Unbeaten Hawaii deserves title shot

By Kevin Spitz

I imagine it’s rare that those in Hawaii envy others. I know with the weather we’ve been having sometimes I wish I had traded in the Morrow Plots for paradise. But as the football season wanes it seems that the flagship institution of the 50th state must envy other schools in the power conferences.

The only unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the University of Hawaii, is having a heck of a time trying to crack into the Bowl Championship Series, let alone the national championship, and it’s simply not fair.

Any Football Bowl Subdivision program should have the opportunity to play for the championship. It is hard for me to accept that at the beginning of the season, before a game has even been played, there are some teams that can do everything right and still not be eligible to play for the national championship.

There is no other sport at any level that comes to mind in which you can win every game in your season and still not be the champion. In college basketball there is always the mid-major versus power conference school debate when it comes to at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. But if the small school wins its conference tournament it is guaranteed the opportunity to win a national championship.

So if Hawaii and other mid-major schools can’t win a football championship even after going undefeated, why are they in the Football Bowl Subdivision?

I have no problem with moving smaller teams like Hawaii in the Western Athletic Conference to the Football Championship Subdivision if that means they will be allowed to play for a championship. That’s fine with me. But given that Hawaii is in the top division, why does it play the season if it cannot play for a championship?

Now, I was talking to a friend of mine, a student here, whose sentiments about this very situation are very reflective of the general population. He told me that Hawaii can’t be a part of the national championship because it doesn’t have a hard enough strength of schedule, and besides that, it doesn’t have a big enough fan base to deserve it.

First of all, is college football a sport or has it just become entertainment? Isn’t the point of the NCAA and the BCS to crown the best team in the nation the champion? Why should a team whose fans travel well have anything to do with who deserves to get in to a bowl game, let alone the national championship?

Shouldn’t the BCS choose teams that are (gasp!) better at football? Shouldn’t the BCS choose teams that actually win games rather than teams that play a harder schedule and lose their games?

Hawaii is undefeated (1-0) in games against teams currently in the AP Top 25. Of the 11 teams ahead of Hawaii in the BCS standings, LSU, Oklahoma and Boston College can claim that they, too, have undefeated records against teams in the Top 25. Of course, that means those teams have a combined six losses against teams that are unranked.

I do understand that some people will live or die by strength of schedule, but what is Hawaii supposed to do?

The team is stuck playing in the Western Athletic Conference. It will never be able to join the SEC or Big Ten. It will never have the opportunity to play a conference schedule like that of LSU. So the best Hawaii can do is take what it gets and win all its games.

And as far as nonconference games go, the Warriors are at a terrible disadvantage trying to get decent teams to play against them.

I talked to the WAC’s senior associate commissioner, Jeff Hurd, and he told me that Hawaii has a very tough time scheduling nonconference games, and that up until recently, Michigan State was on Hawaii’s schedule this season before Michigan State canceled the contest.

I ask again: What is Hawaii supposed to do?

People may say that Hawaii will be overmatched – that a WAC team doesn’t deserve a chance to play for a national championship. But these are the same people that tried to exclude Boise State last year.

Yes, the WAC is home to that same Boise State team that upset Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The same Boise State team that went undefeated just a year ago.

“Boise State gained credibility for the conference,” Hurd said, “It proved that until the teams go out to the field and play, it’s hard to tell who is going to win.”

I for one am disappointed that we will not get to see Hawaii play on Jan. 7, and thanks to the NCAA and the BCS, it looks like once again we will never know for sure who the best team in the nation really is.

Kevin Spitz is a senior in Engineering. He’s hoping Hawaii doesn’t make him look foolish against Washington this Saturday. He can be reached at [email protected]