I'll admit it, I didn't know much about Hawai'i football before looking into them more closely. I've been to Hawai'i, and there are some big Hawaiian dudes that play pro football, but that's about all I've got. With Hawai'i as one of the team's in Ohio State's out-of-conference football schedule this year, the program is going to come up around your water cooler. Here's what to say:
1. Rainbow Warriors?
The Hawai'i football team is the "Rainbow Warriors" because, in 1923, a rainbow appeared over Moiliili Field after a Hawai'i upset Oregon State, 7-0 (Side note: the spelling of Moiliili Field is impossible to figure out without getting your nose two inches from the computer screen. All those vowels!). Thankfully it was replaced in 1926 by Honolulu stadium (much easier to spell) and and then again in 1975 by Aloha Stadium (spelling bliss).
Back in 2000, the school decided to let every individual team decide what they wanted to be called, which meant the football team went by Warriors instead of Rainbow Warriors. Some teams kept the Rainbow Warriors name. Others, like the baseball team, went by the Rainbows. Still others went by Rainbow Wahine. Confusing? We agree. In 2013 though, the athletic department decided all of the teams would be called Rainbow Warriors again, which is great, because that's an awesome name.
2. Brother, can you spare a dime for Hawai'i football?
Hawaii has been playing football since 1909 (the first game was against a local high school), but the 1942 - 45 seasons were suspended after the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. In 1961, the school killed off the football program for lack of finances, and it was restarted 1962 when a new athletic director came on board. Hawai’i football remains in dire straits, running an annual deficit. The program was on the chopping block again in 2014, and their AD, former Buckeye administrator Ben Jay, quit after last season. The $1.2 million bucks Ohio State is paying them to play in the Horseshoe should help.
3. The original Jameis Winston Colt Brennan?
Colt Brennan, Hawaii’s quarterack from 2005 - 2008, was a Heisman finalist in 2006 and 2007 (losing to Tim Tebow and Darren McFadden in 2007). Brennan, who was initially enrolled at Colorado University at Boulder and then at Saddleback College, notched nine 300+ yard games in his first year at Hawai’i, including a mammoth 515-yard game. In 2007 he was responsible for 136 touchdowns.
Just like a recent Heisman winner, Brennan's career was a little sketchy. He was booted from Colorado following an incident of alleged sexual assault and spent a year in the little leagues before joining Hawai'i. Brennan had a speckled NFL career, playing two seasons with the Redskins until an injury sidelined him. He signed a short-term deal with the Raiders but didn’t make the cut, and moved on to the United Football League, the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League, playing until 2014 when a car-crash induced brain injury eventually ended his football career. In 2012, in the middle of his pro career, Brennan was picked up on a DUI and for drug possession. He's Hawai'i's most (in)famous football alumna.
4. Shoulda stayed in the WAC.
Hawaii played in the Western Athletic Conference from 19XX until 2010. In 2010, after being crowned co-champs of the WAC, Hawaii accepted an invitation to the Mountain West Conference for football, along with Boise State, Fresno State and Nevada. That was also the last year Hawaii went to a bowl game, losing to Tulsa in the Hawai’i Bowl (a game it played in almost every other year since 2002). Seems odd if you can’t even qualify for the bowl game in your own backyard.
5. Stock up on cheese and sausage while you're here, oh Rainbow Warriors.
Hawai’i doesn’t play the Big Ten often. The last time was in 2005, when Michigan State rocked the Warriors, 42-14. But this year Hawai’i double dips, playing Ohio State and then, later in September, Wisconsin. The last time Hawaii had such a prominent out-of-conference slate was in 2012, when they lost to No. 1 USC and BYU. Welcome back to primetime TV, Hawai'i!
6. Land-Grant, Holy Land indeed!
One important link between Ohio State and Hawai’i: they’re both land-grant schools. Land-grant universities were created in the late 1800s as a response to the traditional liberal arts educations prominent at other schools. "Land-grant" refers to the fact that the federally government provided free land to states to sell in order to raise funds to start a college or university. Ohio actually has two land-grant schools, Ohio State and Central State University, located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Hawai'i has just one land-grant school.
So there you go, football hipster -- all the talking points you need to sound like you've actually been into Hawai'i football since before they were cool.