Jordan Pu'u-Robinson wasn't on an airplane headed for Los Angeles on Thursday afternoon, nor was he in Provo, Utah. Rather, he was attending a communications class in Manoa.
Pu'u-Robinson's appeal to play football for the University of Hawaii this season was denied by the NCAA on Wednesday. The former Baldwin High School and Kamehameha Maui standout transferred from Washington State in May after three seasons with the Cougars.
Hawaii, which held open a spot on its 64-player travel squad for Pu'u-Robinson until Wednesday, flew to Los Angeles on Thursday for Saturday's opener against Southern California, ranked first in the nation by The Associated Press. Washington State, where Pu'u-Robinson was projected to be a starter after spring drills, lost 30-6 to Brigham Young on Thursday.
Pu'u-Robinson's appeal to waive the NCAA rule that transfers sit out a season was based on what he called family reasons - he declined to comment on the specifics.
"It's unfortunate, but we gave it our best shot," Pu'u-Robinson said via phone Thursday afternoon. "It was in the hands of the NCAA and that's the decision they came with. I am just real thankful for all the support from the university, and my friends and family."
Pu'u-Robinson, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive lineman, practiced with the Warriors throughout fall camp. He was set to be the starting long snapper and would have seen action at a position UH calls its "joker" spot, a stand-up defensive end-outside linebacker hybrid.
He can continue to practice with the team this season, but may now be limited to just one more year of eli-gibility, in 2013. He redshirted in 2009 as a freshman at Washington State and missed the entire 2010 season with a knee injury. Last season he played in 10 games for the Cougars, starting two, and had nine tackles and a fumble recovery.
"I will still be on the (UH) team, I will be at every practice, I will be at every meeting, I will try to give the guys a look on scout team now," he said. "That's going to be my job for the rest of the year."
Pu'u-Robinson still thinks about what might have been in the Pac-12.
"It was really, really hard (to transfer)," he said. "I committed to that place and I really love Washington State. I have a lot of great relationships over there. It was a tough decision, but coming home has been awesome. The support I have down here, I really love my new teammates. Coach (Norm) Chow and his staff have been awesome. It's good to be home, it's good to be with my family as much as possible.
"I still feel I made the right decision. Before I made the choice to move home I knew this (NCAA denial) was a possibility. It was actually the most likely thing to happen. I guess waivers are pretty tough. I can't look back, I just have to focus on my family and my career and moving forward."
Pu'u-Robinson said he will appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility after 2013 because of his previous injury.
"There is a possibility, especially if they take a look at my case," he said. "I am going to miss two years for something that wasn't completely in my control and that's hard to only get half your eligibility. Hopefully there is something along the line to get that extra year. I have talked to (UH) compliance about it a little bit, but not too much. I think we are definitely going to try to shoot for it after my senior year."
Cougars coach Mike Leach was in favor of the appeal.
"I was able to get a letter of support from the new staff and the athletic director," Pu'u-Robinson said. "It really made me feel good about the things I did there and what kind of person they thought I was. I miss that place and I miss those guys."
He now has two teams to keep track of on television. He said he was set to watch the Washington State-BYU game and UH's game.
"Washington State plays in about an hour on ESPN and that was the game I was going to be in, that was my mindset for almost a whole (year) - I was going to be on ESPN playing BYU," he said. "And it is going to be tough watching the Warriors playing at the Coliseum (Saturday) against the No. 1 team in the nation.
"There's nothing you can do about it. The more you think about, 'Oh, I could have been here, I could have been there.' it just makes you feel worse. I have been through it before. I redshirted, I sat out with the knee injury, so I have some experience with it, I guess."