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Hawaii preview: live in the past, it's better there

Previewing the WAC seems like a good job for an intern. Unfortunately, we do not have an intern. Ugh. Previously: San Jose State, LaTech, and Fresno State. Today: Hawaii.


  Team motto: "What would Colt Brennan do?"

Last season, the Hawaii Warriors reached the pinnacle of the non-BCS mountain, which only made their fall that much harder. And farther. And more humiliating.

Losing to Georgia quickly put an end to their undefeated dreams (not that their WAC championship rings got the memo), and now look at them. No Colt Brennan. No June Jones. Four fewer cocky wide receivers. This is nowhere near the same Hawaii team we saw last year.

But before you go writing the Warriors off, new head coach Greg McMackin would like to remind you that they still have 85 percent of the team back. He’d also like to remind you that Coke now has fewer calories.

Five questions

Hawaii plays defense?

This year they do. In fact, Hawaii has some of the best defenders in the WAC with LBs Solomon Elimimian and Adam Leonard and DE David Veikune. These players will be key to whatever the Warriors hope to do this season, whether it be competing for another WAC title or simply not losing to San Jose State.

Could Hawaii be the least convincing defending conference champion of all-time?

We have yet to find a single person who thinks that the Warriors will repeat as WAC champs. Not even Trev Alberts in his prime would touch this team. The Warriors simply have too much turnover in key places to be in the conversation for the WAC championship. When the Broncos lose a lot of players, they have the depth to reload and be right back at the top of the conference next year. When Hawaii loses a lot of players, McMackin drowns his sorrows in Fanta and thinks happy thoughts.

I miss Colt Brennan.

You are not alone. The island legend was largely responsible for the success of the team the last few years, but he certainly will not be forgotten at Hawaii, especially when Inoke Funaki is throwing up prayers into triple coverage. Brennan's imprint on the program will remain until the Warriors can find a capable replacement. Funaki may be it. So, too, might junior college transfer Greg Alexander. But secretly, the islands are pulling for Tyler Graunke, and by "pulling," we mean "writing his papers for him." Graunke might be back from academic suspension soon, and he may have time to win the starting job before the season starts.

If the Warriors are not rebuilding, then what exactly are they doing?

The word "rebuilding" is a dirty word on the campus of UH. So, too, is "perspective." Of course this team is rebuilding! They lost half of their offense from last year, the greatest coach in team history left, and Georgia gave everyone a blueprint on how to shut down the run 'n shoot. But if they don't want to use the term "rebuilding," we can respect their wishes. Besides, that's what our Roget's thesaurus is for. Do "renovating," "refurbishing," or "improvising" sound better?

Would Hawaii have gone undefeated last year if they were playing this year's schedule?

The Warriors sailed to the Sugar Bowl on the coattails of an easy schedule, and rest assured that the same thing would not have happened with the murderer's row Hawaii has on tap this fall. Good bye, Northern Colorado. Hello, Florida. Wish you could stay longer, Charleston Southern. Make yourself at home, Cincinnati. At least Weber State will be dropping by for a visit or else the Warriors might have been in serious trouble. Can you say drinking Mylanta straight from the bottle?

+/- 4.0 GPA that Tyler Graunke earns this semester thanks to some generous Hawaii faculty members

+/- 12,000 Colt Brennan jerseys in the crowd this year

+/- 4 Inoke Funaki jerseys

+/- 3 games where the Warriors score fewer points than the defense has turnovers

The most intriguing part of the fall of Hawaii is that they are no longer intriguing. Hawaii games were known for being shoot-outs; this year they may more closely resemble defensive struggles. No one wants to stay up until 3:00 a.m. eastern to watch that! With their stars gone, the hype and attention typically paid to the program is as non-existent as a "Tyler Graunke 4 Heisman" t-shirt.

Another intriguing part about their fall is that they haven't really fallen yet. The media is quick to bury Hawaii before a single game is even played, yet the Warriors could turn out to be a decent team when all is said and done. They have strong players on defense, Graunke knows what he's doing most of the time, WR Malcolm Lane has potential, and much of the coaching staff returns.

Unfortunately, decent is a long way from good. The WAC has too many other good teams for the Warriors to make much noise. They've lost too many key players, their schedule is daunting, and the momentum from a season ago is only a memory. In other words, we're going to need more Coke.

Perfect situation
McMackin finds a time machine, visits the past to steal Colt Brennan, Warriors go undefeated, face Georgia in championship game, lose by fewer points this time

the offense struggles, the early schedule puts the Warriors in a hole, Tyler Graunke puts the Warriors in a deeper hole, Hawaii loses winnable WAC games, McMackin lifts the moratorium on the word "rebuilding" for next offseason

Final record: 5-8 overall, 4-4 conference