The Case of the Missing Paniolo Trophy

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One of the most supportive fan bases for Hawaii joining the Mountain West in football for 2012 was from Wyoming.  With the Warriors being a fellow conference member again this means that finally the dormant rivalry between the schools could finally be renewed.  The rivalry first started in 1979 when Hawaii joined the WAC and was last played in 1997 shortly before the creation of the Mountain West.  

There was a traveling trophy that was created by Hawaiian residents with Wyoming roots.  It was named the Paniolo Trophy, since it featured a bronze cowboy twirling a lasso.  Paniolo is the Hawaiian word for Cowboy.  The first set of bad news came when the Mountain West set it's conference schedule for 2012 and 2013.  With the Mountain West becoming a 10 team football conference in 2012 and sticking with an eight game conference schedule it creates an issue. Every school will miss one conference opponent each year and the Mountain West opted for each school to miss the same opponent two years in a row to ease scheduling

Unfortunately Wyoming will start off missing Hawaii in both 2012 and 2013 thanks to this arrangement.  The earliest these two schools could renew their rivalry would now be 2014.  This is a blunder on the part of the Mountain West to delay a historic rivalry and miss out on the positive press that would happen when it was restored.  If Wyoming had skipped Fresno State or Nevada right away you most likely wouldn't have heard a peep out of either side.

The even worse news just came out recently regarding the trophy itself.

Apparently the Paniolo Trophy was broken long ago and no one knows where it is right now.

The problem is that at some point just before Wyoming and UH last played in 1997, a year before the breakup of the WAC, the trophy was lost.

Wyoming, which won the last five meetings, was thought to have had it. But Wyoming associate athletic director Kevin McKinney said, "We have looked everywhere for it here and it is not to be found. (We) were talking about it and we seem to remember that it had been damaged and was in a shop over there for repairs."

But, McKinney added, "(we're) not totally sure about that."

Neither is UH, which said it has conducted its own search without success.

Apparently that five game winning streak was enough to put the trophy out of commission.  The long delay will give these two rivals more time to keep looking for the remnants of trophy.  If it's not found they can also work on crafting a new trophy that will stay in one piece.

The last three times Hawaii and Wyoming met the score was very lopsided in the Cowboys favor: 35-6, 66-0 and 52-6.  It should be a much more competitive series going forward.  Those wanting to attend the future Wyoming game in Hawaii now have a couple extra years to save up for the trip.         

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