Joe Santoro: 6-6 — and beating UNLV — would mean success | NevadaAppeal.com

Joe Santoro: 6-6 — and beating UNLV — would mean success

Joe Santoro

What would be considered a successful season this year for the Nevada Wolf Pack football team under rookie head coach Jay Norvell? Keep in mind the standards are a bit low right now. Over the last six seasons the Wolf Pack has an uninspiring record of 37-39, has just one bowl victory to its credit and zero conference titles. So, yes, Norvell isn’t exactly taking over the Alabama Crimson Tide. All he has to do this year to be considered a success is win half of his 12 games and go to a bowl game. He doesn’t even have to win the bowl game. And, oh yeah, he has to beat UNLV. The Wolf Pack coach always has to beat UNLV.

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The Wolf Pack football season seems pretty cut and dried. Nobody expects the Pack to win at Boise State, San Diego State, Northwestern or Washington State. And nobody expects them to lose to UNLV, Idaho State, San Jose State and Fresno State. That leaves the season with four make-or-break games against Toledo, Hawaii, Air Force and Colorado State. Squeezing two victories out of those four, giving Norvell a perfectly acceptable 6-6 season and a bowl game, is realistic considering three of the games (Toledo, Hawaii, Air Force) are at Mackay Stadium.

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A victory at Northwestern in the season opener for Norvell would simply be one of the greatest victories in school history. Yes, Northwestern isn’t exactly Michigan, Ohio State or Wisconsin and the Pack have beaten Northwestern before (2006 at home). But we’re talking about a Football Bowl Subdivision team to open the season on the road. The Wolf Pack has beaten a FBS team to open a season (home or away) just twice (1995 at home vs. Louisiana-Lafayette and 2012 at California) since the school made the jump to Division I-A in 1992. The Pack is just 2-16 against FBS teams (7-0 against FCS teams) to open the season since 1992. The 16 losses have come by an average of 29 points. If Norvell wants to change the direction of Pack football, he can do it in his first game.

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Once again, everyone is voicing and writing their opinions about why Colin Kaepernick has yet to land a job in the NFL except Kaepernick himself. Even film director Spike Lee is promoting a protest outside the NFL headquarters in New York on Aug. 23. Kaepernick supporters want fans to boycott the NFL by not watching games or buying NFL merchandise as long as Kaepernick isn’t on an NFL roster. Again, Kaepernick isn’t saying a thing. He’s the least vocal activist in the history of activism. But he might be the smartest. By not saying anything, he’s allowing everyone else to speak and act as they please and all they do is make his point.

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If, as Kaepernick supporters claim, the NFL has a concerted and organized effort to keep Kaepernick out of the league, the league is acting quite foolishly. By blackballing Kaepernick, all the league is doing is bringing negative attention to the league. If the league really wants Kaepernick and his social activism to stop being an issue in the league, all it has to do is put him on a roster. By the end of last season, after Kaepernick became the San Francisco 49ers starter the final 11 games of the year, hardly anyone paid attention to whether or not Kaepernick sat, stood, knelt or did back flips during the national anthem. He was just another mediocre quarterback on a bad team, something the league has plenty of right now.

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Maybe that’s why Kaepernick, through his silence, doesn’t seem all that upset he doesn’t have an NFL job right now. As the list of teams who bypass him (Seattle, Baltimore, Miami) grows, his cause and the issues he’s protesting get more and more attention. And the league looks like fools right now. Kaepernick was never protesting against the NFL. But the league, through its arrogance, lack of social awareness and, as it turns out, stupidity, has made this a Kaepernick vs. the NFL situation. Roger Goodell is, without a doubt, the worst commissioner in the history of the NFL. He never sees potential crisis situations (Ray Rice, concussions, Spygate, Deflategate, Bountygate, replacement referees) until they blow up in his face. This is just his latest blunder.

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Which Nevada Wolf Pack players have had the greatest NBA careers? The Pack player to have the greatest NBA career is, without question, Ramon Sessions. Sessions, who signed with the New York Knicks this week, leads all Pack players in the NBA in games played (663), minutes (15,727), points (7,005), points per game (10.6), assists per game (4.1), steals (458), free throws made (2,077), minutes per game (23.7), field goals made (2,364) and assists (2,730). Not bad for a second-round pick (2007). JaVale McGee, who won an NBA title last year with Golden State, leads all Pack players with 2,484 rebounds, 778 blocks and 170 starts. Luke Babbitt, who signed this week with the Atlanta Hawks, leads all Pack players with 334 successful 3-pointers.