comscore As the WAC gets less western, it's time for UH to get out | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Further Review | Sports

As the WAC gets less western, it’s time for UH to get out

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Welcome to the latest installments of The Most Nonsensical Series Of Sports Events Ever.

Of course, we speak of Hawaii and Louisiana Tech.

Tonight, the Wahine play volleyball against the Techsters in Ruston, La.

Tomorrow, the Warriors host the Bulldogs in football at Aloha Stadium.

Depending on your perspective, the timing couldn’t be better or worse.

If you’re an advocate of UH leaving the Western Athletic Conference this is a great advertisement.

If, for some unknown reason, you still think Hawaii should remain in a conference that is dying a slow, painful death, this is something you’d rather not see.

These schools are both in the WAC, but separated by half an ocean and most of a continent. When all is said and done after this weekend, the LaTech football team and the Hawaii volleyball team will have combined to travel more than 16,000 miles to play each other.

This was insane even in better economic times. Good for the frequent flier accounts, but not much else.

Of course, it’s nothing new. Hawaii and LaTech have been conference mates for 10 years. But the absurdity is amplified by the bailing out from the WAC of Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada.

The potential replacements? Texas-San Antonio, Texas State and — dramatic pause, and drumroll please, for the jewel of the recruiting class … the five-star that must be wined and dined — Montana.

Hey, I said MONTANA!

Sorry, no … not Joe Montana. Not even Hannah Montana or Tony Montana.

The University of Montana.

That, my friends, is supposed to be Hawaii’s motivation to hang in there and be a good conference soldier while the center of gravity of the WAC shifts dramatically east: the possibility that Montana might climb into Division I-A and join up. That, plus a couple of schools in Texas no one in Hawaii cares about. At least the Grizzlies usually have some local kids on the roster.

And don’t forget the bonus of playing two other possible new members, Seattle and Denver. Fun cities to visit with airports you can get to from Honolulu nonstop. Just one problem: They don’t have football teams.

THE REALITY is the WAC has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Commissioner Karl Benson has fought the good fight, but there’s simply nothing he can do to make Hawaii happy.

It’s become increasingly clear that the Big West is a good conference for most of UH’s non-football sports, geographically and competitively. (And in case you were wondering, we have it on good authority the Big West eagerly awaits Hawaii.)

It might be a nice security blanket for Hawaii to remain in the WAC for football only — not a perfect solution, but better than also sending non-revenue teams to Texas and Louisiana on a regular basis.

Scheduling for football as an independent will not be easy. But those who say it’s prohibitive miss an important point. We are talking about scheduling for two years from now, not right away. The college football landscape will be much different, and there will be more teams looking for October and November games.

Think of it like a quarterback. You’re NOT throwing the ball to where the receiver is NOW. You’re throwing it to where he and the ball will intersect. That applies to the art of scheduling, too. It won’t be easy, but it’s do-able.

Yes, athletic director Jim Donovan has some unique disadvantages to deal with. But he’s also got some chips, including the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the Diamond Head Classic and the Hawaii exemption.

Anyway, Hawaii’s opponents in volleyball and football this weekend should make it obvious that it’s moving time, or past it.

Did no one really see this coming?

A decade of sharing conference affiliation with a school 4,000 miles away should have been plenty of warning.

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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