Friday Fodder: Will Nevada become Stop-Gap U?
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . All of the concerns about Brian Polian becoming a stop-gap coach for the Nevada Wolf Pack football team are sort of like being in an uproar over a television announcer spotting a former Miss Alabama in the stands and declaring, “What a beautiful woman. Wow!” Of course Polian is a stop-gap coach. That’s what you get when you hire someone with absolutely no ties to your history and tradition. So what? If Polian can’t coach he’ll likely be fired after his third or fourth year. If he’s successful he could be gone by this time next year. Welcome to Post Chris Ault Wolf Pack football. Nevada has now, officially, become a stepping stone football school. Actually, it was always a stepping stone school but Mr. Wolf Pack Football hid that fact for 28 years. •••Hiring someone who might stay a decade or longer was, obviously, not a concern for president Marc Johnson. It certainly wasn’t a priority for lame duck athletic director Cary Groth who won’t have to worry about replacing Polian sometime in the next three or four years. If Johnson and Groth were looking for long-term stability for Wolf Pack football, they wouldn’t have hired a guy like Polian, who has no ties to Nevada, who never stays anywhere more than three or four years and who has already tasted the sweet nectar of BCS football. If Wolf Pack tradition and stability was a priority, Johnson and Groth would have hired a coach with Wolf Pack ties. But Wolf Pack ties means Chris Ault ties. And that wasn’t going to happen. So, the next time Johnson or Groth talks about Wolf Pack tradition, well, try to keep from snickering.•••It is amazing, though, how quickly the Wolf Pack tossed away three decades of Ault history and tradition the first chance they got. They settled on Polian, a guy they knew absolutely nothing about, in a matter of days. How much research can you do on a coach in less than a week? Was Polian the first guy who wanted the job who also had no Ault ties who was willing to work for under $500,000 a year? Ault, though, said he didn’t want to pick the next coach. That, ironically, might have been the first thing Groth gave Ault in the eight-plus years they worked together.•••Polian, supposedly, has a reputation of being a good recruiter. Well, at least that’s what the media guides of the schools he has worked for say. But, he will find out, recruiting for a Stanford, Texas A&M and Notre Dame is a bit different than recruiting for Nevada. Recruiting for a BCS school is sort of like picking a girlfriend if you are the star quarterback of the national champs. At the end of the day, the girl wearing your jersey and sitting in the stands is going to make Brent Musburger’s head explode.•••How many of Ault’s assistants will Polian want to or be required to keep? Is it fair to Polian to force him to coach with someone else’s staff? Will Polian run the pistol offense? And, if he doesn’t, is it fair to quarterback Cody Fajardo to force him to learn another offense? There are a ton of questions surrounding the Polian hire and the bulk of them can only be answered and judged by the performance of the team on the field. So stay tuned.•••The Wolf Pack is no longer an athletic department. It is a soap opera. Welcome to another episode of Days of our Wolf Pack Lives. It all started with Groth’s out-of-the-blue “retirement” last September and continued through Ault’s confusing retirement late last month. And then came the even more confusing and rushed hiring of Polian this week. We can’t wait for the next edge-of-the-seat episode. Will Johnson keep Groth around so she can also have a heavy hand in hiring the next athletic director? Is Groth actually going to retire? Is it her goal to get rid of every coach she didn’t hire (Gary Powers beware) before she leaves? We can’t wait for the shocking season finale of Days of Our Wolf Pack Lives when Groth goes to work for the search firm that found Polian and will find the new athletic director.•••There is obviously a significant portion of the northern Nevada community that is thrilled that the Pack didn’t hire an Ault disciple. It’s the portion of the community that showed up at Mackay Stadium the last nine years disguised as empty seats. So we understand why Groth and Johnson might have wanted a clean break from Mr. Wolf Pack Football. But we also know that a very large portion of the Wolf Pack family — the hundreds of former Pack players who just lost a huge connection to the university — that are not very happy right now.