The Aloha Chapter of the Shriners sponsored the Shrine Bowl Classic, pitting Hawai‘i against mainland teams. For the 11th annual Classic, teams in the three-game series included San Jose State College, the University of Hawaii, and Willamette. The game guaranteed a $5,500 payout – enough to cover teams’ travel expenses, plus a small profit for the athletic departments. The Willamette Bearcats played what was slated as the first in the three-game series.
The game started at 2:30 pm December 6; 24,000 had shown up to watch the Shriner’s game, the largest crowd in the stadium’s history. Hawai‘i won 20-6. The next scheduled games were San Jose vs. Hawai‘i on December 13 and San Jose vs. Willamette on December 16. Plans changed … on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. None of the athletes for either squad was injured that day. The teams volunteered to assist the Army; they assisted the wounded on their return home. Most of the San Jose State and Willamette players would serve in the military.