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Joe Santoro: Nevada Wolf Pack football schedule should reduce traffic

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong (12 ) rolls out against New Mexico second half of an NCAA college football game in Reno, Nev., Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019.
AP Photo/Tom R. Smedes

Two years ago the Nevada Wolf Pack hyped its 2018 home football schedule as the best in school history. Nobody is calling the 2020 home schedule the best in school history. This year’s home schedule will bring UC Davis, UTEP, San Diego State, Fresno State, Utah State and Wyoming to Mackay Stadium. We’d be more entertained with three tractor pulls, a Milli Vanilli cover band, a Reno City Council debate and a Christmas craft show. Davis was 5-7 last year in the Big Sky Conference. UTEP was 1-11 in Conference USA. Fresno State (4-8) couldn’t get out of its own way last year, San Diego State is rebuilding with a new coach, Utah State is looking for a new quarterback and Wyoming is, well, Wyoming. The 2020 home schedule has no UNLV, no Boise State and no Power Five opponent. That has happened just four times (1992, 1994, 2000, 2016) in the first 28 years the Pack has been in Division I-A. No Boise, no UNLV, no Power Five equals no traffic around Mackay Stadium on game day. OK, so it’s not all bad.

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The Wolf Pack’s non-conference home schedule over the next three (2020-22) seasons, according to the Pack web site, is about as enticing as getting stuck in a blizzard on Interstate 80. Davis and UTEP this year. Idaho State and New Mexico State next year followed by something called Incarnate Word and Texas State in 2022. Idaho will come to Mackay in 2023. Didn’t Kathy Ireland once kick for Texas State?

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When Chris Ault was Nevada’s athletic director and head coach at the same time (1986-92, 1994-95) he never played a Power Five team home or away. When he was just athletic director (1993, 1996-2003), Pack coaches Jeff Horton, Jeff Tisdel and Chris Tormey played 11 Power Five games in nine years. Brian Polian (2013-16) played two Power Five schools each year. Draw your own conclusions.

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According to media reports if Major League Baseball does play games this summer it will do so with a designated hitter in all games. It is also likely, according to the reports, that the National League will use the DH from here on out. It is about time. Welcome to 1973, National League. Nobody wants to see pitchers bunt, strikeout or ground out to the opposing pitcher. Nobody also wants to see a grown man put on a jacket when he’s on the bases because his precious arm might get cold. It has always been silly for the two leagues to have a significant rule difference, especially now that there is a ridiculous amount of interleague games. I understand some fans insist pinch-hitting for the pitcher and making a double switch in your lineup is great drama and can only be done by genius managers with master’s degrees. All we know is that if your son or daughter’s Little League manager, who just got to the game 15 minutes before it started after rushing to the park from his construction job can do it, so can Terry Francona.

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Major League Baseball also announced that the 2021 World Baseball Classic has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The next one will be 2023. Here’s hoping the WBC dies quietly and goes away forever. It is meaningless. It proves nothing. Pitchers are just out there trying not to get hurt. Daisuke Matsuzaka was the Most Valuable Player in the first two WBCs in 2006 and 2009, for goodness sake. It messes with spring training and each team’s preparation for the regular season. Make it go away.

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ESPN’s Last Dance documentary about the Chicago Bulls 1990s dynasty has been interesting and entertaining and a nice distraction from everyday life. But nothing new has been revealed. Every issue talked about in the first eight episodes was reported thoroughly when it happened in the 1990s. Michael Jordan was a great player. Michael Jordan was a jerk. Michael Jordan was on a minutes limit when he returned from the injury his second season. Michael Jordan was a bully. Michael Jordan was idolized. Michael Jordan didn’t like the Detroit Pistons and Isiah Thomas. Michael Jordan plays golf and cards for money. Michael Jordan uses foul language. Michael Jordan made fun of Jerry Krause. Michael Jordan liked to embarrass opponents. Been there. Done that. A thousand times. Two and three decades ago.

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The national media is now feeling sorry for Scottie Pippen. Jordan’s sidekick has not been portrayed in a flattering light in The Last Dance. Well, too bad. Pippen did all of those things. He quit on his team in a playoff game. He purposely sat out the first few months of the 1997-98 season because he was unhappy with his contract. He got a famous headache against the Pistons. He treated Krause poorly. All of those things, too, were reported when they happened. But the national media didn’t dwell on them in the 1990s because there was always a Jordan story to talk about five minutes later. And the Bulls won.

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ESPN came out with another ludicrous list this week, detailing its top 74 players in NBA history. There are far too many ludicrous rankings to mention here but some are worth mentioning. Here are the players whose talents were severely underestimated: Wilt Chamberlain (No. 6), Elgin Baylor (22), John Stockton (28), Bob Cousy (41), Rick Barry (43) and Pete Maravich (68). Others, like Chet Walker, Dennis Johnson, Joe Dumars, Nate Thurmond, Walt Bellamy Calvin Murphy and Nate Archibald weren’t even listed at all.

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There were far more players whose talents were overvalued, such as LeBron James (2), Larry Bird (7), Tim Duncan (8), Stephen Curry (13), Dirk Nowitzki (19), Kevin Garnett (20), Scottie Pippen (21), David Robinson (24), Dwyane Wade (26), Allen Iverson (29), James Harden (32), John Havlicek (33), Kevin McHale (36), Patrick Ewing (37), Chris Paul (40), Russell Westbrook (42), Anthony Davis (45), Reggie Miller (49), James Worthy (51), Tracy McGrady (52), Gary Payton (53), Paul Pierce (54), Vince Carter (55), Ray Allen (56), Manu Ginobili (58), Bob McAdoo (59), Willis Reed (60), Robert Parish (61), Dennis Rodman (62), Alonzo Mourning (63), Earl Monroe (64), Pau Gasol (65), Damian Lillard (72) and Dikembe Mutombo (73).