by Joe Santoro

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January 26, 2012
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Sports Fodder: Pack defense again in state of transition


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Andy Buh, who was supposedly silver and blue to the bone, made like the captain of an Italian cruise liner last week and abandoned the Nevada Wolf Pack's ship. Buh, the Pack's defensive coordinator the last two years, has been quoted as saying that the lure of chasing national championships at Wisconsin was too good to pass up. Interesting. Didn't Buh hear of Alphie's national mascot championship? We didn't see Bucky Badger winning that crown, did we? And does Buh know that the Badgers have won exactly the same amount of Associated Press and BCS national titles as the Wolf Pack? Don't buy the reason.

. . .

Why would Buh give up a coordinator's job for a job coaching linebackers? Buh, for some reason, obviously wanted to get the heck out of Nevada. He was reportedly also in the running to become Mike Leach's new coordinator at Washington State before he took the Wisconsin job. Head coach Chris Ault said he hired Buh two years ago because Buh, an ex-Pack player, was part of the fabric of Nevada football. Wolf Pack football meant something special to Buh and that was the type of coach Ault wanted to run his defense. Buh, Ault said, supposedly cared deeply for Wolf Pack football. It was Buh's goal, Buh said two years ago, to make the Wolf Pack defense great because it was close to his heart. It wasn't just a job and a big fat (around $175,000 a year) paycheck. It was part of his silver and blue soul to make the Pack defense great. He didn't finish the job.

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The Wolf Pack defense, once again, is in transition. It is a unit that has lost a ton of veteran players over the past two seasons and is almost starting over in 2012. The Pack defense is a ship wandering aimlessly at sea without a leader. It craves stability and direction. It needs someone to come in and stay for as long as it takes to build a solid foundation. That's why Ault should give the coordinator job to either Ken Wilson or Barry Sacks, two long-time, loyal Pack assistants and former Pack coordinators. The next 3-5 years are critical for the long-term success of Pack football. They are entering a new conference and Ault, by his own admission, is not looking past the age of 70 (he is now 65) to remain as head coach. He needs someone he can trust to build his defense before he leaves. Wilson or Sacks, or both, would be the right choice if they want the job.

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The New York Giants have already beaten the New England Patriots twice this season, once in the pre-season and once in the regular season. The Patriots have had a cupcake schedule this year, in the regular season and postseason. They should have lost in the AFC title game. The Giants had to go on the road to both Green Bay and San Francisco to get to the Super Bowl. The Patriots have a mediocre running game and a mediocre (on its best days) defense. The Giants have already beaten the Patriots in a Super Bowl. The Patriots have never dominated anyone in a Super Bowl, winning three by three points each. There is absolutely no tangible reason why anyone should think that the Patriots can beat the Giants next weekend.

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It's about time Tom Coughlin gets his due as one of the truly great football coaches in the NFL. Every year Giants fans -- and Giant players -- want him fired. And every year he squeezes out every victory possible out of his roster. Coughlin has already engineered the greatest Super Bowl upset ever when his Giants beat the unbeaten Pats four years ago. He took an expansion Jacksonville Jaguars to two AFC title games. He's an old, gruff, tyrant of a head coach. Nobody likes him. His teams play boring football. But they win. And if they win next weekend, Coughlin deserves to go to Canton after he retires.

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Do you need any more proof that the NFL is more exciting than college football other than this year's NFL playoffs? The NFL has given us one amazing playoff game after another this postseason. Can you even remember anything about the college football bowl season?

. . .

Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers had an incredible season. Take away two silly punt returns and the 49ers would be in this year's Super Bowl and they might even be favored. But was this season their one legitimate chance of getting to the Super Bowl? That defense will never play better than it did this year. Was it a fluke year when everything just fell into place? The question the 49ers must ask themselves is whether or not Alex Smith can get them to a Super Bowl. Right now we don't really know.

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The American League can beat the National League in the All Star Game just with first basemen in their lineup. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Paul Konerko, Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Adam Lind, Carlos Pena. The two happiest guys now that Fielder and Pujols have left the National League are Ryan Howard and Joey Votto. They should make the N.L. All Star team - as well as be in the running for the MVP trophy -- every year now.

. . .

Luke Babbitt got into the final minute of the Portland Trail Blazers' 101-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday and drained a 3-pointer. It was his first field goal in the NBA in nine months. The following night against Memphis he played three minutes, pulled down a rebound, committed a foul and a turnover and didn't play at all in the Blazers' next game. Babbitt has played just 17 minutes all season and if he doesn't play another minute this year he will have earned about $100,000 per minute. Armon Johnson is earning about three quarters of a million dollars to play in Boise this year. Still think they should have stayed at Nevada?


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The Record Courier Updated Jan 26, 2012 03:59PM Published Jan 26, 2012 03:58PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.