DALLAS - Mark Twain called Hawaii "the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean." In three weeks, the Southern Methodist University football team will be there.
"I'm excited about the whole trip," said Emmanuel Sanders, a wide receiver for SMU. "From getting on the plane to playing in a bowl game and possibly go surfing and seeing Pearl Harbor, I'm excited."
SMU was invited to play a bowl game in the islands, and of course, they accepted.
"It is my great honor, on behalf of SMU, I accept the Sheraton Hawaii Bowls invitation," said Steve Orsini, the athletic director at SMU.
His acceptance was made with students and players in attendance at the student center.
SMU's last trip to a bowl game in 1984 was to Hawaii as well. They played Notre Dame that year. It was called the Aloha Bowl back then, and SMU Head Coach June Jones said he remembers being there.
"I might be the only one that's still in this building that was at that game 25 years ago," he said.
But, the road traveled to get where they are today is a trip no university should ever have to take. Back in February 1987, SMU received the toughest penalty ever given a major college football program when they received the death penalty. Coming back from that has been tougher than anyone expected.
"We put in the time, we put in the effort and I'm glad we could finally bring SMU back to where it once was," said Bryan McCann, a defensive back for SMU. "We're not completely there yet, but we're starting to turn around."
It took the biggest turnaround in the nation to finally turn the corner, converting a one-and-11 season last year into a seven-and-five record this year. Next stop, Hawaii.
"I told them if we win the game we've got no curfew," Jone said. "So, I'm sure they're going to hold me to that."
Twenty five years is a long time for a school not to experience a bowl game. The biggest set back was the death penalty back in the '80s. Steve Orsini, the athletic director may have said it best when he said, "This proves there is life after death."