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Gary’s Blog: Let the Season Begin!

By Gary Dickman.

It’s happening. It’s back.

Yes, University of Hawaii football is back, and we should be seeing the team in action starting October 24th, in an eight-game Mountain West schedule. I wrote last week how this decision was expected to happen, but I’m still in a little bit of disbelief. After going through so many sports being cancelled, I didn’t think we’d have a football season this year.

A lot will be different. We haven’t heard yet if fans will be allowed. I really don’t know how that’s going to be resolved. I will say though, that if fans are allowed, I wouldn’t count on a high percentage of capacity being allowed. Just like in the NFL and college games we’ve seen, the capacity has been around 25 percent in most stadiums, or close to that.

I’m glad, for a lot of reasons, that Hawaii football is back. The main reason, is the COVID testing. Players and staff will be tested three times a week, and the great part is that the Mountain West is paying for it all. They’re paying out of their “Reserve Fund.” I’m surprised no one has brought this up, but I will. What’s the deal with this reserve fund? Did it magically appear? Of course not. So my question is, why didn’t the Mountain West do this earlier? The money was obviously there the whole time. I do believe the Mountain West is the only conference paying for 100% of the tests, and we’re all thankful for this. But again, why didn’t they do this a month ago?

I think it’s because, like most things, it’s about money. Supposedly, Boise State would have lost between $35-36 million without a season. Boise officials noticed other schools and conferences playing without any major outbreaks, and according to reports, pressured the conference to get this season going. Some also believe there was a chance Boise was considering moving to the AAC, the conference with Navy, UCF, Houston, Memphis and others. If this is true, and why not, is it surprising that the Mountain West suddenly discovered a way to pay for all these tests out of their reserve funds?

One report said that Air Force or another Montain West school might have joined Boise to the AAC. It now makes more sense that the MW actually feared losing their big money-making school, in Boise, and are buying the tests to keep the conference relevant. If Boise left, the quality of the football schools would have been around the same as Conference USA or the Sun Belt, and  those schools, as you know, aren’t on national TV that much, or in big bowl games. In other words, they don’t make much money.

Speaking of the AAC, there’s a school that might have a player who could get Heisman consideration. He plays at Central Florida, and his name is Dillon Gabriel. The former Mililani quarterback, who replaced McKenzie Milton in high school, and now basically at UCF, has had a great start to this season. In two games, he’s thrown for 825 yards, 8 Touchdowns and only 1 interception. And he hasn’t played all four quarters yet. UCF is No. 11 in the AP poll, and I know it’s early. Gabriel said recently that his team is the best in Florida. I agree with him. Keep your eyes on former UH quarterback Garrett Gabriel’s son, he’s only a sophomore. And the way he looked last year and this year so far, I think he’s got a chance to be at the Heisman ceremony in New York, if not this year, then maybe the next. You heard it here first.

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