Wolf Pack mediocrity | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack mediocrity

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … It’s not Brian Polian’s fault. Yes, the Nevada Wolf Pack football team is a disappointing 3-4 with losses to two awful (UNLV, Wyoming) teams. And, yes, Polian is just 14-18 in his Wolf Pack career. But the Wolf Pack isn’t anything more than a mediocre football program because of Polian. The Wolf Pack has been mediocre for a very long time with only brief flashes of excellence sprinkled in to keep our expectations unjustifiably high. The Pack is now 114-114 since the start of the 1997 season. Look up mediocrity in the dictionary and you’ll see that spiffy new Wolf Pack helmet staring back at you. We are now in Year 19 of Wolf Pack mediocrity with no real end in sight. When it smells like a mediocre football program, when it walks like a mediocre football program and when it talks like a mediocre football program, it just might be a mediocre football program. All Polian has done is take a run of the mill, pedestrian, mediocre football program and kept it right where he found it.

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What, exactly, did you expect from Polian in his first few years as head coach? Conference titles, bowl victories and parades down Virginia Street? When you hire a special teams coach to be your head coach you have to expect a frustrating, extended learning curve. Polian did come from big-time programs and has a big-time last name but just because you drive a Rolls Royce doesn’t always mean you own the Rolls Royce. Sometimes you are just the chauffeur. But give Polian time. We owe him that. The Pack owes him that. He’ll should win at Nevada eventually. And, don’t forget, the Pack isn’t a Rolls Royce. It is a Ford Taurus and eventually Polian will save enough to buy that Ford Taurus.

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The beauty of the Mountain West is that your season is never over. There is always another dreadful team coming along on your schedule to make you feel good about yourself. Two weeks ago it was New Mexico and this week the punching bag is Hawaii, a team that makes UNLV and Wyoming look like the 1985 Chicago Bears. Despite what has happened in recent weeks, the Wolf Pack can still win the West Division and go to the conference title game. OK, stop laughing. We know you’ve heard this one before. But the reality is that the Pack is just two games behind San Diego State and the two teams will meet in San Diego in late November. The Aztecs also could very well lose to Utah State and Colorado State before then. But don’t get too excited. Winning the division doesn’t mean the Pack has suddenly turned into a good football team. It just means that in a race of Ford Tauruses, they were the ones whose wheels didn’t explode and their doors didn’t fall off when they hit 55 mph.

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Losses to Wyoming and UNLV over a three-game stretch is bad enough. But a loss to Hawaii at home this Saturday would be a gigantic red flag and signify that there are some deep-seeded problems in the We-Are-Family Polian regime. Hawaii beats nobody on the road. They are 1-21 on the road since Norm Chow became head coach in 2012. Wolf Pack quarterback Tyler Stewart beat the Rainbow Warriors back in 2013 by three touchdowns at Mackay Stadium when he only knew about three plays. Hawaii is the ultimate homecoming opponent. They are the Washington Generals, the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs and the 2008 Detroit Lions. If you lose to Hawaii at home you need to turn your football stadium into a mobile home park and conduct a swap meet on the weekend.

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This Wolf Pack football team right now is underachieving like no Pack team in recent memory. How do you lose to Wyoming and UNLV? And don’t believe all of that Polian Propaganda that Wyoming was better than its 0-6 record. Wyoming deserved to be 0-6 and earned every one of those six losses. They should be 0-7 right now. What Polian should say is that this Pack team is indeed better than its record. But that would suggest that the coaching staff isn’t doing its job so you’ll never hear that from Polian, who insists every week that the Pack has had a great week of practice and the team is well prepared for every opponent. When you have weapons like Don Jackson, James Butler, Hasaan Henderson, Lenny Jones, Ian Seau, Jerico Richardson, Austin Corbett, Jarred Gipson, Rykeem Yates, Matt Lyons, Brent Zuzo, Alex Boy and Tyler Stewart, you simply should not lose to UNLV or Wyoming (or Hawaii, Fresno State and San Jose State the next three weeks). It’s time the coaching staff gets the most out of all this talent.

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Polian’s head coaching career is now on the clock. The Wolf Pack needs to win at least two (yes, our standards are that low right now) of its next five games to keep the Purge Polian fever from reaching a boiling point. There is no way the Pack will fire Polian after this year. Next year, maybe. But not this year. They will win at least three of their last five games and stop the bleeding for now. But if the losses to UNLV and Wyoming did anything, they started the Purge Polian clock to start ticking. Polian is not a Battle Born Nevadan. He hasn’t exactly formed any sort of connection with former coach Chris Ault or Ault’s players. He’s lost two of his first three games against UNLV. He has a losing record. He lost to an 0-6 team. He’s lost the confidence of the community. So the Purge Polian camp is forming as we speak. There is still time to fix things but it’s already been a tough year. He embarrassed the program with his sideline ranting and raving earlier in the year and now he’s embarrassing it by losing to UNLV and Wyoming. The villagers are starting to light their torches and are ready to storm the Polian castle.

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Polian came to the Wolf Pack with a ton of red flags. He was just a special teams coach. Nobody hires a special teams coach to be a head coach at the Division I-A level. He had no connection to Nevada. Yes, he coached at big-time programs but he never made any important decisions at those programs. Polian’s hiring was strange and out of the silver and blue. It was obvious he just wanted to be a Division I head coach and he didn’t care where he had to go to do it. And the Pack wanted to separate itself from Ault as much as possible. The Pack and Polian filled each other’s needs. It was simply a marriage of convenience. All of this doesn’t mean he can’t become a success at Nevada. Winning at Nevada is no great trick. All you have to do is beat the teams you are supposed to beat. That was Ault’s formula for three decades. And that is all Pack fans require. Just don’t embarrass them or the program. Right now it is a bit embarrassing. The Fremont Cannon, after all, is red right now. Teams that can’t beat any other Division I-A team are beating the Pack. But it’s not too late. When you hire someone like Polian you have to give him time to grow into the job. All that is happening now is that he is experiencing growing pains. So don’t light those torches just yet. But keep the matches handy.