(Na) Polian meets his Waterloo
Two season-ending wins against the bottom of the Mountain West barrel couldn’t save Brian Polian’s job. We would have been disappointed if Polian would have stayed longer after this year’s disastrous Wolf Pack football season.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall after the first game when the Pack edged Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in overtime by a field goal.
Given four years to make the Pack a contender, Polian took the program to new depths, always having an excuse for plays that never unfolded as intended or referees who made the wrong or bad calls or the team’s performance. Very rarely did we hear of him taking responsibility.
At several home games — Wyoming and San Diego State — the Pack did not look prepared to step on the field against these two teams. An embarrassing home loss to San Diego State may have been the Polian’s Waterloo.
Then came wins against lowly Utah State University, which the Pack pulled out in the final quarter, and the win against cross-state rival UNLV, only the second win in his four years at the helm. The other two wins of the season — Buffalo and Fresno — were against teams that also had losing records.
A coach’s career at a university is based on two things: wins and the number of people in the seats. His overall record at Nevada in four years is 23-27, which included a pair of 7-6 teams. The last 7-6 team (2015) played in a bowl game in Tucson (a reward for mediocrity) and actually won … by defeating another Mountain West team.
Now for the seats in the stands … from 22,411 at the Fresno game, the number of fans began to dwindle. On homecoming night, only 18,777 die-hard fans (or those not as tired of his bull) showed up and fewer fans saw San Diego State.
Yet, at the final home game of the season, Seniors Day, 13,390 attended the game to say their farewells to those players who won’t don the Blue and Silver again.
Now, Nevada’s athletics director needs to make another important pick for a coach and to a position that pays substantially less than other Mountain West coaches. Doug Knuth, who hired Eric Musselman to turn around the men’s basketball program, has the Midas touch so far. Can he make it work for the football program?
Paying an exorbitant salary for a coach is the norm now, not the exception, so how will the Wolf Pack put together a compensation package that doesn’t rob the community like a quarter-million dollar Hillary Clinton speech at UNLV? Would former Nevada offensive line coach Chris Klenakis return to Nevada although he is making $605,000 a year at Louisville, more than what Polian earns? Having a coach with Nevada ties may help. Perhaps coaching at Nevada would be Klenakis’ dream job!
It’s back to the drawing board, hoping Knuth’s magic will produce an oil painting and not an etch-a-sketch.
Editorials written by the Editorial Board appear on Wednesdays.