The Hula Bowl is set to make its return to Aloha Stadium this Sunday.
This will be the first edition of the prestigious postseason college football all-star game since Jan. 12, 2008. Hula Bowl executive director Rich Miano, who played in the 1985 game before an 11-year NFL career, says the time is right for the game to make a revival.
“I think having the Hula Bowl back is really special for the state of Hawaii because I think most of us, especially us older folks, kind of remember how grand it was, remember how authentic it was,” Miano told KHON2. “Our vision is to get there but we understand it’s gonna take a few years.”
This year’s game will feature 100 college players, and the impressive list can be seen here. Many of the players have Hawaii and/or Polynesian ties. The game will also include football players from all NCAA divisions, along with international players from Japan, Canada, Australia, and the UK.
Former NFL coaches Mike Smith and Rex Ryan will coach on opposite sides, as Smith will coach the Aina team and Ryan guides the Kai squad.
Scouts from the NFL, CFL, XFL will attend and the game will be televised on CBS Sports network. The Newsweek Hula Bowl will kick off at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
For Miano, the game is what catapulted his pro career. He hopes that down the line, players can say the same about Saturday.
“It was special, and I’m hoping that it’s special for the University of Hawaii players and about 15 or 20 Polynesian players that we’re bringing in from the mainland because to me at that time, I would watch TV and see these All-Americans and see these great players and then all of a sudden, Doug Flutie, Jerry Gray, all kinds of All-Americans, Lombardi Trophy winners, Outland Trophy Winners, here I am playing on the same field,” Miano said.
“That was when I found out I can play in the NFL, because I can play with All-Americans.”