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Further Review | Sports

If Warriors keep winning, will Mountain West call?

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Does winning really cure all evils, even the geographic challenge of thousands of miles of distance from your nearest competition?

If the University of Hawaii keeps up its winning ways in football, it will learn the answer to that question in the coming months. And maybe UH won’t be done with Fresno State and Nevada after all — even after 2011. And next week’s visit to Boise State might not be the last for the Warriors.

And I’ve got a wonderful fish for you from the Ala Wai Canal.

No, really, hear this out: The experts tell us TCU continues to edge closer to the Mountain West exit door, on a path to either the Big East or the Big 12. If the Horned Frogs make the leap when the next round of realignment strikes after the season, it would leave a noticeable void in a conference already losing BYU and Utah and replacing them with the WAC defectors.

By the way, anyone surprised that Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada are making that move just hasn’t been paying attention. Perhaps the attached drama overshadowed the obviousness of the whole thing.

Many people here also seem blind to the reason Hawaii’s invitation got lost in the mail. The answer is all around us, it’s called the Pacific Ocean.

But, with every Warriors football win, five in a row now — especially those against the future mountaineers and even a potential one (Utah State) — Hawaii gets a little bit more notice and builds a little bit stronger case as a program of value whose assets might eventually outweigh its liabilities.

If UH accomplishes what now appears to be a very possible double-digit-win season — and if it at least makes a game of it at Boise State — would the Mountain West forget about how much it costs to fly a soccer team to Honolulu? Would Hawaii be considered a program on the upswing or just a one-year wonder?

Might not matter. Travel expense is why Hawaii wasn’t asked to join the Breakaway Eight in the first place when they ditched the WAC. The distance from Denver to Honolulu is the same as it was in the ’90s, the tickets just cost more now.

But let’s say UH finishes 2010 in the Top 25 in football. Would a Mountain West on the verge of losing TCU rather invite the program with the better chance of repairing the MWC’s football image (and help fuel its automatic BCS berth dreams), or would it again court the inexpensive neighbor, Utah State? Do you go for the high-maintenance looker or the cheap date next door?

Stop laughing, we’re not talking about the Pac-10. And it’s all hypothetical, of course. But not out of the realm, with the condition that Hawaii keeps producing on the field.

Back to reality and the future of the WAC. Last we checked, it’s still the conference Hawaii’s teams compete in.

So, now the next big move is up to … Montana?

Within the next 30 days invitations will be extended, and commissioner Karl Benson said there’s been no change; the candidates are still Montana (maybe), Denver, Seattle, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State.

Hawaii’s possibilities remain: stay in the WAC, go independent, or hope for an invitation from somewhere else when the dominoes begin to fall again.

UH fans have made it clear they’re not excited about the potential new WACmates.

A team on a five-game winning streak atop the conference standings won’t sell out Aloha Stadium for homecoming tomorrow against Idaho. Montana and Texas-San Antonio might be sleeping giants. But is there any reason to think they would help draw 50,000 to Halawa?

And is there any upside for UH to baby-sit "the next Boise State" until it’s ready to graduate from the WAC?

If the Warriors keep winning, Hawaii could end up with at least one better option.

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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