FODDER: Nevada didn’t do its football team any favors | NevadaAppeal.com

FODDER: Nevada didn’t do its football team any favors

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . Sometimes the University of Nevada is its own worst enemy. That’s definitely the case with the 2011 football schedule. The 2010 Pack football season was a program-changing, season-long party. They won 13 of 14 games. They beat Cal, Boise, Fresno State, Boston College and BYU. They won the Western Athletic Conference. They ended up 11th in the nation. So how does the Pack athletic department reward them? How does four consecutive games on the road to start the year sound? No home games until Oct. 8. Why do that to the signature program at your own university?

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The game that doesn’t make any sense among the first four is Oct. 1 at Boise State. There is no reason in the world for the Pack to play that game. First of all, they already had two extremely tough non-conference games in the first month, at Oregon and Texas Tech. And, second, why give Boise a home game? Why do Boise any favors? Isn’t Boise supposed to be the Pack’s most hated rival? This year’s Pack-Boise game is a non-league match-up because Boise is headed to the Mountain West a year earlier than the Pack. The Pack didn’t have to play Boise in 2011. But they went out of their way to schedule it.

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A huge key to the Pack’s success in 2010 was the three home games to start the year. Last year’s schedule was a work of art, with a couple of easy, nice tune-up games against Eastern Washington and Colorado State before Cal came to town. That’s how you make a football schedule. But don’t give up on this Pack football season just yet. This year’s Pack football team will likely finish no worse than 9-3 and win another WAC title no matter what happens in the first four weeks. The final eight games are that Pack-friendly. But will Pack fans buy any tickets to watch after a 2-2 or 1-3 start?

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The NFL has voted to move its kickoffs back to the 35-yard line (from the 30) to, they say, cut down on injuries. Dumb move. What other sport would make a rule that could all but wipe out one of its most exciting moments? The NHL will never outlaw fighting. It took baseball, which knows that the home run is the reason it exists, about two decades before it was forced by outside influences to prohibit players from taking illegal performance enhancing drugs. The NFL’s version of instant excitement is the kickoff return, which combines all of the violence and brutality of the hockey fight and the glory and majesty of the home run. There were 23 kickoff returns for a touchdown a year ago in the NFL. You might not see any kickoff return TDs in 2011 since all of the kickoffs will now likely sail into the end zone. Kickoffs will now be as thrilling as an intentional walk.

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I don’t care where you work. One of these three questions were probably heard in your place of employment in the last few days, certainly in the last two weeks: How’s your NCAA Tournament bracket going? Don’t you just hate Duke? Can Jimmer Fredette be a star in the NBA? Can you believe the price of gas? Hey, not everybody is a hoops fan. The answers, by the way, are don’t ask, don’t you?, don’t make me laugh and don’t get me started.

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If you are a NFL team in search of a quarterback in this year’s draft, how can you pass on Cam Newton? Newton just might be the single most exciting and dominating college player since Barry Sanders of Oklahoma State. At 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, he’s an amazing physical specimen. He’s done nothing but win. If your organization can’t make a solid, productive NFL quarterback out of a Cam Newton, well, you need some new coaches.

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The Barry Bonds steroid trial is getting ridiculous. A San Francisco Giants clubhouse manager is going to testify about Bond’s increasing hat size over the years. A Nike employee is going to testify about Bonds’ growing shoe size. And a former girlfriend of Bonds is going to testify about Bonds’ shrinking testicles. Remember when the only things we knew about baseball players could all be found on the back of a baseball card? Nobody wants to see these latest statistics about Bonds on the back of any baseball card.