Friday Fodder: Nevada football earned media’s lack of respect
July 25, 2014
If you believe the Nevada Wolf Pack football team was disrespected by the Mountain West's media this week, well, you are right. But the Wolf Pack has nobody to blame but itself after three underachieving seasons in a row. The media picked the Pack to finish third in the West Division behind Fresno State and San Diego State and ahead of lowly UNLV, San Jose State and Hawaii. The Pack also placed just one player (Brock Hekking) — UNLV had three — on the All-Mountain West Preseason team. Yes, the media is sleeping on the Wolf Pack. But that's only because the Pack has been asleep since 2010. This is the year, though, that the program wakes up. The league's talent level is drastically down from a year ago so the Pack is as talented as any team in the conference. But the time for talk and predictions is over. You have to do it on the field. And the Pack hasn't done anything on the field since 2010.
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That 2010 season (13-1 record, No. 11 national ranking) has been a blessing and a curse for the Wolf Pack program. That landmark year has set a standard for Wolf Pack football that, well, the program can't possibly live up to. The Pack has gone just 18-20 since 2010 and the program seems to be stuck in the mud of mediocrity. Well, it's time to put 2010 in the trophy case where it belongs and forget it for a while. That season, unfortunately, wasn't the start of a new era of Pack football. It was merely a one-time blessing when everything — talent, coaching, schedule, luck — lined up perfectly for one glorious season. Think Matthew McConaughey winning an Oscar for best actor.
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Wolf Pack football won't grow and progress until all of the comparisons to the past stop. Stop comparing Brian Polian to Chris Ault. Stop comparing Cody Fajardo to Colin Kaepernick. Stop comparing the Pack's current situation as a Division I-A mid-major with meaningless bowl games to the exciting Division I-AA playoff days when a national championship was the goal. Embrace the past. Cherish the past. Honor everyone who made the past possible. But stop throwing the past into the faces of the current players and coaches.
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The Boise State Broncos football team could be in for a rude awakening this year despite what the Mountain West media thinks (the media picked the Broncos to win the division). Chris Peterson is no longer the head coach, having jumped to the Washington Huskies. In comes Bryan Harsin, a Boise native and former Bronco player and coach. Harsin tutored former Boise quarterback Kellen Moore and earned his reputation as an offensive coach. Harsin, though, announced this week that he's giving the offensive play calling duties to young coach Mike Sanford (the son of the former UNLV coach with the same name). Of course, nobody believes it, just like nobody believed Ault was really going to allow Nick Rolovich to call the plays at Nevada in 2012. It could be a trying year of transition for the Broncos in 2014 and Utah State could steal the division title while Harsin and Sanford are arguing about which play to call.
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Kevin Love is sure getting a ton of respect. It seems that whichever team Love is traded to this summer — the frontrunners are the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls — that team will immediately be the Eastern Conference favorite. Is Love really that good or has he just been the best player on a bad team? Love is really that good. Love has averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds in his Minnesota Timberwolves career despite playing with point guards such as J.J. Barea, Ricky Rubio, Sebastian Telfair, Jonny Flynn, Luke Ridnour and — my apologies, Wolf Pack fans — Ramon Sessions. Just think what he can do with either Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving.
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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced this week that the NCAA is broken and that cheating pays in college sports. Next week Bowlsby will announce that the sun will set in the west, the earth is round, some roses are red and that you shouldn't believe everything you read on Twitter. Here's the deal on college sports. Everyone knows the NCAA is a mess. Everyone knows that everyone cheats in college sports if they can get away with it. And, yes, they can get away with it because the NCAA is a mess. And nobody cares. The fans don't care. The college presidents, athletic directors and coaches don't care. And the players don't care. The only time anyone cares is when they get caught or when someone else is a better cheater than they are.
— Joe Santoro writes a weekly sports column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.