RENO - Chris Ault just cringed when he heard the question.
Does Colin Kaepernick need to beat Boise State on Friday night to secure his legacy as a truly great quarterback?
It's not that Ault doubts the validity of the question. He's heard the same question, after all, asked about himself in not-so-subtle whispers after all three frustrating losses to Boise State the past three years.
Ault, though, can take it. His legacy is secure. The man, after all, is already in four Halls of Fame, his high school's, UNLV's, Nevada's and college football's.
It's just that it bothers him when someone asks such silly questions about one of his players.
"That's a sad question to have to ask," the Nevada head coach said this week as his No. 19 Wolf Pack prepared for its Western Athletic Conference showdown with No. 4 Boise State at Mackay Stadium.
"I understand that's what some people think. I know that's out there. But it's just sad."
The simple, easy answer to the question is "don't bother me with such stupid questions."
Kaepernick, who will own every important record for quarterbacks in Wolf Pack history, doesn't need to do anything else to prove that he is a truly great player.
"No question," Ault said.
Kaepernick is one of the greatest quarterbacks in NCAA history let alone Wolf Pack history. The senior is fourth in NCAA history in quarterback rushing yards (3,890) and third in quarterback rushing touchdowns (55). With another 16 yards rushing, he will become the first quarterback in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season three times and the first to have three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
If that's not greatness, well, here's a few more numbers to think about: He is first in school history in total offense (13,378) and touchdown passes (80) and second in completions (688) and passing yards (9,488). He is, without question, one of the most explosive players in college football history and a sure-thing future Wolf Pack Hall of Fame member.
Yeah, but he hasn't beaten Boise.
That remains the gigantic elephant in the Colin Kaepernick Hall of Fame room. Make no mistake, he's played well against the Broncos, passing for 625 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in three games.
But he's also never beaten them, going 0-3.
If that record ends up at 0-4 by late Friday night, the sad truth is that Kaepernick will always and forever be known as a great quarterback who never won the important game (0-3 in bowls), never won a WAC title.
Never beat Boise.
"He knows what people think," Ault said. "And I've talked with him about it."
Kaepernick, who rarely gives a glimpse into his personal feelings, deflected the question this week about what it would means to him personally to finally beat Boise.
"For me, it's just one more step on the way to winning a WAC championship," Kaepernick said.
With Kaepernick, you must understand, every answer to every question comes down to the glory of his university, his teammates, his coaches, God, country and family. If Sharon Angle was as well coached as Kaepernick on public speaking Harry Reid would be out of job right now.
"Oh, he'll never talk about it," said Ault, of the "When will Kaepernick beat Boise?" questions. "But he knows what's at stake."
You bet he knows.
Don't misunderstand Kaepernick's emotionless, vanilla answers to every question. Kaepernick, down deep, is one of the most competitive players to ever put on a Wolf Pack uniform. In any sport. He is a great player. If you spend about 30 seconds with him you discover that he is an even greater young man.
He's the type of kid you'd want your daughter to marry. Heck, you wouldn't blame your wife if she ran off with him. If they ever do another Heisman sculpture Kaepernick should be the model.
Nobody has ever taken the privilege of playing quarterback at Nevada, something that Ault just doesn't give to just anyone, more seriously than Kaepernick. Nobody works harder to be a true leader on and off the field and nobody represents the University of Nevada better than Kaepernick.
You bet he wants to beat Boise. You bet he wants all of the blemishes on his resume at Nevada to vanish. It's just that he's not going to talk about it. You don't beat Boise, after all, with talk.
And he doesn't have to talk about it. He also doesn't have to beat anybody to secure his place as one of the most amazing athletes this university has ever produced.
"If you say something like that (that Kaepernick needs to beat Boise to be called truly great), then you should look at yourself," Ault said.
The Boise game is just one night. Just one game. Kaepernick will be just one of 11 Pack players on the field. He's not 0-3 against Boise the last three years. The Wolf Pack is 0-3.
But Kaepernick also knows that he has been the face of this program ever since a magical afternoon at Mackay Stadium in 2007 when he stepped onto the field for an injured Nick Graziano.
Wolf Pack football changed forever from that moment on. His life changed.
It became the Kaepernick era. And that era will reach its defining moment Friday night.
"To me, it's more about a team effort than something personal," said Kaepernick of what it would mean to him to beat Boise. "This football team hasn't beaten Boise in quite a few years now."
Try a dozen. The Pack is 0-10 against the bullies from Boise State since a Jeff Tisdel-coached, David Neill-quarterbacked Pack beat Boise in 1998.
Kaepernick was all of 11-years-old the last time the Pack beat Boise. So you can't blame all of the frustrations against Boise on him.
Actually, you shouldn't blame any of it on him. He's played his heart out in all three games against Boise. He left a little piece of his soul on each one of those fields.
That's why if you have any silver and blue blood flowing through your veins (or even if your blood is simply red), you have to be pulling for Colin Kaepernick Friday night.
Remember, the game is not about proving Kaepernick is a great player. That has already been proven. Win or lose on Friday, Kaepernick's legacy is as secure as Ault's. His picture will be on a plaque in Legacy Hall in exactly 10 years. His name will be atop all of the records for decades to come.
A win over Boise, though, is about so much more than that. A win over Boise will do something even more special, even more lasting than putting Kaepernick's name in a Hall of Fame or record book.
It will complete him as a Wolf Pack quarterback.
Kaepernick will forever be known as the greatest Wolf Pack player who quarterbacked the greatest victory in Wolf Pack history.
And that is certainly not something to cringe at.