The final Western Athletic Conference football schedule for the University of Hawaii is caught up in crossfire as contentious as the breakup of the conference.
Eleventh-hour dithering by breakaway schools Fresno State and Nevada has been blamed for sending the 2011 schedule "back to ground zero," commissioner Karl Benson told members in a frank e-mail recently.
At a time when most major conferences have already announced their schedules and TV lineups, Benson added it will be later this month before a WAC schedule or TV lineup is finalized.
UH athletic director Jim Donovan said he was concerned that the longer the schedule remains in limbo the harder it will be to book the Warriors’ road travel at an affordable price.
"For us, the biggest concern is that we don’t know when we are playing on the road, so we haven’t had the opportunity to go ahead and grab the air (arrangements)," Donovan said. "Seemingly, every week now airfare prices have been going up and so the sooner we know, the easier it is for us to make arrangements before prices get worse."
Nevada threw the first late monkey wrench into the schedule when it changed its mind about playing previously booked nonconference games on the road in succession against Oregon (Sept. 10), Texas Tech (Sept. 24) and Boise State (Oct. 1) — and sought to drop one of them.
Then, "24 hours before, when we were going to announce the WAC schedule," the conference learned about Fresno State’s Dec. 3 game at San Diego State, Benson said.
WAC schools other than UH had been asked to leave the Dec. 3 date open for a conference game, officials said.
"For you (Fresno State) to do this without our knowledge and now cause (associate commissioner Jeff Hurd) to start over making the schedule is neither fair nor equitable to the other seven WAC members," Benson wrote in an e-mail addressed to Fresno State athletic director Thomas Boeh and sent conference-wide. "Jeff will do his best to establish a fair and balanced schedule for all eight WAC football teams, but you have just made his job much more difficult," Benson’s e-mail concluded.
A Fresno State spokesman declined comment yesterday.
Donovan said the Warriors have been hoping to avoid back-to-back conference road games for a third consecutive year.
"I certainly don’t feel like, if it happens, that it is something that it is, quote, something being done to us, unquote, because we’re leaving the WAC," Donovan said. "(Rather) it is just the nature of trying hard to get everybody in."
Donovan said, "I get e-mails all the time from people who want to (attend) away games" and weddings around the schedule, "and we don’t know what it is yet."