The University of Wisconsin football team did not sign any Polynesian players in its 2013 recruiting class.
But if Badgers coach Gary Andersen has his way, that could be the last class not to have some Polynesian flavor.
Having coached at Utah and Utah State with an abundance of Polynesian players, Andersen would like to continue that pipeline at UW.
"Polynesian kids have been a part of the programs I've been in at Utah and Utah State, ever since I kind of remember playing football," Andersen said prior to signing day on Wednesday.
"It was an important part of our program at Utah State and I think we need to reach out, not just to the (Hawaiian) Islands, but to the Polynesian kids all over the United States — Tonga, Somoa, even into Alaska — and be able to recruit the best of the best in that scenario and give them an opportunity to come in and compete at a high level."
The timing couldn't be better. Super Bowl XLVII last Sunday featured five players with Polynesian heritages.
The Baltimore Ravens had two Tongan defensive linemen in Ha loti Ngata and Ma'ake Kemoeatu. The San Francisco 49ers featured guard Mike Iupati, who is Samoan; backup fullback Will Tukuafu, who is Tongan; and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who is from American Samoa.
The islands that make up Tonga are located about 1,500 miles north of New Zealand, while Samoa is another 550 miles to the northeast.
Ngata, who missed most of the second half of the Super Bowl after suffering a knee injury, is one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. The success of him and others means the number of Polynesian players will likely continue to grow at every level.
"It's because of the level of football over in the Polynesian Islands and Hawaii," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome told USA Today prior to the Super Bowl. "They play very good football over there. And someone like Ha loti, who is 6-4, 340, who can move like that? I don't care where he played. He's going to be pretty good."
Until now, those players have mostly wound up in western schools. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told USA Today he had 45 Polynesian players on his roster, which he said is second-most in the country behind the University of Hawaii.
UW defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a spent the previous two years coaching the same position at Utah.
"I think everybody is expecting me to sign five Polynesian kids this class," Kauha'aha'a said in an interview last month, after being hired. "That's not going to happen. We're kind of late in the game."
The Badgers had some success recruiting Hawaiian players under former coach Barry Alvarez. The most notable was center Donovan Raiola, who started from 2003 to 2005.
During one stretch, Alvarez scheduled games in Hawaii every four years.
Badgers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda coached at Hawaii from 2008 to 2011.
Even with those ties, can the Badgers find success attracting Polynesian players to the Midwest? Andersen is determined to try.
"We'll reach out," Andersen said. "It doesn't happen overnight. We'll sure be excited to bring a couple of those young men on campus and make strides in that area."
While most of the Polynesian players wind up at schools in the West, Kauha'aha'a believes they would be a good fit at UW.
"I think we fit well anywhere," Kauha'aha'a said. "You've got to get one, so you can bring some other ones up here. We've been successful in the West. I think other schools in the country are starting to do that."
Both Aranda and Kauha'aha'a said recruiting Polynesian players requires a firm commitment.
"If we do it, we've got to be committed to it," Kauha'aha'a said. "Because Wisconsin is far away, I'm not going to lie about that. ...
"If Gary's in charge, that's what we're going to do. Do I expect our roster to look like Utah State, the University of Utah, or Brigham Young? No. If we can get a handful of kids, that would be great. We'll see."
The upside to recruiting Polynesian players was evident in the Super Bowl. Those players are known for being big and fast. The five players on the Super Bowl rosters averaged 329.8 pounds.
Yet, both Andersen and Kauha'aha'a said the biggest benefits are the personalities that have made Polynesian players appealing to many programs.
"The one thing about having Polynesian kids in your program — I've been interviewed on this before and I'll stick by it — our kids bring that family atmosphere, that family environment, family always comes first," Kauha'aha'a said.
"It's unbelievable the way they bring that camaraderie, that 'I've-got-your-back' feel to the team. ... They are big, physical guys, they're 300-pounders that can run like linebackers."
No wonder Andersen believes Polynesian players would be a good fit to the program he is building at UW.
"I think they fit Wisconsin football, just like I think they fit the other programs I've been able to be with the last few years," he said. "The toughness, the work ethic, the family, the culture overall revolves around family.
"That's something that's very important to us at the University of Wisconsin. ... Big, good football players helps, too."