Pack should be Ragin in New Orleans
December 12, 2014
Sports fodder for a Friday morning …The Nevada Wolf Pack should beat the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns by three touchdowns in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 20. Yes, it will be just like a home game for the Ragin Cajuns, whose fans can jump in their pick-up trucks the morning of the game and get to the Superdome by kickoff. And we all know the Pack's 3-8 record in bowl games since joining Division I-A in 1992. But the Ragin Cajuns are by far the worst team the Pack has played in a bowl game. Central Florida (2005 Hawaii Bowl) owned that distinction but the Knights had future NFL players Brandon Marshall, Matt Prater, Kevin Smith and Josh Sitton. The Ragin Cajuns play in the Sun Belt, the only conference in America that would take ex-WAC patsies Idaho and New Mexico State. Cody Fajardo will do what Colin Kaepernick couldn't do in the Feb., 2013 Super Bowl — win a bowl game in the Superdome.
Will Wolf Pack coach Brian Polian leave the program if he beats Louisiana Lafayette and finishes with an 8-5 record? It's not likely but don't rule it out. Polian, like most coaches, is a professional job seeker. It's what they do, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Former Utah State coach Gary Andersen is leaving Wisconsin (for Oregon State) after just two years. And don't forget Jeff Horton left the Pack after just one season for UNLV. So it can happen quickly. Polian only came to Nevada because the Pack was the only school willing to make a special teams coach a head coach. Polian is not just a special teams coach anymore. He's now a head coach who has proven he can win. Some bottom-rung-of-the-ladder Power Five Conference school might take a chance on him.
The Mountain West is the symbol of the mediocrity that has overwhelmed college football. A total of 76 teams, more than half of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools, will play in a bowl the next two months. The Mountain West, a conference nobody paid attention to this season, is sending seven teams to bowl games. One of those teams (Fresno State at 6-7) is the only one among the 76 bowl teams that has a losing record. Coaches will tell you that bowl games are rewards for jobs well done because, as everyone knows, college football players don't already have enough rewards. Most bowl games, in reality, are simply parting gifts for mediocre jobs done somewhat well. In reality, most of them only exist because ESPN needs programming the last two weeks of December. And they are also an easy way to give mediocre coaches a nice bonus every year because, as everyone knows, they are so vastly underpaid otherwise.
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It looks like Oregon's Marcus Mariotta is going to win the Heisman Trophy this weekend. If Mariotta was smart he'd walk up to the podium take a deep breath and say, 'Thanks but no thanks." The Heisman is a kiss of death for quarterbacks. The only quarterback who has won the trophy and gone on to NFL greatness is Roger Staubach. Only a few others, like Vinny Testaverde and Jim Plunket, enjoyed solid NFL careers. Others had to change their careers (Paul Hornung became a running back, Steve Spurrier became a coach, Charlie Ward became a point guard, Davey O'Brien had another trophy named after him) to achieve professional notoriety. The bulk of the Heisman-winning quarterbacks have been NFL flops (Troy Smith, Jason White, Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke, Danny Wuerffel, Gino Torretta, Andre Ware and the list goes on and on). Jameis Winston is turning into a flop and he hasn't even gotten to the NFL, yet.
The Los Angeles Dodgers must have really wanted to get rid of Matt Kemp. Who trades one of the best players in the game for Yasmani Grandal and two minor league pitchers? Yes, one of the minor leaguers is former Bishop Manogue pitcher Joe Wieland but unless the Dodgers are out to beat Reno High, they didn't get enough for Kemp. They obviously just wanted his contract off their payroll and his presence out of their locker room. Kemp has Most Valuable Player talent but his career as a premier slugger will probably dry up and fade away now he's in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Kemp has gone from driving in Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez one year to driving in Yonder Alonso, Jedd Gyorko, Yangervis Solarte and Will Venable the next. The Dodgers are not better without Kemp, let alone Hanley Ramirez. They are just different.
On the surface it looks like the Oakland A's have seen the last of their playoff days for a while. General manager Billy Beane has traded away Jeff Donaldson, Jeff Samardzija and Brandon Moss. He made no effort to bring back Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Alberto Callaspo and Luke Gregerson and will also likely lose Jed Lowrie. Forget all that. The A's still have Sonny Gray, A.J. Griffin, Scott Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Jesse Chavez and Sean Doolittle to pitch. And they added Brett Lawrie and Billy Butler to the everyday lineup. They will still win around 90 games and choke in the playoffs.
The Wolf Pack men's basketball team, which is now 2-6 and can't score as much in a game as Colin Kaepernick used to put on the Idaho Vandals, is only going as far as point guard Marqueze Coleman is going to take it. Coleman, right now, isn't taking it far. He's averaging just 10.4 points a game and has just 15 assists and 23 turnovers. He's better than that. Much better than that. Right now he's thinking too much on the court and trying to be the next Deonte Burton. Burton had Malik Story, Cole Huff, Jerry Evans, Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt to pass to. Coleman has Michael Perez and D.J. Fenner. Once Coleman stops shooting threes (he's 7-for-40 in his career) and simply attacks the basket, he'll get to 14 or 15 points a game and the Pack offense will open up.
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