by Joe Santoro

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November 18, 2011
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Sports Fodder: Pack should crack Top 25 soon


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Don't be shocked to see the Nevada Wolf Pack ranked in college football's Top 25 by the end of the season. Actually, you shouldn't be stunned to see the Pack receive a vote or two next week after they beat Louisiana Tech on Saturday to clinch a share of the Western Athletic Conference title. Make no mistake, the Pack doesn't deserve Top 25 status right now, or even a single Top 25 vote. They haven't, after all, beaten a team that currently has a winning record and the WAC, well, is a mess this year. But this Pack team will likely finish with one of the best records in the nation at 10-3. It's time the Top 25 voters start to pay attention to what is happening in northern Nevada this season.

. . .

UNLV, on the other hand, fakes a football program the way Kim Kardashian fakes a marriage. The Rebels lost to arguably the worst program in the nation (New Mexico) last weekend. It will never happen but UNLV should seriously consider an elimination of its football program. Just put all of the helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys and footballs in a pile on Las Vegas Boulevard, sprinkle them with gasoline, ignite it and hire Cris Angel to levitate over the blaze. The Rebels have had three winning seasons in the last 25. They've lost 42 of their last 46 road games. Their last six head coaches (since 1986) have a losing record for their UNLV careers. Bobby Hauck is now 4-18 since being named the latest savior. The Rebels have had a losing record in conference play in 24 of 30 seasons. They've been to just three bowl games in their entire history. Changing coaches does absolutely nothing to fix the Rebels' problem. It's time to change the entire athletic department.

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The over-the-top praise for Mike Krzyzewski this week is yet another example of how much the media never learns its lesson. Less than a week after the fall of Joe Paterno and his God-like status, the media couldn't wait to deify another college coach. Krzyzewski is a fine coach. No question. One of the best ever. But that's it. He's just a coach. He's not one of the world's greatest leaders of men. He's not the most honorable person alive. He's not all that is right and wholesome about the human race. He's just a coach. It's OK to praise him for winning basketball games. But keep it in perspective. After Paterno, it's time we all just tone it down a bit.

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Luke Babbitt stands to lose $1.7 million dollars and Armon Johnson will lose nearly $800,000 if there is no NBA season this year. But that's a mere drop in the bucket compared to what they might lose in terms of their NBA futures. Both ex-Wolf Pack players Babbitt and Johnson, two guys whose NBA careers are hanging on by a thread, are not being done any favors by missing an entire season. They barely played a year ago and they are not getting any better by not playing this year. Also, the competition for jobs will be even more difficult after another batch of talented college players joins the league in June. This NBA lockout, if it wipes out the season (where's Metta World Peace when you need him?), will also wipe out the NBA careers of many players, old and young.

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The NBA players exist in their own strip-club, party-every-night-until-6 a.m. bubble and have no clue that the rest of the country could not care less if the season is played or not. Who needs the NBA? We have college football until January, the NFL until February, college basketball until April and then major league baseball kicks in. The country stopped paying attention to the NBA with any real passion after Michael Jordan retired in 1998. The Golden Era of the NBA (1979-1998) has been over for more than a decade. NBA players need to stop listening to their money-hungry agents and get back to work.

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When Chris Ault and the Pack beat coach Bob Davie and the New Mexico Lobos next year it won't technically be the first time Ault has bested a former Notre Dame head coach. He also beat George O'Leary and Central Florida in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl. O'Leary, though, lied on his resume and never coached a game in South Bend. But, hey, it still counts as beating a former Notre Dame coach the same way beating a watered down WAC earns you a conference title and a Top 25 ranking.

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The Houston Astros heading to the American League is not as ridiculous as BYU and Boise State possibly ending up in the Big East but it's close. Baseball fans, though, will get used to it. We got used to the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League, right? The move also, finally, gives the Texas Rangers someone in their division that actually resides in their time zone. But it is kind of ironic that the team heading to the American League is one of two in the N.L. (yes, Padres, we're talking about you) that doesn't have enough major league hitters for eight positions, let alone a DH. Maybe Houston can get Jeff Bagwell or Rusty Staub to come out retirement.

. . .

Tony LaRussa retires and the St. Louis Cardinals replace him with Mike Matheny. They then have enough sense to surround him with all of LaRussa's assistants (Dave Duncan, Jose Oquendo, Mark McGwire). The Cardinals won't miss a beat. Matheny seems to be a natural leader. He played for LaRussa so he knows the Cardinals' way of doing things and he's a guy who once got hit in the mouth with a fastball, shook it off like it was a mosquito bite and went straight to first base. If Albert Pujols signs elsewhere he's only doing it for the paycheck.


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The Record Courier Updated Nov 18, 2011 06:05PM Published Nov 18, 2011 06:03PM Copyright 2011 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.