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PROVO — It was an otherwise normal day in the Hawaiian islands as BYU football players and coaches practiced for the first time at Kamehameha High School in preparation for next Tuesday's Sofi Hawaii Bowl (6 p.m. MST, ESPN).
That is, until somebody got ahold of Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich's email and pulled a little prank.
Apparently, some practical joker signed up the reigning Mountain West coach of the year for Farmers Only, a dating website geared toward finding love in America's most beloved working-class profession.
The 40-year-old Hawaii grad (who is a happily married father of four) then took to Twitter to try to sleuth out the culprit.
"Whoever signed me up for farmersonly.com, you are a mean person and I hope Santa puts you on the Naughty list," he said. "Fake Coach Harsin is suspect No. 1, and will be questioned after his bowl game. Leave any other possible suspects in the replies, please. Mahalo."
Whoever signed me up for https://t.co/mHYD7BwtvW, you are a mean person and I hope Santa puts you on the Naughty list. @FakeCoachHarsin is suspect #1, and will be questioned after his bowl game. Leave any other possible suspects in the replies please. Mahalo— Nick Rolovich (@NickRolovich) December 21, 2019
Don't count BYU head coach Kalani Sitake among the suspects, though — even if you believe it might give the Cougars an advantage against a team playing a postseason game in its home stadium.
"I don't even know what that is," Sitake said with a laugh, before joking that he would've signed up Rolovich for Latter-day Saint dating site ldssingles.com. "But Rolo and I have a great relationship; we keep in touch quite a bit. I think he’s a really good person. We’re both guys coaching at our alma maters, so it's a pretty cool and unique situation. We’ve been able to keep in touch for a long time.
"I look forward to talking to him about this website that someone signed him up with."
Some mention has been made of the Rainbow Warriors, who finished runners-up to Boise State in the Mountain West with a 9-5 record, playing at Aloha Stadium for another bowl game. But you won't hear the Cougars complaining about it — at least not while they're staying in Waikiki.
"I don’t think they have any advantage on us (as the home team)," BYU quarterback Zach Wilson said. "We're here, and we had a good month of preparation, just like they did. It’s pretty even."
Adverse weather conditions
Saturday's practice featured several bits of the weather elements introduced to BYU in the islands, after the Cougars' eight-hour plane ride from Salt Lake City was delayed by several hours, as well.
The practice started with mostly clear skies, then added several huge gusts of wind, and brought everything short of snow to the practice field.
Good to have the experience now than in the bowl game, though, right?
"They're different elements we are in," Wilson said. "But no matter what you are in, you’ve got to focus and play your game.
"I don't know if it favors anybody. I know no matter what, we are going to come to play and they are going to come to play."
Back in the old, old Western Athletic Conference, BYU and Hawaii played annually in a series that would grow to become one of the Cougars' strongest rivalries.
The passage of time has dimmed that series' outlook among Cougar fans, but Rainbow Warriors supporters still view any contest against BYU — in any sport, really — as a legitimate rivalry.
So, too, does Sitake, the first Tongan-born head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision who spent part of his childhood in the islands.
"I wish we played them every year," Sitake admitted to a Honolulu-based reporter. "I grew up here, with Hawaii always playing BYU, and I think there’s a lot of connection between the two programs.
"When Hawaii was playing BYU, I would always cheer for them. I’ve always wanted them to do really well."