It’s the Team Nobody Wants to Play

“Teams don’t want to make the trip anymore,” Hawaii coach June Jones says. “They come here, we kick their ass, they go home.”

Jones has a point.

The Rainbows were unable to find a 13th opponent to fill their schedule despite offering $750,000 and a trip to paradise.

Hawaii was put in this position because Michigan State tried for a year to get out of a game in Honolulu — the same one Hawaii now can’t replace — before finally paying $250,000 to do so, reports Matt Hayes of the Sporting News.

Michigan State, of course, got beat in its last trip to Hawaii, 41-38, in 2004. The Spartans are not alone. Alabama, Purdue and Arizona State have lost in recent years on the island.

Mississippi State was one team that refused to play Hawaii, and that game would have been played in Starkville. Jones told Hayes that “a couple” of Pacific 10 teams were offered the $750,000 — plus national television coverage — for a game in Honolulu, but declined.

With quarterback Colt Brennan returning, it’s not surprising that teams didn’t answer the Rainbows’ call for a 13th game (allowable under a 52-year-old NCAA exemption). Hawaii, you might recall, punted only 16 times in 14 games last season, half of that total coming in the first six games. Ultimately, the loss of an extra game will cost Brennan any shot of winning the Heisman.

Skeptical of the Rainbows talent? Consider this: Hawaii had five players selected in this year’s NFL draft. That’s more than Nebraska, Georgia, Oklahoma, UCLA or Alabama. Brennan could be next year’s No. 1 pick.

And the restocking process has already taken place. Hawaii was the state most efficient in producing Division I-A recruits this year in relation to population.

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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