FRIDAY FODDER: Nevada sitting, waiting for Boise | NevadaAppeal.com

FRIDAY FODDER: Nevada sitting, waiting for Boise

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … The Nevada Wolf Pack football team looks bored. The Pack have come out of the locker room the last five games with a yawn, gone through the motions and sleepwalked to four victories. It hasn’t been pretty, no question. But we’re here to tell you to stop worrying about this team. Nevada is indeed worthy of its No. 23 standing in the BCS despite looking suspiciously similar to the Pack teams that haven’t won more than eight games since 2005. But who can blame the players for playing without passion? They’ve been fighting the monotony of the Western Athletic Conference schedule over the past month. You know what I’m talking about, right Pack fans? Less than 12,000 of you showed up Saturday night to watch another thrilling WAC game. And nobody blames you, either. So don’t worry about this team. The Pack, like everyone else in Northern Nevada, is just waiting for Boise State on Nov. 26.

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Head coach Chris Ault is as much to blame for the lack of Pack passion last Saturday as his players. He treated the game as if it was a scrimmage, benching quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the first half for a little extra coaching and keeping running back Vai Taua on the bench the entire game with a minor ankle sprain. Neither one of those things takes place in a game that Ault was worried about losing. Ault, who admitted that Taua was healthy enough to play, also said Taua would have sat out the game regardless of the opponent. “Whether it was Utah State or Boise State,” he said this week. Really? Nobody, especially the Pack players, believes that. Ault sent a very early message last Saturday that the Utah State game was nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. The lack of passion by the Pack players simply reflected that message.

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Hey, Pack fans, can you actually stomach rooting for Boise State? Well, drink a bottle of Pepto-Bismol this weekend, grit your teeth and cheer for the Broncos against Hawaii. If Hawaii upsets Boise, the Pack can kiss a WAC title goodbye. Hawaii would only have to beat San Jose State and New Mexico State to go unbeaten in conference play and win the WAC title. The Warriors also would likely jump over the Pack in the national rankings and, to top it off, the Pack-Boise game on Nov. 26 would suddenly have less national interest than Hot August Nights.

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The Oakland Raiders this weekend will play their first meaningful game in the month of November for the first time in eight years. It’s nice to pay attention to your team after Nevada Day, isn’t it Raiders fans? Welcome back to the NFL. The 4-4 Raiders are no longer the biggest joke in the NFL and actually could be 7-1 right now with a little luck. Yes, the AFC West is sort of like the WAC without Boise State (or Nevada and Hawaii, for that matter) but this Raider team is legit. Has anybody noticed that they’ve scored more points this year than every team in the NFL except Tennessee? Forget Nevada Day. This Raider team might even play a meaningful game or two past New Year’s Day.

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By the time the Wolf Pack joins the Mountain West Conference in the fall of 2012, it might not be worth joining after all. The Big East Conference, which would like to add two teams, is now sniffing around TCU. The Mountain West has already lost Utah and BYU. Take away TCU and, well, by 2012 it’s going to be nothing more than old WAC with a new logo. If TCU leaves, it might be a good idea for the Mountain West to continue its pillaging of the WAC and start to sniff around Utah State.

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The San Francisco Giants just set back free agency three decades. Who needs high-priced free agents when you can pick players off the scrap heap and win a World Series? Yes, of course, it helps if you can also build one of the greatest pitching staffs in recent memory from your farm system. But that is a credit to scouting and coaching, not how big of a check you can write. So let the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fight over Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth this winter. The Giants will just go out and pick up a bunch of guys that won’t appear on any fantasy baseball roster next summer and still win a ton of games.

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The Minnesota Vikings might be the most dysfunctional organization in the NFL. First of all, they’ve sold their soul to the never-ending soap opera that is Brett Favre. Then they give away a third-round draft pick for Randy Moss, only to put him out on the curb with last week’s leftovers a month later. And, by the way, they are also rumored to be interested in adding the fading Donovan McNabb next year. How bad is it for the Vikings? The Raiders now have a more promising future.