Joe Santoro: San Jose State could be just what the doctor ordered for Nevada Wolf Pack
November 9, 2017
The San Jose State Spartans are just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Nevada Wolf Pack football team. Talk about a room service victory. It's rare when a 1-8 football team has a chance to be giddy and overconfident going into a game. This Saturday's game against San Jose State at Mackay Stadium is that rare chance for the Pack. San Jose State is 1-9 and has lost those nine games by an average of 32 points. San Jose State not only hasn't beaten a FBS opponent this year, it hasn't even led in the fourth quarter against a FBS opponent. The Pack simply cannot afford to lose on Saturday.
If all goes as expected, the Pack should have its victory on Saturday wrapped up by halftime. If that's the case then we might see the return of freshman quarterback Kaymen Cureton to the field. The last time we saw Cureton he was running for his life at Washington State in Week 4. He started that 45-7 loss and saw four of his five passes fall incomplete and all six of his runs net a minus eight yards. It would be nice for Cureton's confidence heading into his sophomore year in 2018 if that game is not the last time he sees the field this year.
Running back James Butler isn't likely regretting his decision to leave the Wolf Pack after last season. The senior has rushed for 260 yards on 57 carries in just five games for the Iowa Hawkeyes this year. Butler, who missed four games with an injury, ran for 74 yards last week against Ohio State. He had a 53-yard run late in the third quarter to set up a touchdown and help the Hawkeyes stun the Buckeyes 55-24. Butler still hasn't scored a touchdown this year and is Iowa's backup running back behind Akrum Wadley but he's going to a bowl game this year, has played an integral role for a Big Ten team and hasn't had to endure a 1-8 season at Nevada.
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Leaving Nevada also didn't turn out so bad for former Pack head football coach Brian Polian. Polian is now the special teams coach at Notre Dame. The Irish, which have a huge game this weekend against Miami, just might find themselves in the four-team college football playoff this year. Polian, by the way, is also getting paid more by Nevada this year (in base salary) than current Pack coach Jay Norvell. He also hasn't had to endure this 1-8 Pack football season.
What can we expect from the Wolf Pack men's basketball team this season? Well, anything less than another Mountain West regular season and tournament title and a second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament would be a disappointment. This might also end up being the second consecutive season that the men's basketball team loses as many or fewer games than the football team. Last year's teams both lost seven games. The football team will lose 8-10 games this year and, well, we don't see that many losses for the basketball team this year.
Wolf Pack basketball fans might want to keep an eye on the Georgia Bulldogs this year. The Bulldogs now have former Pack coaches Mark Fox and David Carter. Fox has done a solid job at Georgia since leaving the Pack after the 2008-09 season. He has taken the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament twice and the NIT three times, winning 20 or more games four times in eight seasons. Fox's secret to success and longevity is the same formula that current Pack coach Eric Musselman uses. They both dominate at home.
Fox was 71-17 at home in five years at Nevada and has been 101-37 in eight years at home at Georgia. Musselman is 29-4 in two seasons at Lawlor Events Center. Carter, by the way, was 7-8 at home in each of his final two seasons at Nevada.
Musselman is only in his third season at Nevada but there are just four Mountain West coaches who have been in their current job longer. Those four are Boise State's Leon Rice, Colorado State's Larry Eustachy, Air Force's David Pilipovich and Fresno State's Rodney Terry. The question surrounding Musselman, whether he likes it or not, will always be how long he stays here. Pack fans are hoping Musselman looks north to Spokane, Washington for a coaching role model where Mark Few has been head coach at Gonzaga since the 1999-2000 season with 18 NCAA tournament appearances in 18 years.