ESPN has reached a deal to turn the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl into a match-up that includes a team from the Mountain West Conference (MWC) over the next two years. The arrangement was prompted by the University of Hawaii shifting its football program to the MWC from the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) starting next fall.
The bowl has featured a match-up between a team from the WAC and Conference USA. A Conference USA team will continue as an opponent.
The University of Hawaii plays a 13-game schedule. When it has had a winning record, the school has gone to the bowl six out of its 10 years. (One year, it went to the more-prominent Sugar Bowl.)
That basic structure geared toward Hawaii appearing will continue. The MWC champion does go to the Las Vegas Bowl, which could alter things should Hawaii win the conference.
ESPN Regional Television (ERT) operates the bowl game. At 6-7 this year, Hawaii was not eligible, and Nevada faced off against Southern Mississippi.
Pete Derzis, an ERT senior vice president, stated: “Aligning the interests of Hawaii, our many sponsors and the Mountain West is a great move for the long-term success of the bowl and should prove to be beneficial to all.”
ERT is involved in the operation or ownership of seven bowl games.