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Don't Sugar-Coat It: The Brief Bowl History of the Hawaii-Come-Latelies

There's some good work being done in "The Dawgosphere" these days. Ever since he left me more than a bit befuddled by endorsing Barack Obama's candidacy for vice president (yes, vice president; Senator Obama may still be telling himself he's running for president, but trust me when I tell you that every high-ranking official in his campaign is smart enough to know they're positioning him to be the running mate of whomever wins), Doug Gillett has been en fuego, slapping Stephen A. Smith to the turf before beginning his brilliant (and absolutely accurate) countdown of the biggest plays of the Mark Richt era. Paul Westerdawg, meanwhile, has restaurant recommendations for the New Orleans-bound, a first look at Steve Spurrier's new Christmas album, and an interview with Evil Richt.

Just so you'll know in advance, I'm telling you now that there's a Chandler reference waiting for you at the end. Don't say I didn't warn you.

In the midst of all of the foregoing, you may not have noticed that, shortly after Paul Johnson was hired to be Georgia Tech's Jim Donnan, the U.S. Naval Academy promoted assistant head coach Ken Niumatalolo to replace him as the top man in Annapolis. According to ESPN, he "is believed to be the NCAA's first Polynesian head coach." (Coach Niumatalolo also is believed to be the first head coach whose surname contains the abbreviation of a Mid-American Conference team, but, really, that is neither here nor there.)

What caught my eye about the Worldwide Leader's report was this passage:

A 1989 graduate of Hawaii, he lettered three years as a quarterback and led the Rainbow Warriors to their first postseason bowl appearance in 1989. He was hired as a full-time assistant by his alma mater in 1992 and spent three seasons as an offensive assistant coach.

Coach Niumatalolo led Hawaii to its first bowl appearance in 1989?!?! Oh, you have to be kidding me! For crying out loud, 1989 was the year that Ray Goff led the Bulldogs to their tenth bowl appearance in a row!

I looked it up, though, and, sure enough, ESPN was right: Hawaii has been to seven bowl games in its history . . . well, unless you count a slew of lopsided New Year's Day losses to Pac-10 teams in something called the Pineapple Bowl from the mid 1930s to the early 1950s, although I'm pretty sure the Pineapple Bowl didn't become an actual sanctioned college football contest until Hayden Fox led the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles there in 1991.

The foregoing "Coach" reference provides further proof that my pop culture references stopped in the early 1990s.

In the modern era of Hawaii football, the Warriors have played in the 1989 Aloha Bowl, the 1992 Holiday Bowl, the 1999 Oahu Bowl, and the 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006 Hawaii Bowls. For the benefit of those of you keeping score at home, the Aloha Bowl was played in Honolulu. The Oahu Bowl was played in Honolulu. (You may recall that Georgia coaches who take the Bulldogs to the Oahu Bowl get fired.) The Hawaii Bowl is played in---wait for it---Honolulu. In other words, the Warriors consider their postseason berth in San Diego "that time we played in the East."

That's it. That's the whole deal. On New Year's Day 2008, the Warriors will play their second bowl game ever in a venue other than their home stadium. By contrast, Hawaii's eighth bowl game will be Georgia's ninth Sugar Bowl game. For the 43rd time in school history and a record-setting eleventh year in a row, the Red and Black will be participating in postseason play.

For the record, Georgia has attended a Bluebonnet Bowl, a Capital One Bowl, a Chick-fil-A Bowl, two Citrus Bowls, three Cotton Bowls, three Gator Bowls, a Hall of Fame Bowl, an Independence Bowl, two Liberty Bowls, a Music City Bowl, an Oahu Bowl, an Oil Bowl, three Orange Bowls, three Outback Bowls, four Peach Bowls, a Presidential Cup, a Rose Bowl, eight Sugar Bowls, three Sun Bowls, and a Tangerine Bowl. Whereas the Warriors have played exactly one bowl game outside of the Aloha State, the Bulldogs have gone into battle in the postseason in Atlanta, College Park, Dallas, El Paso, Honolulu, Houston, Jacksonville, Memphis, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Pasadena, Shreveport, and Tampa.

None of that, of course, means that Hawaii can't win this game this season, so we cannot take the Warriors for granted, but, for crying out loud, could the disparity between the two teams' histories be more stark?

Go 'Dawgs!