Ault's QB decision should not be a shocker

By JOE SANTORO

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Chris Ault naming Colin Kaepernick the Wolf Pack's starting quarterback heading into fall practices next week is sort of like Ault announcing that his grandchildren know not to buy him a UNLV-red tie or sweater for Christmas. No kidding. Of course Kaepernick is the starter right now. Nick Graziano is coming off a serious foot injury. He only played a month last year. He missed all of spring football. Kaepernick was one of the best freshmen in the country last year. He has more experience running the Pistol offense in game situations than Graziano. Ault is absolutely right. There is no quarterback controversy at the University of Nevada. Not yet.

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Kaepernick " at 6-foot-6 with the legs of Michael Vick and the heart of Brett Favre under pressure " is a special athlete. No question. The things he did last year after getting thrown into the fire in the middle of the season were remarkable. There is no reason to even suggest that he won't just hit the ground running this year and never relinquish the starting job. He could turn out to be one of the best to ever play the position down on North Virginia Street. But you do, however, have to feel for Graziano. It's tough to lose your job because of an injury. This was a guy who tossed five touchdown passes against Nicholls State and then turned in one of the best performances by a quarterback in the Wolf Pack-Rebels rivalry last fall. Here's hoping that Ault finds a way to use both quarterbacks this season at meaningful times.

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Ault, though, also commented last week that he is not a two-quarterback guy. He said he doesn't plan on using two quarterbacks and that he doesn't like to use two quarterbacks. Remember the Fred Gatlin-Chris Vargas mess in the early 1990s? So it doesn't really look good for Graziano right now. Two-headed, four-legged quarterbacks just don't work. When you use two quarterbacks you end up with two guys who are always looking over their shoulders afraid to make mistakes. And you also get an offense in search of a true leader.

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The most important comment Ault made last week at the Western Athletic Conference's two-day media party in Salt Lake City was how he called out the defense. Ault said, "the key for us (this season) is we have to make significant improvement on defense." He also added that the defense "didn't have emotion last year." The Pack will have a great offense, no matter who is taking snaps under center. Again, Ault is absolutely right. It's all about the defense this year.

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Ken Griffey Jr. to the Chicago White Sox makes no sense. White Sox general manager Kenny Williams thinks he's running a fantasy team. What do the White Sox need with another old, lazy, home run hitter who can't run or play defense anymore? The White Sox now have four corner outfielders " Griffey, Carlos Quentin, Jermaine Dye and Nick Swisher " and no center fielders. They also have a guy (Jim Thome) who can't play a position and a first baseman (Paul Konerko) who can't hit anymore. Griffey playing center in Chicago will be like Willie Mays in center for the New York Mets.

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If you think Tim Donaghy, who will spend the next 15 months in prison, is the only cheating referee in basketball, think again. This is also not just a sports betting issue. This is about referees affecting the outcome of games. Sports betting is not the only way to accomplish that dirty deed. This is an issue that the NBA and the NCAA needs to investigate very thoroughly. Bobby Knight once said that if you are worried about games being fixed, don't look at the players. Look at the officials.

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The trading deadline day is just another reason why major league baseball is better than the NFL. You get important trades during the NFL season once every decade. If Brett Favre was a major league pitcher, he would have been traded weeks ago. In the NFL it's easier to get a new franchise and build a new stadium than it is to make a trade.

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The Green Bay Packers reportedly are now considering a ridiculous notion of trading Favre to either the Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears. Are the Packers insane? Do they really want to see Favre on the opposing sideline wearing Vikings purple on Sept. 8 to open the season? The Red Sox would never trade Manny Ramirez to the New York Yankees. The Packers should never even joke about dealing Favre to the Vikes or Bears. Favre, though, is driving the Packers crazy. The cheeseheads are losing focus, folks. All those years of sprinkling bits of bratwurst on their Corn Flakes and melting cheese in their coffee in the morning is finally clouding their decision-making abilities.

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The Sacramento Kings made a fabulous deal with the Houston Rockets this week by getting rid of Ron Artest. The Kings will get (the deal won't become official for two weeks) an old, backup guard (Bobby Jackson), a 6-foot-9 youngster with a world of talent (Donte Greene) and a first-round pick for the pain-in-the-neck thug Artest.

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Artest is already having words with Rockets center Yao Ming. Ming, when asked about the deal with the Kings, just made an innocent statement, saying that he hopes Artest isn't fighting anymore and going into the stands after guys. Artest replied by saying that, "I'm ghetto" and Ming has "never played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture." Artest has already insulted all of his black teammates on the Rockets before he even steps a foot into the Houston city limits. He's your problem now, Rockets. Good luck.

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