The Blue and Silver caravan is ready to roll.
The University of Nevada’s newest members will be in Fallon at Pizza Barn at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday for a meet-and-greet with Wolf Pack fans.
Wolf Pack Athletic Director Doug Knuth and football coach Brian Polian will engage in a one-hour discussion with fans about the upcoming season.
“For myself and I think coach Polian would say the same thing, it’s been an amazingly warm welcome (to Northern Nevada),” Knuth said. “People are excited that we’re here, and what the possibilities are for the football program, the athletic department and on a bigger scale the university. And if you want to go really big, Northern Nevada. We are excited what this university means to Northern Nevada.”
The Fallon stop is the second-to-last of the caravan, as Knuth and Polian will head to Carson City on Thursday. Knuth, who was hired in March to replace Cary Groth, said he will also make trips to Elko and Winnemucca later this summer.
Polian was hired Jan. 7 after long-time Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault resigned. Polian is the son of former National Football League executive Bill Polian.
He received a five-year, $475,000 base salary and has been in the collegiate level for 16 years. Polian, 38, spent last season as the special teams coordinator at Texas A&M University and also spent time at Stanford (2010-11), Notre Dame (2005-09), Central Florida (2004) and Buffalo (2001-03).
“It’s a chance to get out and see our fans and talk about, what we are all excited about, the upcoming football season,” he said. “We are counting down the weeks and days to the 2013 season.”
Knuth said he and Polian are excited to meet with their Fallon base and expect some lively discussions surrounding the athletic department and football program. Knuth said it is important to listen to the fans about what is important to them.
Another area of emphasis for the first-year AD, though, is to create a gameday experience at Mackay Stadium. Knuth said that process starts with great customer service, providing an energetic atmosphere with tailgating and hopefully culminating with a Wolf Pack victory.
“That’s what college football is,” he added. “The SEC and the Big Ten get the most notoriety for this, and their fans are incredibly rabid. In some ways, it’s a like a pilgrimage to go back to campus, throw the football around and show the kids where mom and dad met. Those kids grow up in it, and someday we hope those kids will want to be part of Wolf Pack nation as well.”
His experience in the Big Ten at Michigan State and recently as an associate athletic director at Utah will be relied on to drive fundraising efforts and increase ticket sales.
“To do that, we have to have a great atmosphere in the stadium,” Knuth said. “We want to make it fun and hope people spend the day on campus, not just three hours at a football game. We want Wolf Pack fans to bring their families, cheer for the Wolf Pack, and have a great day. It does lead to more opportunities to fundraising. It will help us grow the program.”
Knuth’s prior duties at Utah saw him help transition the Utes from the Mountain West to the Pac-12. Coincidentally, Nevada is entering its second season in the Mountain West after leaving the Western Athletic Conference.
Knuth said there are many parallels to the two schools as each upgraded in competition. The two schools dominated their respective conferences, but the moves to better conferences have seen early struggles for both universities.
An area of concern over the years has been the lack of attendance at home games, minus Boise State and UNLV or the occasional home game against Cal or a school from a BCS conference.
“We’ve all seen in the first year that, boy, it’s a lot tougher,” Knuth said. “Money’s not everything in competitive sports, but clearly there’s a correlation that the schools with the larger athletic budgets win more. It starts with our fans and providing great customer service.”
Wolf Pack football camps
The University of Nevada football program will host three camps in June, in Reno and Las Vegas.
The Wolf Pack’s Youth Individual Day Camp is scheduled for June 7 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Wolf Pack Park on the Nevada campus. This Nevada Wolf Pack football camp is designed to teach basic football fundamentals and techniques. This non-contact camp for young athletes entering grades 1-7 and includes drills and skills taught to allow each camper to experience the various phases of the game.
Campers will be grouped by age, size and ability. Cost is $75, which includes a T-shirt.
Nevada’s Rising Star Camp is for football players entering grades 11 and 12 in the fall and this is a non-contact teaching and skills camp. Under the instruction of the full-time Nevada football staff, campers will be taught rules, skills and techniques to enhance their abilities and enjoyment of the game.
It is schedule for June 16 from 1-4 p.m. at Wolf Pack Park. Cost is $30, which includes a T-shirt.
The Friday Night Lights camp is similar to the Rising Star Camp but will be held in Las Vegas on June 21 from 6-9:45 p.m. at Bishop Gorman High School. Cost is $30, and includes a T-shirt.
These three-day camps are in additions to the Wolf Pack football program’s team contact camps, scheduled for June 8-11 and June 13-16. For information about the team camps, visit www.nevadawolfpack.com/camps/m-footbl-camps.html.