Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

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August 15, 2011
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Time for Pack to move on and go win some games

Learn more about: High School Football

OK, we get it. This year's Nevada Wolf Pack football schedule is a cruel joke.

"This is a unique schedule," Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault said recently at the Western Athletic Conference football media gathering in Las Vegas.

Unique is about as politically correct as Ault could put it. The old ball coach, though, was just warming up.

"It is what it is," Ault said. "We play four in a row on the road."

In case you have been living up in Boise the last eight or nine months you've probably heard that the Wolf Pack opens up its 2011 season on the road at Oregon, San Jose State, Texas Tech and, yes, Boise State.

"Obviously there are some terrific challenges there," Ault said, reminding everyone once again just how difficult that cold, hard, cruel schedule is for a little WAC football team from The Biggest Little City in the World.

Just so we understand fully what this Wolf Pack team is up against, what kind of challenges are we talking about?

"We have some tremendous challenges," Ault said later.

Tremendous. Terrific. Whatever. Let's move on.

Moving on, though, isn't exactly what Ault does best about a sore subject. It never has been and never will be. Ault hasn't let this challenging schedule issue rest since his athletic director dumped that game at Boise State on him last fall, right smack dab in the middle of the greatest football season in the history of the school.

Ault didn't hide his displeasure last fall at having to go to Boise State and, well, he's still not hiding it. He'd rather buy a red car with red interior sporting a UNLV license plate holder, spot Colin Kaepernick at a San Francisco Giants game wearing a Boise State sweatshirt and coach women's soccer before going up to Boise State to play a football game he doesn't have to play.

"I am involved in scheduling now," Ault offered, out of the blue, at the WAC media party last week. "That's all I can say right now."

Of course, that wasn't all he could say. He went on to say volumes about his relationship with "the athletic director" and his role moving forward as head football coach of The Biggest Little Football Team in the World.

"It took care of itself," Ault said.

Yeah, right.

Ault didn't become the greatest football coach in the history of this state, the most influential athletic director in the history of the school and a College Football Hall of Famer by simply letting things "take care of itself." Those that let things "take care of itself" end up adding Texas-San Antonio, Denver, Texas State and Seattle to their conference.

Things don't take care of themselves when Ault is around. Ault takes care of things, especially when those things involve his football program. Always has. Always will.

"The A.D. has been very accommodating," Ault said.

Why wouldn't the A.D. be accommodating? There was a little matter of the greatest football coach in the history of the state signing a two-year extension this off-season, don't forget. You certainly don't want to be the A.D. who let the greatest football coach in the history of the state walk away after he turned in the greatest football season in the history of the state, now do you?

"The A.D. should always have final say in any program," Ault said.

Yeah, right.

This, don't forget, isn't just any program. This is Chris Ault's football program. Ault made sure his A.D. remembered that little fact this past off-season because, well, she obviously forgot it last fall when she scheduled this silly weekend trip to Boise State.

That won't likely happen ever again as long as The Biggest Little Football Coach is around. Ault, as he announced in Las Vegas, is involved in scheduling now.

"Input from sources that are involved in it need to have their stamp on it and that's what transpired at our university," Ault explained.

OK, great. Now let's move on. Please?

It's time Ault puts all this scheduling testosterone power struggle to bed. Stop talking about it. It's going to be tough. OK, we get it. Now move on.

The time for complaining and whining about your scary, frightening, big, bad, old, schedule is over. If we didn't know better, we'd assume Ault was just laying the foundation for a bucket load of excuses for a 1-3 start.

But we know better, right? Ault doesn't make excuses. Right? There's no need for excuses after a 13-1 season and a No. 11 national ranking. Right?

What Ault meant to say in Las Vegas, we're sure, is that now is the time to take that gruesome, ghastly, grisly Cary Groth schedule by the scruff of its gross, gloomy, glum, grave neck and strangle it to death.

You know, just like the 2010 team did so wonderfully.

Did the 2010 team remind the world each and every day how difficult it would be to beat Boise State, BYU, Fresno State and Cal last year? Did they tremble and shake? Of course not. Actually, those four games were the only games the 2010 team got excited about all year. They were bored against everybody else (and played like it).

When the 2010 group smelled BYU, Cal, Fresno and Boise on the schedule their mouths started to water in anticipation of a glorious kill. And then they went out and devoured them.

That's the attitude this team needs to adopt. Oregon? Yum. Boise State? Tasty. Texas Tech? Pass the salt, please.

Ault needs to remind his team that they are the defending No. 11 ranked team in the nation. They beat Boise State last year. They beat San Jose State. They can go to Texas Tech and beat a middle of the road Big 12 team. That's what being ranked No. 11 in the nation means. Oregon? What a fantastic opportunity.

Yes, it is a tough schedule. Nobody is questioning that statement. But it is also a schedule filled with unbelievable rewards. And, for that, the A.D. must also be commended.

"Every single game for us has meaning," Ault said. "Every game gets bigger and bigger, whether it's home or away."

What more can you ask from a schedule?

So, yes, it's tough. So what? You want easy? Then go back to being 7-6 and 6-7 every year. You'll get a lot of easy schedules that way.

The problem with going 13-1 and finishing No. 11 in the nation is that expectations rise. You want to be better than No. 11 in the nation? Well, you have to play a schedule that will allow it. This schedule will allow it.

Nobody has to tell you what it would mean for the Wolf Pack (or any team in the nation, for that matter) to go to Oregon and win. Texas Tech would also be a solid statement game on the road. And beating Boise State for the second year in a row, this time at Boise State? Just the thought of it should send chills down your silver & blue spine.

Ault, though, sounded like Al Gore on election night for much of his WAC media day talk.

"You can't change the schedule," he said. "It's there. It's reality."

Ault, it seems, would like you to believe that his Wolf Pack have the toughest schedule in the world. Well, it's time for a little perspective. You can argue who has it tougher, but every team in the WAC will be faced with those terrific and tremendous challenges Ault spoke of last week.

Idaho plays at Texas A&M and Virginia. Louisiana Tech plays at Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State and against Houston. San Jose State plays at Stanford, UCLA and BYU. Fresno State has to go to Cal and Nebraska and San Diego State and will host Boise and Mississippi. Utah State goes to Auburn and BYU. New Mexico State has to travel to Minnesota, Georgia and BYU. And Hawaii goes to Washington and will invite Tulane, BYU and Colorado to the island.

A tough schedule is just a fact of life in today's college football landscape for a mid-major school whose conference isn't guaranteed a BCS game. Would the Wolf Pack be better served by playing a punching bag Big Sky Conference team at home on Oct. 1 instead of going to Boise State?

Of course.

The A.D. made a mistake. So what. Believe it or not, the old A.D. was known to make a mistake or two now and then. It comes with the job. The A.D., it seems, learned a thing or two about crafting a football schedule because of her mistake thanks to Professor Ault.

Now let's move on.

And go win some football games.

Article Topics: High School Football

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 15, 2011 11:11PM Published Aug 15, 2011 11:10PM Copyright 2011 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.