When Cary Groth took over as Nevada's athletic director, one of her primary goals was to establish a solid Division I football schedule.
Groth and Rory Hickok, assistant athletic director, announced Friday at the 37th annual Governor's Dinner that the Wolf Pack will play at Nebraska in 2007, and are close to finalizing agreements with Florida State and Notre Dame for away contests within the next four years.
"It's really exciting," Groth said. "Playing a 1-A schedule is what universities (are supposed to) do. It's a great recruiting tool. When you know you are going to Lincoln or Notre Dame it helps in recruiting. It puts Nevada on the map."
Added Hickok, "We're getting it started. It's a real positive start."
The agreement with Nebraska is for only one year, and Hickok said Nevada will receive a significant amount of money to play one of the top programs in the country.
"They (Nebraska) were very gracious," Hickok said. "We talked extensively. It will be exciting to go back there."
Hickok also said that negotiations to play at Florida State in 2008 are almost complete, and that Nevada will play at Notre Dame as early as 2009 and no later than 2011. Both contracts with those perennial powerhouses also are for one year.
Nevada's strategy is easy to see. A stronger schedule will help in recruiting and also will fill up the school's coffers. After all, college football is a business. Certainly the away games are nice, but the Pack needs to get some name schools to come to town.
The home and home deal with Northwestern is complete. The Big 10 school will play at Nevada in 2006 and host the Wolf Pack in 2007. Utah also is negotiating with the Wolf Pack to play in 2006.
Groth also said she and Hickok are negotiating with Illinois of the Big 10 and Iowa State. Those are solid programs, both of which might be enticed to come to Nevada once.