Monday, December 08, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say... | by Pat

As expected, the Hawai'i Bowl is ecstatic that Notre Dame, even at 6-6, fell into their lap.

Calling it a "Christmas wish" come true, the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl has assembled the most anticipated pairing of its seven-year history, matching the University of Hawai'i football team with tradition-rich Notre Dame for the Dec. 24 game at Aloha Stadium.
Notre Dame fans on the other hand seem rather divided on the choice for a number of reasons. The first involves the very fact that the game is being played on Christmas Eve. Add in the cost of flying the team and assorted staff out to Hawai'i, the proximity to finals, and the displeasure of a 6-6 ND team even going to a bowl game and it should be no surprise that many fans are grumbling about the decision to accept the Hawai'i bowl bid.

The Honolulu Advertiser article linked above does a nice job running down ND's bowl options as the season finished up.
But the Pac-10, in an uncharacteristically down year, was struggling to meet its obligation to send a sixth selection and it was feared the Hawai'i Bowl might have to look to a less recognizable representative from the much-less prestigious Mid-American or Sun Belt conferences to find UH an opponent.

At that point, the Honolulu-based Matlin lobbied the game's owner, ESPN Regional Television of Charlotte, N.C., to lay the groundwork for the long-shot possibility of Notre Dame, enlisting Derzis, ERT vice president, in the cause.

But, Matlin said, "a lot had to happen" in a process that others involved have compared to a "root canal."

Slowly, it unfolded.

The Irish were stunned by 3-9 Syracuse, 24-23, removing them from consideration from the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. Notre Dame's 38-3 loss to Southern California coupled with Louisville's 63-14 loss to Rutgers opened the way for Pittsburgh to represent the Big East in the Brut Sun Bowl instead of the Irish.

Then, the Pac-10 was able to field only five bowl-eligible teams because Stanford, UCLA and Arizona State all suffered crucial late losses and were unable to get to 6-6.

That made the Irish, at 6-6, an at-large team available to negotiate once the remaining teams with winning records, Western Michigan (9-3) and Louisiana Tech (7-5), were placed. Under NCAA rules, all teams with winning records must be accommodated before those with .500 marks.

The Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., Motor City Bowl in Detroit and Texas Bowl in Houston joined the Hawai'i Bowl as the Irish's options over the weekend. All put a full-court press on Notre Dame and all offered major TV exposure except Texas, which has an NFL Network deal.

Irish spokesman John Heisler said officials researched the various bowls and asked the players for input. They reportedly strongly favored the Hawai'i Bowl (BGS ed. they picked Christmas in Waikiki over Detroit? Shocking!), but Heisler said a vote wasn't taken.
The article goes on to talk about ND making sure to finish up finals before flying out for the game and the fact they are already expecting to lose money on the trip. There may be more public comments on the decision, likely starting today, so we'll wait for those and any more facts that might surface before chiming in.