New head coach Norm Chow is rebuilding the University of Hawaii Warriors after they had a losing record in 2011. There will be growing pains and to expect too much from the team this year would be unfair. But, no one goes about a football season preparing to lose and in the case of Hawaii, there are enough pieces in place to have a respectable squad capable of playing everyone on their schedule tough. But is there any possibility of the men of Manoa being better than advertised to the point of receiving poll votes and reaching a national ranking?
It's not beyond the realm that the Warriors could surprise a few teams and receive some national recognition this season. The most likely place to look is the schedule. Hawaii traveled to Los Angeles and played the #1 USC Trojans to start with and were blown out 49-10. That in and of itself, hurts their chances for the beginning of the season.
They played Lamar this past weekend, who is an FCS school, which they beat soundly. The Warriors have another home game, but this time a Mountain West Conference opener against Nevada this coming week. It will be a tough game but this is what Hawaii needs to build up to gain respectability and thereby start receiving votes in the polls. By the way, this Nevada contest will be televised on NBC Sports. If they win, it gives the Warriors broader notoriety.
But the following week Hawaii has to travel to BYU for a short week game on Friday. This battle between long-time foes will be televised nationally on ESPN, again garnering attention across the country. This is their best chance at grabbing votes from the writers and/or coaches' poll. BYU will likely be ranked (they were 25th in the AP poll last week) - so if the Warriors pull off the upset win on the road in Provo before a big audience, they will be 3-1 at this juncture and would be expected to acquire some votes for a ranking. A Top 25? Iffy at this point.
So let's suppose they're 3-1 as they head to yet another road contest, once again in Southern California - this time against the San Diego State Aztecs who aren't a bad football team. Hawaii seldom wins back-to-back road games but if they've shown the ability to beat quality teams like Nevada and BYU, defeating San Diego State is possible. Now are they Top 25 material? My thought is if they're 4-1 after five games, they should be very close or in the Top 25.
At this point, they come back home for a game against New Mexico, which should pad their win column and then two weeks later, after a bye, they are on the road at Colorado State Rams who don't look very good. Only problem is, again, the Warriors are inconsistent on the road - but they should beat Colorado State. We'll say the Hawaii Warriors win these two games, which in-turn makes them 6-1 and likely ranked in the Top 25.
Tough road to hoe
Now they have their fourth away game in five contests. Hawaii will be road-weary as they head off to play the Fresno State Bulldogs, who are a rival of sorts and appear to have a very solid group of players this season. This is where the season gets dicey. I'm not sure there's a scenario where the Warriors can beat Fresno State. Then, couple that with coming back home to face Boise State Broncos. No, there's no rest for the weary here because the following Friday after the Boise State game, Hawaii will be in cold Colorado Springs to play a good Air Force team. Net result is probably a couple defeats.
The answer to our question is: the Hawaii Warriors might be lucky enough to sit in the top 25 for a short while during the middle of the season but realistically, don't expect any such circumstances to occur. So no, the Warriors will not likely see any taste of the Top 25.
But next year?
Sources - University of Hawaii, Mountain West Conference
Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of college football as well as Hawaii, visiting there as a second home for over 40 years. Go 'Bows!