No major changes expected in Pack schedule
Don’t expect to see Nevada’s football scheduling philosophy change with the new NCAA ruling allowing all schools to play 12 games each year.
Rory Hickok, the Pack’s asociate athletic director who handles the football schedule, said Nevada wants to keep up its new philosophy of scheduling only Division I opponents.
“At this point I’d say probably not,” Hickok said when asked if Nevada might envision playing a Sac State or some other Division 1-AA opponent in the future. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t. We want to stay with Division 1-A opponents.
“If we did add a home game, a seventh home game and it was not a Division 1A opponent, my concern would be what kind of attendance we would have. We would have to make it attractive enough that people would come out for it.”
Hickok has a valid point. Even though Sac State is only two hours from Reno, the Hornets brought few fans, and the crowd was a paltry 16,000. Nevada officials say they need to draw at least 20,000 fans per game to make any sort of profit.
Hickok also pointed out that Nevada doesn’t have the fan base to draw 20,000 no matter who the opponent is.
“It’s a fickle town,” Hickok said. “There is a lot of competition as far as how the entertainment dollar is spent.”
I’m not totally sure Nevada is doing the right thing. As the Pack’s schedule gets tougher, I’m not sure it’s such a bad idea to have a lesser opponent, especially if that game is at home and it’s a season opener. With a 12-game schedule, you will need seven wins to get a bowl bid, and it might be nice if one of those came during the nonconference schedule.
Let’s face it, as long as Boise State, Hawai’i and Fresno State are in the WAC, those are three schools that Nevada will always struggle to beat. If you go 0-3 every year against those schools, you almost have to run the table against the rest of the conference to get to seven wins. Not an easy chore to be sure.
Some of the WAC coaches fear that by adding an extra game to everybody’s schedule that finding games, especially if they opt to go the Division 1-AA route, might be tough to come up with. Schools like Nebraska can offer much bigger guarantees than a school like Nevada or San Diego State. One of the coaches even suggested that it had been talked about playing each other in a nonconference game.
Next year’s nonconference home schedule is solid with Northwestern and Colorado State coming to town. In 2007, after road games at Northwestern and Nebraska, the Pack will play UNLV and as yet an unnamed opponent. Hickok said he is trying to get San Diego State in 2007 instead of 2010 as the contract calls for.
A game with Utah fell through, and Hickok said the Pack will play BYU sometime after the 2008 season. He said he hasn’t had any contact with either Wyoming or Air Force.
What about Cal? Could Nevada ever entice the Golden Bears to come up here for football? Cal certainly has a good following, especially in the Sacramento area.
Oregon will be back to finish up that contract in the future, but what about other Pac-10 schools? Off hand, I doubt that you would get either of the Arizona schools here or Stanford, which leaves the Pacific Northwest schools. Oregon State might be a possibility. Ditto for Washington.