Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

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February 27, 2014
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Friday Fodder: Pack teams still figuring out Mountain West

Sports fodder for a Friday morning ... The Nevada Wolf Pack’s move to the Mountain West has yet to pay off for the school’s top three high profile sports. The football, men’s basketball and baseball teams have gone a combined 29-52 in Mountain West play over the last two years. None of the big three has even finished with a winning Mountain West record yet. We’ve seen this sort of mediocrity before when the Pack joined a new conference. Football didn’t finish with a winning record until its sixth year in the Western Athletic Conference. Baseball and men’s basketball waited until the third year. So have patience, Pack fans. The Pack eventually figured out how to win in the WAC and similar success will arrive in the Mountain West which, after all, is just the old WAC with a new logo.

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What are the Wolf Pack’s chances of qualifying for a men’s basketball postseason tournament? Not good. The Pack needs to win the Mountain West tournament to get a NCAA Tournament spot. That isn’t reality. They would also have to finish at least .500 to get one of the 80 spots in either the NIT, CBI or CIT (the basketball version of the New Mexico Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl). The Pack would have to win at least two of its remaining three regular season games to get to 15-16 and then would have to win at least two Mountain West tournament games. That is not an impossible task but it also will require more consistency and focus than they have showed the last two years combined.

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Everything, however, points to the Wolf Pack pulling off a huge upset on Sunday against New Mexico. Yes, we understand New Mexico slapped the Pack around two weeks ago in Albuquerque. But this game will be different. It’s a home game for the Wolf Pack. Odds are Deonte Burton won’t be suffering from the flu this time. The Lobos can’t possibly take the Pack, a team that lost to San Jose State just 10 days ago, all that seriously. New Mexico’s Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow can’t possibly play as well as they did against the Pack last time. New Mexico, which has all but secured a NCAA Tournament berth, really doesn’t have all that much to play for. The Pack’s season is hanging by a thread. The Pack plays its best when everyone doubts them. Burton is going to play as if his shorts are on fire. His legacy at Nevada depends on the next three weeks.

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ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski doesn’t think Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is worthy of being drafted in the top three rounds. Well, that’s why Jaworski is on TV and not coaching or in some NFL front office. Manziel is, at worst, the second best talent in this draft behind Jadeveon Clowney. The Houston Texans, just because they are in Texas, need a quarterback and compete with the Dallas Cowboys for attention, should take Manziel with the No. 1 pick. Manziel is a true leader, an incredible competitor, an amazing athlete and can make plays with his arm, legs, mind and heart. All of those qualities are rarely found in one quarterback.

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Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith wants major league baseball’s opening day to become a national holiday. Stop laughing. It’s a wonderful idea. It’s about time our government does something to make the lives of its sports fans easier. And they shouldn’t stop at just baseball’s opening day. How about the Monday after the Super Bowl? The first two days of the men’s basketball NCAA tournament? Every single Monday of the NFL season? Each day of the NFL draft? That’s a start. We should also be given the option of taking three or four personal national holidays, you know, in case our favorite teams get to the World Series, NBA Finals, NCAA men’s hoops Final Four or Stanley Cup finals.

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The Cleveland Browns-San Francisco 49ers rumored trade talks involving 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh are bizarre. Everyone is well aware that Harbaugh and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke aren’t exactly the best of friends. But Baalke would be run out of the Bay area if he got rid of Harbaugh. Unless that trade with the Browns involved a young Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Paul Warfield and Marion Motley and a lifetime pass to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the 49ers would be fools to even entertain the thought. Harbaugh is the heart and soul of this franchise right now and arguably one of the top five coaches in the league. He’s the biggest reason why the 49ers have gotten to three consecutive NFC title games. He is joined at the hip with quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers are on the verge of winning multiple Super Bowls. This would be the absolute worst time for them to get rid of their leader.


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The Nevada Appeal Updated Feb 27, 2014 11:59PM Published Feb 27, 2014 11:59PM Copyright 2014 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.