A Barkley-Roughwater Connection

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Nathalie Walker photo nwalker@midweek.com
The Warriors at practice

It turns out there’s a connection between the start of the University of Hawaii football season and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim. The Warriors face top-ranked USC on Saturday in Los Angeles, while the 43rd annual Roughwater event is set for Monday morning, Labor Day, between Sans Souci Beach and Hilton Hawaiian Village.

The tie-in is USC’s Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Matt Barkley. How’s that, you ask?

Well, back in 1973, Matt’s dad, Les, won the fourth annual Waikiki Roughwater Swim, and is now recog-nized as the youngest winner of the prestigious open-ocean race.

“I was only 15 and vacationing with my family on Maui, and I read about the swim in the local paper,” Les tells me. “I had just come back from participating in the junior Olympics, so it sounded like fun. My grandfather paid for my ticket to fly over to Oahu, and so I grabbed my Speedos and my goggles, and off I went.”

Les was known as Les Barkley Wulk back then, and went on to become a swimmer and All-American water polo player at USC. “After graduation, I legally changed my last name to Barkley,” he says.

The Warriors, who hit their own share of rough-water during the off-season, will try to do their best on the gridiron against Barkley’s son and teammates Saturday at the Coliseum.

Each year at this time, my prognostication teammate Wayne Coito and I try to do our best to predict a season worth of scores for the UH games. We hit a big puddle last year (who didn’t?), but otherwise have done well over the years. Here’s our picks for this season:

Game One at USC. Too much roughwater to overcome. I say USC wins, 63-7. Wayne says Trojans, 62-10.

Game Two at home vs. Lamar. I predict Norm Chow’s first big win, UH 34-10. Wayne says Warriors, 24-10.

Game Three at home vs. Nevada. I predict Chow’s first Mountain West con ference victory, UH 27-24. Wayne says Warriors, 17-14.

Game Four at BYU. Not a good homecoming for Chow in Provo. I say BYU, 38-14. Wayne also picks the Cougars, 31-17.

Game Five at San Diego State. The Aztecs are tough at home. I say SDSU, 35-17. Wayne says Aztecs, 31-20.

Game Six at home vs New Mexico. Nothing like homecoming for the Warriors. I say UH wins 42-17. Wayne picks the Warriors, 35-10.

Game Seven on the road at Colorado State. Split decision here. I think UH falls short, 28-24. Wayne sees an upset win for the Warriors, 21-17.

Game Eight at Fresno State. Always a boisterous atmosphere. I see UH losing a close one, 28-27. Wayne picks the Bulldogs, 27-24.

Game Nine at home against Boise State. Broncos have become a national power. I’m picking Boise big, 41-21. Wayne has the Broncos winning, 38-24.

Game 10 on the road at Air Force. Altitude in November – not a good combination. I’m picking Air Force, 40-14. Wayne picks the Falcons, 35-13.

Game 11 at home vs. UNLV. Great to be back at Aloha. I say Hawaii wins, 31-28. Wayne tabs the Warriors, 38-17.

Game 12 at home vs. South Alabama. Let’s end it on a positive note with UH winning, 30-20, I say. Wayne picks the same score.

So I’ve got UH at 5-7. Wayne says the Warriors are set for a 6-6 season. Should be fun – see you in September!