Hawaii is six hours behind the East Coast, as many hours as the East Coast is behind Paris. Yet Hawaii’s football team is not taking a bye week before or after its lone 2018 trip to that part of the United States, in Week 3 at Army.
In fact, not only are the Rainbow Warriors not getting an extended break before or after that trip — they’ll play seven days later in Honolulu — they’re starting the Army game this Saturday at 6 a.m. their time, which is noon ET and local time at West Point.
No matter when exactly Hawaii gets off the plane in New York, many Rainbow Warriors will be jet lagged at kickoff.
People take different amounts of time to get over jet lag, but on a travel roster of 70 or so players and a bunch of coaches and support staff, lots of them will be tired.
Lots of teams on Central time play 11 a.m.-local games. Early-morning practices and weight-lifting aren’t new for anyone in college football. A 6 a.m. game is a different deal.
And yikes at having to play Army at 6 a.m. your time.
In the Black Knights’ flexbone option offense, every play is a car crash unfolding in slow, but inevitable, motion. They’ve thrown 29 passes in their first two weeks, and that’s actually a lot by their standards, even though it’s the fourth-fewest among 130 FBS teams.
In 2017, Army threw five passes per game. It threw three or fewer six times. Pretty much every other play looks like this, with bodies just banging into each other:
If there were one opponent in the entire sport I would not want to play when my body clock told me it was 6 a.m., it would be this team. Also, while Hawaii’s offense is amazing and fun, the run defense is not good. UH will enter averaging 5.2 yards allowed per carry, 106th in FBS. It’s wholly possible Army will not attempt a pass in this game.
But Hawaii is resilient. The Bows have done this before and been undeterred.
Hawaii’s most common game time is 6 p.m. Hawaii time. The Bows play a lot of late-night-Eastern games, which makes sense given their location in Hawaii.
The last time they got stuck playing at their 6 a.m. was in 2016 at Michigan. They lost that game 63-3. (This was part of a brutal travel stretch, a week after a game in Australia. The team flew more miles that season than the circumference of the earth.)
They played a handful of 9:30 a.m. Hawaiian games in the years leading up to that and lost them all, but against tough opponents — Washington, Ohio State, and Navy.
But before all of that, in 2010, Hawaii played a game exactly like this one: at 6 a.m. Hawaii time, visiting Army at West Point. And the Bows won that game, 31-28, against a perfectly decent Army team that turned out to go 7-6 with an Armed Forces Bowl win.
Is it fair to make Hawaii play at 6 a.m. its time? No, for either the players or the fans back home who’d like to watch without getting up early. But in the warped, TV-driven reality of college football in this century, the Bows have made it work before.