Nevada prefers Hawaii or Las Vegas
November 29, 2005
RENO – Nevada coach Chris Ault made it perfectly clear Tuesday afternoon. The only bowls he’s interested in attending are Las Vegas and Hawaii.
The veteran coach said that in talking to other coaches, he believes that the Wolf Pack players would get the best experience at either of those games compared to the Motor City Bowl in Detroit, which is the third bowl game interested in Nevada.
Nevada’s chances of getting into the Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 22) hinge on Oregon getting a bid in the Bowl Championship Series. If the Ducks get the nod over Notre Dame or Ohio State, the Pac-10 would be unable to put a team in the Las Vegas Bowl.
If that doesn’t happen, the Pack (7-1, 8-3) appear to be a cinch to go to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24. The Motor City Bowl (Dec. 26) appears to be the third choice of the Nevada contingent.
Nevada football players are still a few days away from knowing their bowl destination. They admit it’s hard to take and they appear divided on where they want to go.
“I’d love to be sipping a Mai-Tai Christmas morning,” tackle Adam Kiefer said, letting it be known loud and clear he wants to go to Hawaii.
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“Hawaii, somewhere where it’s hot,” tackle Tony Moll said.
Senior defensive back Kevin Stanley said he prefers going to the Las Vegas Bowl.
“There would be more of our families there (Vegas),” Stanley said. “It’s better for our fan base if we’re in Vegas. Beggars can’t be choosers.”
Added running back B.J. Mitchell, “It doesn’t matter, but probably Vegas. A lot of our fans would be able to get down there.”
And, playing in the Las Vegas Bowl, right in archrival UNLV’s backyard isn’t lost on the Wolf Pack players, especially Mitchell. It certainly doesn’t hurt Nevada’s recruiting efforts in Southern Nevada.
“We’ve done it three times before,” Ault said, alluding to Nevada’s three previous Las Vegas Bowl trips. “It’s a great bowl atmosphere.
“It would certainly be great. We certainly recruit players down there. Just being in a bowl game (helps) whether it’s in Las Vegas or Hawaii.”
In fact, Ault said he’s received a lot of attention since the upset win over Fresno State. The win put Nevada in the national spotlight. The Pack got votes in all three polls. That win alone did more for recruiting than anything else.
“I got about 150 e-mails and calls,” Ault said. “It was unbelievable. People who saw the Fresno game are excited about Nevada football.”
The Pack is taking the week off, and Ault said that is needed. The veteran Nevada coach would still like to know who his team will be playing, however.
“You’ve got to give them a week off,” Ault said. “Let them concentrate on academics. They have finals coming up and they have to get ready for next semester.”
“Waiting is hard; not knowing who you are going to play. You can’t break down film. It forces us as coaches to do some adjusting with recruiting and scouting.”
Kiefer said he welcomes the week off. So do many of the seniors, most of whom are starters.
Also, the three or four-week stretch of not playing a game is something Ault worries about.
“Sure you do,” Ault said. “The players have confidence. They know they can win wherever they go. With us coming back to play, they know what they have to do on both sides of the ball.”
Nevada opened the season 1-2, and then clicked off seven wins in the last eight weeks. The only setback was to Boise State.
What was the turning point? It was different depending on who you talked to Tuesday.
“It was Louisiana Tech,” Stanley said. “We came through as a unit. We played well on offense, defense and special teams.”
“We were busting our humps everyday,” Moll said. “That Washington State game (the opener). They had a pick to start the game. We let down. It’s not who we are.”
In Kiefer’s mind, it was the Boise State loss.
“I don’t know if we were too cocky,” Kiefer said. “We didn’t play well. It gave us a chance to refocus and start over again.”