Friday Fodder: Nevada Wolf Pack not a 3rd-place team | NevadaAppeal.com

Friday Fodder: Nevada Wolf Pack not a 3rd-place team

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … The Western Athletic Conference coaches and media have just handed the Nevada Wolf Pack all the motivation they need to repeat as conference football champions. The media and coaches have picked the Wolf Pack to finish third in the WAC this year in their preseason polls. The Pack, which finished 13-1 a year ago, shared the WAC title with Hawaii and Boise State, won their bowl game and were ranked No. 11 nationally, obviously have not been given a ton of respect from the league’s coaches and media. Hawaii was picked to win the league in both preseason polls with Fresno State picked to finish second. Picking the Pack to finish third means the media and coaches believe the Pack will lose at least two WAC games, as many as they’ve lost in the last two seasons combined.

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The pick of Hawaii to win the league is a bit surprising. Yes, the Warriors return quarterback Bryant Moniz but they’ve also lost their entire offensive line as well as running back Alex Green and wide receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares off their 2010 team. The Warriors also have to play at Nevada and Louisiana Tech this year. Fresno State has a ton of returning talent but the Bulldogs have to play at Hawaii and Nevada this year. The Wolf Pack lost all of their superstars (Colin Kaepernick, Dontay Moch, Vai Taua and Virgil Green) but Wolf Pack football has always been more about the system than the superstars and the Pack plays all of its tough WAC games (Hawaii, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech, Idaho) at home this year. The Pack should have gotten more respect from the league’s coaches and media.

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Boise State, on the other hand, has gotten immediate respect from its new league. The Broncos have been picked to win the Mountain West Conference this year in their very first year in the league. The Mountain West has so much respect and fear of the Broncos that the conference even went so far as to tell Boise that it cannot wear its hideous all blue uniforms on its ugly blue home turf. It seems the Broncos have already psyched out the Mountain West before they’ve even played a game in the conference.

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Carlos Beltran might not be enough for the San Francisco Giants to repeat as World Series champs but you have to applaud the Giants for trying. The Giants are absolutely right by mortgaging a bit of their future (minor league pitcher Zack Wheeler went to the New York Mets for Beltran) to bring Beltran to the Bay. Beltran will give protection to Aubrey Huff and Pablo Sandoval in the lineup. He’ll drive in runs. Some of those 3-2 Giants losses will magically turn into 4-3 victories just by having Beltran in the lineup. The only fear with Beltran is whether or not he can stay healthy. But he’s worth the risk.

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Colin Kaepernick fans shouldn’t be upset with the San Francisco 49ers for quickly signing quarterback Alex Smith to be the apparent starter in 2011. That’s just business as usual in the NFL. Tennessee, which drafted quarterback Jake Locker this spring, has added veteran Matt Hasselbeck and Minnesota, which drafted Christian Ponder, is about to bring in Donovan McNabb. The 49ers are actually doing Kaepernick a favor by bringing Smith in this summer. It would have been too much pressure on the former Wolf Pack quarterback to be deemed the savior of the 49ers franchise right away. The same goes for Ponder in Minnesota and Locker in Tennessee. This way Kaepernick gets to ease his way into the NFL. Don’t worry. He’ll play when he’s ready.

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Vince Young is going to be released by the Tennessee Titans in the next day or so and, well, if some NFL general manager is smart, he’ll grab him in about three seconds. Yes, Young has been nothing more than an average quarterback on his good days. But he’s also just 28 years old, has a world of physical talent and has had some success in the league. Young is not Ryan Leaf. He can play in the NFL. Last year he had a quarterback rating of 98.6 and threw 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The Oakland Raiders are sitting there with Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller, two guys that couldn’t start in the Pac-12 this year. In Al Davis’ youth, he would have grabbed Young in a heartbeat and turned him into a winner.

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OK, enough with the idea of paying college athletes. Most colleges and universities can barely pay their bills now without the added burden of paying athletes. There is absolutely no way the NCAA could police such a system. Who pays them? How much? How often? Does the sixth best high jumper on the track team get as much as the starting point guard on the men’s basketball team? Aren’t college athletes already given scholarships worth five and six figures? Athletes don’t need money while they are in school. All of their needs (and then some) at school are already taken care of. Many of them already drive around more expensive cars than the athletic director.