Thanks to bowling, chili, Pack actually went 8-7 | NevadaAppeal.com

Thanks to bowling, chili, Pack actually went 8-7

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

History is not going to be kind to the 2007 Wolf Pack football team. And that is a bit unfair. Make no mistake, nobody is going to build a shrine to a 6-7 team that suffered its first shutout on offense since Jimmy Carter was president. But in the future when you remember 2007, try to look beyond the numbers. Remember how a freshman named Colin Kaepernick came out of nowhere to put a scare into Hawaii, Boise State and Fresno State. Remember the win over UNLV. Hey, it’s still the holiday season. You’re supposed to think good thoughts around the holidays, right?

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The real fallout of the 2007 Pack football season is that not much was accomplished this year. The Pack finds itself in much the same position as it was heading into the 2007 season. The biggest issue going into 2007 was the quarterback position. Kaepernick or Nick Graziano? That question still exists. The Pack will also go into 2008 without knowing how to beat Boise State, just like in 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002 and, well, you get the idea. Actually, the Pack will have more questions facing it in the summer of 2008 than it did in 2007. And the biggest question will be whether or not the Pack can rebuild its defense.

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The next eight months are going to be extremely busy in the football offices. In fact, it might be the most pivotal off season for coach Chris Ault and his staff since he took over the program the first time in 1976. Thanks to Ault’s amazing career, it’s easy to forget how mediocre the football program was that he was handed in 1976. The program he took over had enjoyed just eight winning seasons over the past 26 years. Those 26 seasons brought a 90-126-5 record. Things certainly aren’t that bad heading into 2008. But it is time to stop the bleeding before it gets out of hand. The Pack will head into 2008 on the heels of seven losing seasons in the past 11 years. Those 11 years have brought a 58-72 record. The Pack has to figure out if it wants to be a mediocre Division I-A team happy to take 6-6 teams to meaningless bowl games or one that gets to play in real bowl games now and then like Hawaii, Boise and Fresno.

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Hey, enough with all the bad thoughts during the holidays. If you count the Wolf Pack’s victory over New Mexico in the chili cook-off and bowling tournament in the days leading up to the New Meaningless Bowl, the Pack actually finished 8-7 this year.

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What does the shutout in the New Mexico Bowl mean for the Wolf Pack offense? Well, not much. Ault is not going to scrap the Pistol and turn it into the Machine Gun. Even great offenses get shut out every 329 games or so. And, by the way, goofy things happen in bowl games. That’s what can happen when you get a month to practice for one game. It’s why other sports that have actual championship games don’t do it. So let’s not panic about one shutout in a game that took place while you were stuck in holiday mall traffic.

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Roger Clemens sure is adamant about telling the world he never used steroids. The guy is even going to sit in front of Mike Wallace on Jan. 6 and deny using steroids. He must be telling the truth, right? And, you know what? I believe him. Do yourself a favor and believe him, too. You owe it to yourself to hang onto some of your childhood fantasies, right? That’s what baseball is all about after all. So, yes, I admit it. I want to believe that Clemens never cheated. Barry Bonds, too. I want to believe that they wouldn’t lie to us. So I will. There. I feel better already.

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The NFL sure is going a bit overboard over the New England Patriots. The Patriots-New York Giants game is going to be broadcast over three networks (NBC, CBS and the NFL Network) Saturday night. In the Boston and New York areas, the game can be seen on four different networks at the same time because it will also be on local TV. The president doesn’t get as much exposure during his state of the union address. The strange thing is that this isn’t even the most important game in the Patriots’ quest for perfection. If they beat the Giants, they still have to win three postseason games to equal the Miami Dolphins’ 1972 perfect season. There’s no truth to the rumor that the NFL is currently negotiating with TV networks on Mars, Venus and Neptune if the Patriots reach the Super Bowl.

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Who is in college football’s championship game? I forget. Has the game been played already? College football simply has to get rid of its bowl practice season.

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Why is the NFL making such a big deal about the official who wrestled Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Nick Barnett out of a pileup last weekend? Did the big, bad official hurt the poor helpless Barnett? NHL officials manhandle players all the time. How else can you stop a fight? By politely asking the guys to stop punching each other? We’re all for officials getting physical with NFL players. If the Wolf Pack defense tackled as well as that NFL official, the Pack might have had a winning record this year.

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Every year it’s the same story. The NFL gets to the final weekend of the regular season and everyone gets all upset about teams possibly resting some of their starters. Relax people. Other sports do it all the time. The uproar over the NFL doing it couldn’t be because of the betting angle, could it? Of course not. Betting isn’t a concern of the NFL, right?

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Does anybody play defense in college football anymore? OK, New Mexico. Who else? Just asking.

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If college football’s loony system of picking a champion was in place in the NFL, the Patriots would find themselves out of any championship consideration if they lost to the Giants. And then they’d get to play in the Motor City Bowl.

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What is the University of San Francisco thinking? Eddie Sutton? Really? A 71-year-old guy with no real connection to the university who was involved in a drunk driving accident a few years back? That’s the guy you want to coach your men’s basketball team? Just when you thought Bay Area sports couldn’t become more ridiculous.

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It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Minnesota Twins deal Johan Santana to the New York Yankees. It’s only fair, I guess. The Twins, after all, allowed David Ortiz to go to the Boston Red Sox. They do owe the Yankees a future Hall of Famer, right?