Mum is the word for Wolf Pack football
For the Nevada Appeal
Sports fodder for a Friday morning… What did we learn about the Nevada Wolf Pack football team this spring? Well, we learned from head coach Brian Polian that there are a lot of positives on both sides of the ball and that 4,500 or so fans at the final scrimmage is an amazing show of support. Other than that, well, we didn’t learn a thing. And that was by design. The new coaching staff, it seems, likes to keeps things a mystery. The head coach declared his first 100 days on the job — without any prompting from the media, by the way — a rousing success. Does he get a bonus for lasting 100 days? And the offensive coordinator seemed scared to death to show that his offense knew how to find the end zone for fear that somebody might read about it on the internet. We just have three words concerning the Pack football program right now. Just win, baby.
The Wolf Pack offense this spring looked like it was discovering the pistol for the first time. It was the spring of 2005 all over again. The guess here is that, too, wasn’t by accident. Don’t be surprised if the pistol offense the Pack runs this season looks nothing like the pistol Chris Ault ran the last eight years. Offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich has too much run-and-shoot in his blood to simply run Ault’s offense. We didn’t see any of Rolovich’s Hawaii roots shining through this spring. That also wasn’t an accident. The new regime, from the president and athletic director to the head coach, it seems, is bent on erasing all memories of Ault. Ault’s offense might be the next thing to go.
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Polian seemed awfully proud of himself last Saturday as he talked about his first 100 days on the job. He talked about recruiting, of hiring a new staff and setting operational procedure. In short, he sounded like a guy who had the monumental task of building a program from scratch. Let’s take a closer look at what Polian has actually accomplished so far. He signed a recruiting class that was largely made up of players recruited by Ault or Ault’s staff. He hired a coaching staff that was largely made up of former Ault assistants and friends of his or his dad’s. One of the new coaches that wasn’t a friend of the Polian family (Jeff Genyk) left after a month. Jeff Rowe — a former Ault quarterback — abruptly resigned recently from his athletic department position. Polian is right. It has been a very busy 100 days.
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Polian needs to stop telling everyone that everything is great and fine and wonderful when it isn’t. The Wolf Pack media might be mindless lemmings but Wolf Pack fans aren’t. Yes, the fan base seems energized now because, well, all of the Ault critics feel its safe to come out of the shadows, But that fragile support might only last until halftime on Aug. 31 at UCLA. Polian is a high energy guy. He’s a salesman. He has basically spent his entire career selling athletes on his university and selling himself on one job interview after another. You got the job, Brian. Tone the sales pitch down a few notches. Now go coach.
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What does the new College Football Playoff mean for the Wolf Pack? Nothing. In order to even be in the conversation to play for a national championship the Wolf Pack still needs a season at least two games better than all 60 teams in the SEC, Big 10, Pac 12, Big 12 and ACC as well as Notre Dame. The Pack must also be better than every team in the Sun Belt, Mountain West, MAC, Big East and Conference USA. In other words, there’s a better chance that Polian will name Ault his offensive coordinator next year after Rolovich leaves for another two jobs.
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The NCAA hired a marketing firm to come up with the name College Football Playoff. Can anyone connected with the NCAA do anything without hiring someone else to do it for them? They could have walked into any kindergarten in America, asked the 5-years-olds what they should call the college football playoff, and, after a six-minute lesson on capitalization, could have walked out 10 minutes later with College Football Playoff. And all it would have cost them was a dozen or so juice boxes and cupcakes.
Jackie Robinson deserves all the credit in the world for what he did for major league baseball and American society. But it’s time somebody does a movie on all of the great men who helped Robinson change the sport. Larry Doby made his debut with the Cleveland Indians just 96 days after Robinson. Hank Thompson played for the St. Louis Browns 12 days after Doby. The next year Robinson, Thompson and Doby were joined by the likes of Satchel Paige and Roy Campanella. Don Newcombe, Minnie Minoso, Monte Irvin, Luke Easter and others came to the big leagues in 1949. Robinson made his debut on April 15, 1947. Race relations in baseball weren’t perfect by April 16, 1947. It took decades before real progress was made. Robinson didn’t do it alone. There were a lot of heroes that need to be remembered.