Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Most Underrated Rivalry in the Country



Fresno State and Hawaii just hate each other (article from 2003). This game has become such a great rivalry (from 2004) and deserves more national recognition. The rivalry has picked up some steam in recent years, but its roots go back to the 1930's and the hate gained momentum on the basketball courts during the 1990's.

After the 16 team Western Athletic Conference split in 1999, Fresno State and Hawaii remained from the original 10 team WAC. In 1999 the two battled in double overtime to determine the conference champ, but in 2001 Hawaii turned this game into a hated rivalry.

The Jerry Tarkanian Fresno State basketball team of the late '90s were always hated by Hawaii fans and that hate soon transferred over to the football field. 18th ranked Fresno State and David Carr strolled into Aloha Stadium on October 26, 2001 as -6.5 favorites, and left 4 point losers. Hawaii rallied for 22 points in the final quarter for the come from behind win.

The media added insult to injury, by writing a story about the Fresno State Football team trashing the charter plane from Hawaii. The following year Hawaii came to Fresno and won for the first time ever at Bulldog Stadium. The Warriors, again, came from behind to win in the fourth quarter.

Then came the mysterious screwdriver. Hawaii coach June Jones claimed that someone from the hostile Fresno State student section chucked a screwdriver from the stands during the Warriors comeback win. Later, several sources said it fell from a Hawaii team manager's belt.

Did Fresno State trash the charter plan? Did a Bulldog fan really throw a screwdriver? Does it really matter, a rivalry was born. Hawaii whipped up on Fresno State on the Island in 2003, 55-28, but the Bulldogs returned the favor last year with an absolute 70-14 massacre.

For everyone on the West Coast I invite you to tune in this Saturday on ABC, after the USC game, to watch the Most Underrated Rivalry in the Country at 4pm Pacific Time. For everyone else in the country you must have access to ESPN Gameplan to watch the game.

Some of you may doubt the truth of the "hate" in this rivalry. That's fine, but the next time you are visiting or vacationing in Hawaii, I encourage you to wear a Fresno State T-Shirt or hat and wait and see what happens. The hate between these schools is felt, even more, off the playing field.

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