271 days after being named the 23rd Head Coach in University of Hawaii Football history, former record setting Warrior quarterback Nick Rolovich is on the eve of leading the ‘Bows into the ‘Pride Rock’ era against California in Australia.
The ‘Bows held a light practice today, donning white helmets that have KMT sticker on the back in honor of Former United States Representative Mark Takai, a UH graduate and supporter of the athletics program who died earlier this year.
The game is set to start at midday Saturday, which will be 10 p.m. Friday on the east coast of the U.S., 7 p.m. in California and 4 in the afternoon for the Hawaii home fans in the mid-Pacific. It was brought to Sydney in an attempt to increase support for so-called “gridiron” in Australia, a country which keenly follows the National Football League and has provided several players, mostly punters and kickers from Australian rules football, to NFL teams.
It’s only the third college game played in Australia – the previous two were in Melbourne in the 1980s. The last U.S. football match played in Sydney was in 1999 when the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers 20-17 in a preseason game at the Olympic stadium which attracted more than 73,000 spectators.
Saturday’s crowd, which will feast on foot-long hot dogs and other menu favorites from the U.S., will see experienced quarterbacks start the game.
Davis Webb, who Dykes has already named in the starting role, is one of the key Cal additions this year, replacing Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams.
A graduate transfer from Texas Tech, Webb played in 23 games with 14 starts over three seasons and career totals of 5,557 yards and 46 touchdowns. He’s enrolled in Cal’s public health Masters program.
Ikaika Woolsey beat out three other Hawaii quarterbacks to get the nod for the starting role in Sydney from new coach Nick Rolovich. In his senior year, he has had 19 starts for the Rainbow Warriors.
The Rodeo, California-born Woolsey will lead Hawaii’s contingent on Saturday in a familiar pre-game ritual that many Australian rugby fans will recognize.
New Zealand’s famed All Blacks rugby team do a Maori-inspired haka, or war dance, on the same field whenever they play Australia’s Wallabies in rugby union matches. But that only usually involves the starting 15 players.
On Saturday, the entire Hawaii squad numbering nearly 100 players will take to the field about 20 minutes before kickoff to do the haka that is compulsory for all team members to learn.
It’s the seventh consecutive year that Hawaii, a member of the Mountain West conference, will open against a Pac-12 opponent. They are 2-4 over that span.
California has a better record, going 7-2 in season openers since 2007, including a 73-14 home win at Berkeley last year over Grambling State. Overall, the Golden Bears are 75-42-4 in all-time season openers.
Hawaii vs. California
What: 2016 College Football Sydney Cup
When: Friday, Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. HST
Where: Sydney, Australia; ANZ Stadium (80,000)
Television: Live nationally on on ESPN with Allen Bestwick (play-by-play), Mike Bellotti (color) and Warren Smith (sidelines).
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM will carry the game live with Bobby Curran (play-by-play) and John Veneri (analyst). Chris Hart and Gary Dickman host the “Countdown To Kickoff” beginning at 2:00 p.m. HT, and also the halftime show. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, KTOH on Kaua’i, and KNWJ in Pago Pago, American Samoa. In addition, the game is available on satellite radio on XM 203 and Sirius 93.
Live Audio: ESPN1420am.com
Live Video: WatchESPN
Live Stats: cal.statbroadcast.com