Bob Marley, Tupac, Queen, Jimi Hendrix never won a Grammy.
Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Harrison Ford never won an Oscar.
And it would be a surprise to many that the 1992 Rainbow Warriors had not been inducted into the UH Circle of Honor.
That changed with today’s announcement that the 1992 Holiday Bowl champs were among five inductees into this year’s class. Dave Shoji, Don and Marion Murphy, K. Mark Takai and Marilyn Moniz-Kaho‘ohanohano also will be celebrated in a dinner in October and with commemmorative plaques in the Stan Sheriff Center.
And while all are very much deserving, special acknowledgement goes to the ’92 team, which represents not only an 11-victory team and UH’s first mainland-bowl winner, but also that era. Bob Wagner, head coach of the ’92 team, and his predecessor, Dick Tomey, fielded some teams that ranked among the program’s finest … except they played at a time when there were much fewer bowls.
The ’92 season was particularly challenging. The Rainbow Warriors opened with consecutive road games at Oregon and Air Force. And while in Colorado Springs, Hurricane Iniki struck the islands. The Rainbow Warriors’ regular season was highlighted with the upset of BYU — thanks to that 53-yard pass from Ivin Jasper to Matt Harding — and the comeback against Pitt that ended after many of the East Coast voters submitted their ballots. How difficult was it to get into a bowl? A 7-4 San Diego State, led by Marshall Faulk, was left home. And, worse for the Aztecs, the Rainbow Warriors got to practice at the SDSU facilities in preparation for the Holiday Bowl.
Illinois finished third in the Big Ten that year after defeating Ohio State in The Horseshoe and tying Michigan. The Illini’s were so stacked that linebackers Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice went No. 2 and No. 3 overall in the 1996 NFL draft.
But the Rainbow Warriors had their own stars: Michael Carter orchestrating the triple option, straight-ahead runner Travis Sims (“looks like Barney, hits like Bam-Bam), wideout Darrick Branch, kicker Jason Elam, defensive linemen Taase Faumui, Junior Tagoai and Maa Tanuvasa, linebackers Stewart Williams and Louis Randall, and defensive backs Bryan Addison, Zac Odom and Doe Henderson.
On a chilly night in Jack Murphy Stadium, the Rainbow Warriors beat Illinois. A week later, they finished in the top 20.