Wolf Pack football program reduced to frustrations | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack football program reduced to frustrations

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Brian Polian just doesn’t get it. The Nevada Wolf Pack football coach (for now) went out of his way this week to trivialize once again how fans of his football team feel. “I know our fans are frustrated,” Polian said. “I get a kick out of that. People all the time tell me how frustrated they are. I can assure you, you are not more frustrated than the players or the coaches.” He gets a kick out of Pack fans telling him they are frustrated? Instead of sympathizing with frustrated fans and telling them he understands their feelings, Polian makes it a point to publicly remind them that they don’t feel any more frustrated than the players or coaches. That’s what Wolf Pack football has been reduced to, according to Polian. It’s merely a frustration contest between fans, players and coaches to see who feels worse. It’s a contest where nobody feels like a winner.

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Polian should be going out of his way right now to make fans know that their emotions, feelings and opinions are meaningful and important. Nobody – other than the nasty little voice in Polian’s head – is saying that Pack players and coaches don’t care deeply about Wolf Pack sports. Of course they do. Wolf Pack sports makes the coaches rich and gives them amazing careers. It gives the players a chance at a college education, athletic glory and a lifetime of memories. What do fans get? Fans get to pay good money for a ticket and concessions, battle for a parking spot and freeze in a half empty stadium. Polian needs to understand that when fans tell him they are frustrated, all they are really doing is telling him that they still care. He should be grateful they are still out there.

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Wolf Pack football fans need some reassurance right now that the silver and blue sky isn’t falling. So here it is. Your football team can still salvage this season and go to a bowl. The Pack only needs to win three of its final five games to get to a bowl. Those wins should come against Wyoming, Utah State and UNLV. They might even get a bonus win at New Mexico. Remember, we’re talking Mountain West football here. The Mediocre West is a very forgiving conference, where nobody is out of bowl contention until Thanksgiving. And there is nobody more mediocre than the Pack right now. Of course, if the Pack plays like it has played the last four weeks against Purdue, Hawaii, Fresno State and San Jose State, it won’t win another game this year.

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Before this season started Polian stated that another seven-win season would be unacceptable, that the time has come for the program to take the next step. The Pack, after all, has finished 7-6 in four of its last five seasons (sandwiched around a 4-8 season). Well, right now a seven-win season would look pretty darn good. Do fans really want the Pack to go 7-6 again? It would mean another bowl season and a solid finish to the year. Would that ease their frustration? Or do Wolf Pack fans secretly want the team to fall short of a bowl so that Knuth starts the search for a new head coach?

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All Wolf Pack fans can certainly agree on one thing over the final five games of the season. A win over UNLV on Nov. 26 in Las Vegas is mandatory. If the Pack goes 6-6, beats UNLV and goes to a bowl, even frustrated Wolf Pack fans will be able to accept Knuth giving Polian a two or three-year extension. But the most important part of that scenario is a win over UNLV. The UNLV game is the Pack’s real bowl game this year. It doesn’t matter if the Pack loses its next four games. A win in Las Vegas would ease the pain of all Pack fans. Polian, of course, doesn’t care how Pack fans feel. But Knuth does.

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Thank goodness the Nevada legislature did the right thing by giving the thumbs up on a $750 million promise of public funds for a new stadium in Las Vegas. The money is going to come from a hotel tax increase, meaning tourists are going to pay an extra $1.50 a night on their hotel bill. These are people who will toss $100 into a slot machine in two minutes and give a waitress a $20 tip after spending $50 on five beers. Another six quarters on their hotel bill won’t even be noticed. Las Vegas gets 42 million visitors a year and the new stadium is going to up that more than a half million. Citizens in Cleveland, Indianapolis and Cincinnati had to pay a larger percentage of public funding toward their new stadiums than Las Vegas. And most of the public money in Las Vegas is going to come from people who don’t even live in Nevada. This was a no-brainer.

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The only obstacle now to getting a NFL team in Las Vegas is the NFL owners. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis has already said he is moving the team to Nevada but the NFL owners have to vote on it. That seems like only a formality and will happen sometime after the Super Bowl. The NFL would be fools to deny the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas. The league would never get a state to approve public finding for a new stadium ever again. Las Vegas is perfect for the Raiders and the league. Imagine a Super Bowl in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Raiders would be natural rivals with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. The Raiders would finally have an entire area to call their very own, after sharing a fan base with the San Francisco 49ers and Rams over their entire existence.

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If the Raiders don’t move to Las Vegas, the $1.9 billion stadium (the Raiders are contributing $500 million and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is paying $650 million) will be home to concerts, monster truck rallies, gigantic Chippendale shows, unbelievable comic book and science fiction conventions and, yes, the UNLV Rebels. The Wolf Pack will be able to go beat the Rebels and win the Fremont Cannon in the best stadium in all of college football. Yes, they will be able to actually fire a cannonball out of the cannon and not hit any fans, but that doesn’t matter. The echo would be heard in Dallas and Seattle. It will also only be a matter of time before the NCAA puts its college football championship game in Las Vegas. The possibilities are endless. A big thanks to the Nevada Legislature for not allowing six quarters on a hotel room bill to get in the way of all of those possibilities.