Hawaii coach June Jones wanted his football team to open the season at Michigan. The Wolverines wouldn't play the Warriors and instead hosted Division I-AA Appalachian State, which beat Michigan 34-32 in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
Hawaii was scheduled to play Michigan State this season, but the Spartans paid $250,000 to cancel the game. Jones tried to replace the Spartans with Southern California, but even the Trojans wanted no part of quarterback Colt Brennan and the Warriors' high-octane offense.
"We offered to play everybody," Jones said. "No one wanted to play us."
With two weeks left in the regular season, Hawaii is one of only two unbeaten teams left in major college football. The Warriors are 10-0 and ranked No. 15 in the BCS standings. Hawaii has to finish in the top 12 of the final BCS standings to receive a lucrative at-large berth in a BCS bowl game, or in the top 16 and ranked higher than one of the champions of the traditional BCS conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and SEC).
Even if Hawaii beats No. 19 Boise State on Friday night (ESPN2, 9 ET) and Washington on Dec. 1 to finish the regular season at 12-0, the Warriors aren't guaranteed of playing in a BCS bowl game. It will be up to the voters in the Harris Interactive Poll and coaches' top-25 poll, two of the main components in the BCS formula, to put them there.
"We knew before the season started that we had to win them all to get any respect," Jones said. "We've kind of focused on one at a time and it's worked for us. All I know is we beat Arizona State in a bowl game last year and we've won 20 of our last 21 games. We'll line up and play anybody."
Kansas is the only other unbeaten team left in major college football. The Jayhawks are 11-0 and ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings. Kansas is in its lofty and unprecedented position because it scheduled wisely, to say the least.
The Jayhawks didn't play Oklahoma, Texas or Texas Tech, three of the strongest teams in the Big 12, during the regular season. The Big 12 office, and not the Jayhawks, set the conference schedule.
But Kansas' nonconference schedule -- home games against Central Michigan, Division I-AA Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and winless Florida International -- was created to make the Jayhawks eligible for a bowl game.
The soft schedule might end up being Kansas' ticket to the BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans.
If Kansas beats No. 4 Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on Saturday and then beats No. 10 Oklahoma or No. 13 Texas in the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 1, it will probably play for the national title. Certainly, the Jayhawks' last two victories would suggest they're worthy of playing for the national championship.
But Kansas' first 11 games suggest otherwise. In fact, if the Jayhawks didn't play in the Big 12, the Jayhawks would be in the same boat as Hawaii. They have played only three teams with winning records -- Central Michigan, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M are each 6-5. Furthermore, the 11 opponents Kansas has played so far have a combined record of 47-75.
Hawaii's 10 opponents, including two Division I-AA foes, are a combined 34-76.
The Jayhawks haven't been penalized for playing a soft schedule; the Warriors have been penalized heavily.