When considering that anybody who is affiliated with Notre Dame and the school's football team sees the Irish's 6-6 record this season as a disappointment and unacceptable, it tends to make one wonder exactly why the Irish would then accept a bowl bid at all. Okay, so it's not that surprising as the Hawaii Bowl does pay each school just like any other bowl -- if not as much as a BCS bowl anyway -- and money is the bottom line when it comes to collegiate sports.
Still, it is a bit misleading. When Charlie Weis is coming out and saying that his and the team's performance in the 2008 season was "unacceptable" and that things need to change, doesn't giving those players an all-expenses paid trip to a paradise like Hawaii send a conflicting message? If Jimmy Clausen was an accountant for some corporation instead of a college quarterback, and he messed with the company's books and got the CEO sent to prison, would they give him a promotion for it?
Though maybe Notre Dame views it differently. Maybe Weis thinks that by taking his players 4,500 miles away from South Bend and out from under the microscope, they'll relax and play football they way they're capable of playing. Maybe he just thinks that the team could use all the practice it can get, and sees this bowl game as nothing more than an opportunity to implement some changes in the team's game plan as it prepares for a 2009 season in which every head is on the chopping block.
Whatever the case is, there's also the possibility that it can all still blow up in the team's face. After all, the school has lost it's last nine bowl games -- with the last win being a 24-21 victory over Texas A&M in the 1994 Cotton Bowl -- and it's very likely that streak will reach ten this Christmas Eve. The Irish are flying to Hawaii to take on a Hawaii team in it's own stadium. The same Hawaii team who just nearly pulled off an upset against Big East champion Cincinnati this past weekend in Honolulu, and the Bearcats are a much better team than the Irish.
One of the biggest gripes amongst Notre Dame antagonists and those with the pitchforks outside Charlie Weis' house has been the fact that the Irish tend to load their schedule with cupcakes, and that they can't beat the good teams. While Hawaii isn't a bad team -- though a 7-6 team from the WAC conference doesn't exactly inspire awe in anybody -- but they aren't exactly USC either, and a loss to the Warriors could prove to do nothing more than make the seat Weis is sitting on just that much hotter.