by Joe Santoro

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February 15, 2013
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Sports Fodder: Mountain West has been a challenge for the Pack


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

The Nevada Wolf Pack's first season in the Mountain West has certainly been an eye-opener. The football team went 7-6 and choked away games all season long, causing its Hall of Fame coach to quit and now the men's basketball team is 12-12 and sinking fast. Is this what Wolf Pack fans have to look forward to in the Mountain West? What happened to those easy, breezy, carefree days in the Western Athletic Conference? Why can't the Pack compete in the Mountain West in its two most important sports? Actually, this is nothing new. When the Pack first went to the WAC, the football team went 2-10 and the basketball team went 10-18. So, on second thought, this season has been an enormous success.

. . .

Coach David Carter just can't seem to get a handle on this Wolf Pack basketball team. The team, for some reason, isn't responding to him. The Pack doesn't play hard for more than a few minutes in a row, it is badly constructed with half the team playing out of position and it doesn't do the two things that this program has been based on since Trent Johnson came from Stanford in 1999 - rebound and play defense. It's a team that doesn't play with confidence or passion from one night to the next. Carter has to do a lot of soul searching after this season concerning where this program is headed and what players are going to take them there.

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The Mountain West might need to change its name to the We Protect Boise State Conference. The conference has all but guaranteed Boise State a spot in the league's football championship game every season by lumping them in a division with Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming. The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, has to deal with Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State, San Jose State and UNLV every year. You can see why Boise came back to the Mountain West.

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The Wolf Pack football team will play its toughest road schedule in school history this fall. The Pack has to go to UCLA, Florida State, Boise State, San Diego State, Fresno State and Colorado State this season. Chris Ault, it turns out, knew when to jump ship. The good news is that Pack fans might not see new coach Brian Polian lose at home. All the games at Mackay -- Air Force, UNLV, Hawaii, San Jose State, BYU and certainly UC Davis -- are very winnable. Looks like a 7-5 Pack season at best.

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It is ridiculous that Boise and Nevada are not in the same division. The two schools certainly have the best- football rivalry in the conference. The way things stand now Boise will be making just one trip to Mackay Stadium (2014) in the next four years and the teams won't even play each other in 2015 and 2016. We should have seen this coming. College football isn't about rivalries anymore. It's just about back-slapping and stranger-hugging college presidents and athletic directors who know nothing about college football and its tradition playing musical chairs with conference alignments and schedules just to make sure they keep earning six and seven figures.

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The NCAA is considering a rule that will require football teams to wear either a jersey or a pair of pants that are a different color than their playing field. It is obviously the Boise State rule. The Mountain West prohibited Boise from wearing its all-blue uniforms on its blue turf in league games and now the NCAA wants every school to follow the same rule in all games. It's just an ESPN rule. It is hard to see players wearing all blue on a blue turf on television. It has nothing to do with the actual playing of the game. The Wolf Pack, after all, used to give up five and six touchdowns to Boise State whether it was on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium or the green turf of Mackay Stadium.

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South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is supposedly considering sitting out his junior year because he doesn't want to get hurt before the 2014 NFL draft. If Clowney is truly that frightened of getting hurt, he needs to challenge the silly rule that won't allow players to enter the NFL draft unless they have been out of high school for at least three years. Basketball allows high school kids to go to the NBA. Baseball allows high school kids to get paid. Why not football? Clowney, though, better not sit out. If you are a NFL team, do you really want a guy so selfish that he would choose to sit out a whole year of football just to make sure he gets paid rather than help his teammates win a championship? Is that a guy who would play hurt in the NFL?


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The Record Courier Updated Feb 15, 2013 02:19PM Published Feb 15, 2013 02:17PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.