Hawaii Bowl to feature new teams

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, April 21, 2009

the Hawaii Bowl announced the other day that it has signed an agreement with Conference USA and the Western Athletic Conference to match teams from those two conferences in the annual Hawaii Bowl.

Naturally, that is a trip coveted by most college football players, to say nothing of their fans and coaching staffs. Historically, Southeastern Conference teams and officials have missed out on that game.

The conference and school athletic directors do not really want to go to Hawaii because trip expenses usually outweigh the money paid by the bowl.

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Officials have generally been assigned by either the Pac 10 or WAC, because their travel expenses are less than it would be from other parts of the country. I expect that, since a WAC team will always play in the bowl, officials will now be assigned from other parts of the country.

The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame has announced this year’s list of eligible former college football players to be voted on for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Several Miss-Lou members have again asked why Natchez’ own Joe Fortunato has not been elected to the Hall of Fame, and his name is not on the eligible list. I have addressed this before, but it is timely to again do so.

At the time the Miss-Lou Chapter was formed, Jimmie McDowell was the executive director of the Foundation. Jimmie told me that Joe was not eligible because he had not made one of the “recognized” All American teams.

Many of those “recognized” All American teams would certainly not be recognized by most fans alive today, and many of the players on those teams have faded from most memories. Fortunato certainly fits all other criteria for induction.

He not only played a number of years for the Chicago Bears, he served as a defensive coach for Coach Halas and the Bears.

After retiring from professional football, Fortunato became an active and productive member of the Natchez community. While it might be too late for a rule change to benefit Joe, there are, and in the future will be, many college football players who are deserving of induction into the College Football Hall of Fame who could be caught in the same situation as Joe.

While on the Hall of Fame, I read where Joe Steffy, who was an All American at Army, has had his number retired by the U.S. Military Academy (Army). I remember that Steffy, who was a senior when I was in the seventh grade at Baylor School in Chattanooga, was an outstanding boxer and wrestler as well as football player.

He was a guard who also kicked extra points, and went to Tennessee a year before entering the Military Academy. I believe Steffy made the military a career and retired as a general.

I watched the final few minutes Saturday of Mississippi State’s spring game. As usual, that spring game was played under a strange set of rules. The head coach, most of the assistant coaches, and the honorary coaches were on the field.

If the rest of the game was like the final minutes, the officials simply dropped flags for fouls and violations, and the head coach would decide if a penalty would be assessed.

The game clock continued to run, except in the final few seconds when the winning team had a chance to kick the game-winning field goal.

And, that’s official.

Al Graning writes a monthly column for The Democrat. Contact him at alanward39157@aol.com.