For a while — Hawaii’s final decade-plus in the Western Athletic Conference — the Rainbow Warriors had no trophies to vie for except that of the conference crown, and sometimes the Hawaii Bowl.
But with the joining of the Mountain West in 2012 and the return of some older WAC foes to the schedule, that meant resumption of two dormant series in which perpetual trophies were in play — the Paniolo Trophy (Wyoming) and the Kuter Trophy (Air Force).
In the last 24 months, UH’s number of perpetual trophy series has doubled. First the Island Showdown Trophy with UNLV was introduced in 2017. And this week, the Dick Tomey Trophy was announced between UH and San Jose State to honor their mutual former head coach who died on May 10.
It’s probably not a coincidence this happened under Nick Rolovich; he’s shown plenty of enthusiasm and competitiveness for these trophies whenever they’re in play. And he had a personal connection with Tomey, a mentor.
The design of the Tomey Trophy is in progress.
With all of the trophy series opponents in the Mountain West, in theory up to four trophies could be contested in any given season. In the current form of the league’s division breakdown, SJSU and UNLV will play UH every year as West Division members. Air Force and Wyoming, as Mountain Division members, will face UH half the time (typically a home-and-home series played across two seasons, then two seasons off). Right now, UH faces the Falcons and Cowboys in opposite rotations, meaning three trophies will be contested every year until the conference schedule is altered in some way.
In 2019, the three teams are Air Force (Oct. 19, Honolulu), SJSU (Nov. 9, Honolulu), and UNLV (Nov. 16, Las Vegas). Wyoming likely returns to the schedule in 2021.
UH holds all three of the existing trophies.
>> It beat UNLV 35-28 on senior night of 2018 when Chevan Cordeiro rallied the ‘Bows from a 28-13 deficit in the fourth quarter, giving the ‘Bows possession of the Island Showdown Trophy for the first time.
>> Cordeiro also rallied UH past Wyoming on Oct. 6, 17-13, with a late touchdown throw to JoJo Ward, taking back the Paniolo Trophy from the Cowboys.
>> And back in 2016, the last time UH faced Air Force, the ‘Bows pulled out a 34-27 double-overtime stunner for the Kuter Trophy when Marcus Kemp caught a TD ball from Dru Brown to go up, followed by Jalen Rogers’ pick of the Falcons to seal it.
If the Tomey Trophy were in play last season, UH would have that, too; it somehow survived the five-overtime odyssey against San Jose State in San Jose, 44-41 on Sept. 29.
Are there other series you’d like to see a perpetual trophy contested? Fresno State and BYU, perhaps? And what would you name the trophies?