the Broncos in its 2007 run to the Sugar Bowl. But the Broncos have won the last two and, after this season, are off to the Mountain West with no interest in perpetuating the series.

The only two trophy games UH has played in the WAC, the Paniolo Trophy with Wyoming and Gen. Kuter Trophy with Air Force, expired about the time those schools rode off into the Mountain West with the herd in 1999.

It is a situation that makes you long for the biggest and most savored rivalry the Warriors have had: Brigham Young. It took UH a decade to finally beat the boo-Y-U but by then they had a real, heavens-to-LaVell-Edwards rivalry raging. So much so that fans beseeched then-UH head coach Bob Wagner to — please! — beat BYU before they died. And he and UH did, with interest.

Losing to UH back-to-back games at Aloha Stadium and three of four here was bad enough, Edwards, the BYU coach, once declared, but if they beat him in Provo, well, he’d jump off Mt. Timpanogos.

It never came to that — partly because of a field-goal attempt that clanged off a goal post upright — but it is the kind of lore and passion missing these days.

It isn’t just football where rivalry is found lacking. Nobody in the WAC has beaten the Rainbow Wahine volleyball team enough — or succeeded in denying the women a title — to make a real rivalry of it like we remember the way it was with Long Beach State and Pacific.

Men’s basketball hasn’t had one since the Reid family left BYU and Billy Tubbs departed Texas Christian.

One of these days , or so we are left to hope, UH will, again, have something worthy of calling a rivalry.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com


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