As the old ESPN catchy commercial used to go every December, “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.” The classic song was re-done to include football jargon, but it was an effective campaign to get fans hyped up for the college bowl season. As 2021 winds down and we head into 2022, the vast majority of qualifying teams will be playing the final game of their season in a bowl matchup. But it wasn’t guaranteed that the University of Hawaii would be playing in one.
The NCAA came into the season planning to have a total of 84 bowl games, since that was the approved number that was agreed to on the April 1 certification application deadline*. However, the San Francisco bowl contacted the NCAA over the summer, stating that it would not be hosting a bowl this year. On the surface, this meant that two deserving bowl teams would not be able to cap off their season in anticipated fashion.
To remedy this, the NCAA approved a waiver for a replacement bowl game, giving two deserving teams the chance they earned to become a bowl champion.
“We are always looking for opportunities for student-athletes to participate, and we felt this was one that fit within the construct,” said Sandy Barbour, chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee. Via NCAA.org
As a result, in a partnership with ESPN Events, the Hawaii Bowl was born. The University of Hawaii will square off against the University of Memphis, who accepted an invitation to compete in the game.
“We are thrilled to welcome the University of Memphis Tigers to the Easypost Hawaii Bowl, and look forward to sharing the aloha spirit with their student athletes, administrators and fans,” said Hawaii Bowl executive director Daryl Garvin. Via The Hawaiibowl.com
In an interesting turn of events, two of Hawaii’s best players decided to enter the transfer portal before the NCAA approved the waiver to add the replacement bowl game earlier this month. Quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and running back Dae Hunter will not be eligible for the game as a result.
The game is set to take place on Christmas Eve at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.