Amidst repeated listless performances by the Hoya basketball team, it’s clear that something is missing. What the Hoyas need is a cherished pick-me-up, a unique collegiate tradition that may seem silly but that becomes almost a talismanic charm.
What they need is a return of Five-O.
Early in the 1983-84 season – the season, the year of the national championship whose wondrous echoes will reverberate as long as Georgetown lives (and may Georgetown live forever) – a classmate of mine named John Kurkjian lost a bet and won a national spotlight. And we Hoyas won it all.
The bet had something to do with whether a bench-warmer named Victor Morris would actually score points in a particular game. Morris scored. Kurkjian ripped his shirt off and danced.
That year, one of the Hoya band’s standard songs was the theme from Hawaii Five-O. The band usually played it during a timeout in the last eight minutes of each game. Kurkjian, who in the years since has considerably slimmed down, at the time was rather, uh… flabby. He had a unique ability to wiggle his torso and roll his flab up and down like the waves on a beach. As the band played Five-O and Kurkjian ran to the front of the student section and jiggled, his stomach and side looked like a human wave – perfectly in time, if you pictured the video opening of each episode of Hawaii Five-O, with the huge waves rolling into Waikiki in that iconic opening sequence. The crowd roared, and a tradition was born.
J.K. did it again the next game, and the crowd roared again. Likewise in the game after that. Before long it was a regular feature of our games: At a late-minute timeout, the band would play the Five-O theme; J.K. would run all the way out to the court and jiggle while moving his arms in a swimming motion; half the cheerleaders would join him in nautical-looking dancing motions; and the other half of the cheerleading squad would sit on their rear ends on the court, one behind the other as if sitting in an outrigger canoe (as in the show’s famous weekly closing sequence), and dig the heels of their feet (splayed in front of them) to propel themselves in a sliding motion across the floor while their arms mimicked the rowing motions of the canoed native Hawaiians.
“Dah-dah-dah-dah-DAaah, Dah, Dadh-dah-dah-dah DAhhh,” played the band. “Dah-dah-dah-dah-DAaah, Dah, Dadh-dah-dah-dah DAhhh…”
It seemed as if in every single game, the Hoyas came out of that particular time-out with especially inspired play, and proceeded to blow open close games or else put away games where the opponent still at least had been hanging within striking distance.
By the time Georgetown reached the Final Four, CBS was highlighting Kurkjian’s dancing; if I remember right, either CBS or ESPN even interviewed him on national TV; some GU alums reportedly paid for a ritzy hotel suite for J.K. in Seattle for the Final Four weekend – and the Hoyas felled Kentucky’s Twin Stiffs and Houston’s vaunted Phi Slamma Jamma to win the NCAA crown.
The time for the return of Five-O is now. A new Hawaii Five-O TV series consistently ranks in the top 15 of the Nielsen ratings. A talented group of players wears the blue and gray. Another John Thompson paces the sidelines. Yet the team desperately needs a jump-start.
The band should start playing the series theme song every game for the TV timeout after the 8-minute mark. The cheerleaders should re-create the outrigger canoe chain. (Heck, I volunteer privately to show them how.) And, if need be, some portly student should rip off his shirt, wriggle just right like a Human Wave, and bring some absolutely wacky fun back to the Hoya home side.
I can’t promise a national championship in return. But magic can’t work unless it’s tried. Book it, Danno. Aloha. And Hoya Saxa.
Quin Hillyer, a senior editorial writer for The Washington Times, was Sports Editor of The Hoya for the first semester of the national championship season.