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It’s getting crowded here

January 5th, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. >> Will this be the most-watched college football game ever?
That’s what some are saying as Alabama and Notre Dame get set to tee it up Monday night in the BCS National Championship game.
Why wouldn’t it be? The teams are the two most magical names in the sport. And it’s Dynasty vs. Destiny, as Alabama tries to win the title for the third time in four years and Notre Dame tries to complete an undefeated season and its climb back to the top of college football.
I’ve been here since late Wednesday afternoon, and the media hotel has been getting more crowded each day, as have the press conferences and buses to practices. Media day today at Sun Life Stadium will likely be a zoo. More than 800 media credentials have been issued.
Honolulu attorney and Notre Dame super fan Paul Cunney said the demand for tickets from Fighting Irish fans has far outstripped the number available and many ticketless ND fans are flocking to South Florida anyway just to be on the scene. Some estimate the number of those requesting tickets just from the Notre Dame fans as 100,000 for the 72,230-seat Sun Life Stadium.
Among the fans arriving in the past couple of days are the family members of Notre Dame’s three players from Hawaii, Manti Te’o, Robby Toma and Kona Schwenke.
Honolulu businessman Peter Kim, the Kaiser grad who kicked the final points of Bear Bryant’s coaching career at Alabama, arrives today.

Toma references Hawaii

January 2nd, 2013

The consensus is that Robby Toma killed Wednesday in his stint as sole spokesman for the Notre Dame football players as they arrived here in Fort Lauderdale for Monday’s BCS national championship game against Alabama.

The FIghting Irish senior receiver from Laie and Punahou was poised, thoughtful and entertaining. His statement that Notre Dame vs. Alabama was like Rudy vs. Forrest Gump was funny and insightful.

He also referenced his home state of Hawaii a couple of times.

“It feels good to be back in this weather,” Toma said, referring to the high 70s temperature and pleasant breeze in South Florida today.

He talked about being home in Hawaii for Christmas. “Everyone was excited. They’re all excited to watch the game. That’s all they were talking about while I was at home.”

Later, someone asked if the warm weather here would be a problem for the Notre Dame players.

“Not for me,” he answered. “Maybe some of the other guys. I grew up playing in this weather. So I’m excited.”

On Thursday, Manti Te’o will be at a press conference here at the Harbor Marriott Hotel, where the media is based. Quarterback A.J. McCarron will be one of the Alabama players available for interviews. It could be a madhouse.

Headed to the BCS NC

January 2nd, 2013

I’m at the Phoenix airport on my way to South Florida to cover the Notre Dame-Alabama national championship college football game.

There is unprecedented interest in Hawaii in this game, especially for Notre Dame since the No. 1-ranked and undefeated Fighting Irish feature three local players: Heisman-Trophy-runner-up linebacker Manti Te’o, wide receiver Robby Toma and defensive lineman Kona Schwenke.

I’ll be writing daily, including coverage of Monday’s game. Later today I hope to be talking with Toma, who has been tabbed to represent the Fighting Irish players in addressing the media upon the team’s arrival in Ft. Lauderdale this afternoon.

UH fans missed out on great hoops

December 25th, 2012

Hi Dave and best wishes for the holidays!

Speaking of hoops, I have a gripe to bring up, and it is a recurrent problem that comes up this time of year.

Case in point:

We have been UH season ticket holders for many years. Last night after the UH win, there was a notable exodus of UH fans heading for the exits in spite of the next game featuring the #3 team in the country and a good Miami team. Sitting next to us is a season ticket holder and his wife, and they got up to leave as well. I asked him if he wasnʻt going to stay for the next game. He said that he just wanted to watch the UH game and wasnʻt interested otherwise.

As you know, the Wildcats are very, very good, and the few fans that stayed around were treated to a very competitive game at least in the first half with many highlight plays. If it werenʻt for the UA fans (who travel well), the stands would have been embarrassingly empty.

Itʻs actually pretty disgraceful when you think about it and reflects poorly on Hawaii’s fans. Also in this case it wasn’t a Friday or Saturday night contest, and the scheduled start was 6:30 so folks would be home relatively early. The holiday season? Probably a factor but still if you enjoy college basketball especially at the highest level, I just canʻt understand not taking advantage of a ticket that gets you two games. I suspect that the championship game which really matches the two top teams on the west coast will also feature a lot of empty seats again.

We’ve seen this pattern before with the old Rainbow Classic, and I think its demise and loss of sponsorship support and regional TV coverage eventually was at least partially due to attendance problems especially if the UH didnʻt make it to the evening games. The DH Classic is going to have a hard time challenging the EA sports Maui tourney if people are going to treat the non-UH games as afterthoughts with little interest. In the last years of the Rainbow Classic the fall off in attendance was mostly due to the lack of “name” teams unlike the salad days at the Blaisdell with the likes of Duke and Michigan. Fans pack the gym at ʻIolani to watch top mainland high school teams in the annual classic there. Local fans fight to get the few available tickets for the Maui tourney. Yet on Oahu, a lot of the people who go to UH games apparently are not really big fans of the sport unlike the situation for volleyball for example. I also wonder a little about the lack of extras promoting the DH Classic: A friend tried to buy T-shirts for his kids but was told there werenʻt any (unlike Maui where all kinds of souvenir items are available)

As we were enjoying watching Mark Lyons and his talented teammates in action against the Hurricanes, I felt sorry for those people who left early and at the same time a little embarrassed for Hawaii. In a nutshell, there is no substitute despite HD TV coverage of being live at a sporting event. Of course the ESPN coverage tries to minimize the views of empty seats but the future of our tournament here may be a little problematical as a result.

Thanks for listening and keep up the good work!

Peter Caldwell

Bowl picks, against the spread

December 15th, 2012

Just for fun, my college football bowl season picks (spread, not straight-up; my pick listed first)

New Mexico Bowl: Nevada getting 9 1/2 against Arizona
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo getting 10 against Utah State

Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State getting 2 1/2 against BYU

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: UCF giving 7 against Ball State

New Orleans Bowl: LA Lafayette giving 6 against East Carolina
Las Vegas Bowl: Washington getting 5 against Boise State

Hawaii Bowl: SMU getting 12 against Fresno State

Little Caesers Pizza Bowl: Central Michigan getting 5 1/2 against Western Kentucky

Military Bowl: San Jose State giving 7 to Bowling Green
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati giving 7 1/2 to Duke
Holiday Bowl: UCLA giving 1 to Baylor

Independence Bowl: Louisiana-Monroe giving 7 to Ohio
Russell Athletic Bowl: Virginia Tech giving 2 to Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Texas Tech giving 13 to Minnesota

Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force giving 1 to Rice
Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy getting 13 from Arizona State
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse getting 4 from Virginia
Alamo Bowl: Oregon State giving 2 to Texas
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: TCU giving 2 1/2 to Michigan State

Music City Bowl: Vanderbilt giving 6 1/2 to NC State
Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech getting 10 from USC
Liberty Bowl: Tulsa, pick ‘em over Iowa State
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: LSU giving 4 to Clemson

Heart of Dallas Bowl: Purdue getting 16 1/2 from Oklahoma State
Gator Bowl: Northwestern getting 2 from Mississippi State
Outback Bowl: Michigan getting 5 from South Carolina
Capital One Bowl: Georgia giving 10 to Nebraska
Rose Bowl: Stanford giving 6 1/2 to Wisconsin
Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois getting 13 1/2 from Florida State

Sugar Bowl: Louisville getting 14 from Florida

Fiesta Bowl: Oregon giving 9 to Kansas State

Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M giving 4 1/2 to Oklahoma

Compass Bowl: Pitt getting 3 1/2 from Mississippi

National Championship: Notre Dame, getting 9 1/2 from Alabama

1/8 Bowl: Kent State getting 4 from Arkansas State