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Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

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August 31, 2012
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SANTORO: Groth was OK as AD

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .Has Cary Groth left a lasting impression on the University of Nevada? Hardly. The Groth era, which was stained with constant budget concerns, declining fan interest and mediocrity on the athletic fields and courts, will likely be forgotten as soon as she leaves her athletic director's office this summer. It's not that Groth was a bad athletic director. But she wasn't a good one, either. She was just kind of there, hugging strangers, constantly begging fans to buy tickets and doing little else. She never connected with the community outside of the campus boundaries. The Pack always seemed to be scrambling under Groth. The athletic department stagnated under her leadership, always seemed to be treading water and never seemed to ever build on any momentum.


Groth's record of hiring head coaches was also spotty at best. She didn't hire Chris Ault as football coach or baseball coach Gary Powers and, in fact, always seemed to be a day late (and more than a few dollars short) of ever giving the two Pack legends any show of public support. She technically did hire head basketball coaches Mark Fox and David Carter but they were just down the hall. When Groth had to go outside Legacy Hall to hire a head coach, well, she had many more misses than hits.


Not all of Groth's struggles, it must be noted, have been her fault. Groth happened to fall victim to a rollercoaster era at the university, serving under four presidents. John Lilley, the man who hired her, has been widely considered the worst president in the history of the university. Milt Glick was a nice man but didn't seem to know a thing about sports. The other two - interim Joe Crowley and new president Marc Johnson - didn't work with Groth long enough to have much influence on her. The relationship between the president and the athletic director is vital to the long-term success of the athletic department. It will be good for Johnson to be able to hire his own athletic director.


It's too bad Groth didn't make her announcement a year ago. That way the Pack could have hired former Boise State A.D. Gene Bleymaier as her replacement. Bleymaier, the brains behind getting Boise State to the coveted next level, took the A.D. job at San Jose State this summer. He would have been perfect for Nevada for a lot of reasons. The first reason is that he has a proven track record of success. The second reason is that he is a former football man who would have worked wonderfully with Ault. And the third reason is that he would have loved to beat the heck out of Boise.


Since we're on the subject of the Wolf Pack connecting with the community, this weekend's football game at California is crucial to this entire season. A victory at Cal and Northern Nevada will get excited about Pack football. The crowds will be bigger this year just because of the move to the Mountain West and because Boise State is coming to town on Dec. 1 but there won't be a dramatic jump in attendance if the Pack loses on Saturday. The Pack needs a win at Berkeley for the confidence of the community and for the confidence of the players.


It is difficult to predict how this Wolf Pack football season will turn out. It looks like an 8-4 record and a bowl game is a distinct possibility but that might be an unfair and optimistic prediction. This is a program, after all, that went 7-6 last year and is filled with questions this fall. There are three new coaches on offense and the defensive staff now has one less member. The defense on the field is as young and raw as it has been in recent memory, and the offense might be biting off more than it can chew with its combination of pistol/run-and-shoot playbook. The good news is that after Cal, the schedule lightens up dramatically until Boise comes in after Thanksgiving. So expect an 8-4 record with a chance at 9-3 if a miracle or two takes place.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Aug 31, 2012 02:26AM Published Aug 31, 2012 02:24AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.