Nevada football coach Chris Ault admits he doesn't know a whole lot about Washington State, which visits Mackay Stadium Friday at 7 p.m., but it's not for lack of trying.
Since Nevada didn't play over the weekend and didn't face Washington State last season, the teams were not obligated to share game film.
That leaves Ault with just watching the television broadcast of last Thursday's Idaho-WSU game, which isn't overly helpful.
"You can see fronts," Ault said on the weekly Western Athletic Conference teleconference Monday morning. "You don't see much of the secondary or the pass routes and stuff. It's better than nothing."
Ault did approach Idaho about getting a copy of the film, but was denied. Ault said there are often times agreements in place that forbid a team from giving a copy of the tape to another team. He didn't give a reason for Idaho's rejection.
GAMES FOR WAC
The WAC is playing some nonconference games this year, including last Saturday's USC-Hawai'i and Boise State-Georgia contests.
This week Hawai'i visits Michigan State, New Mexico State travels to Colorado and Louisiana Tech visits Florida. Down the road, you have New Mexico State hosting Cal on Sept. 23, Fresno State visiting USC on Nov. 19 and Utah State at Alabama on Oct. 29.
What are the pros and cons of playing games like that?
"Number one, when you go on the road, you get a big check," Hawai'i coach June Jones said. "Number two, if you're lucky enough to win, it puts the conference and the team in the spotlight."
Jones believes it's better to play better competition because it will help you later in the year in tough conference games.
Hal Mumme of New Mexico State takes the opposite view. He inherited a nonconference schedule that included Colorado, UTEP, Cal and New Mexico. He wants to lighten the load somewhat once existing contracts are up, meaning that Cal and Colorado probably won't play the Aggies anytime soon.
"We'll play New Mexico and UTEP every year," Mumme said. "We might get a 1-AA team occasionally so we can get an extra home game. We will look at the Mountain West, the MAC and Conference USA (for games)."
Then there is Louisiana Tech, which always seems to play big-name schools every year in an attempt to fill up its war chest with money to help fund other sports on campus.
A year ago, the Bulldogs played Auburn, Tennessee and Miami in a four-week stretch. No athletic director in his right mind saddles a coach with that schedule unless the program needs money, and the Bulldogs raked in more than $2 million from those three contests.
Karl Benson, the WAC commissioner, admitted he was disappointed with the WAC's 1-4 performance in nonconference games last week.
Boise State, ranked 18th, lost 48-13 to No. 13 Georgia; UTEP downed New Mexico State 34-17; Washington State edged Idaho 38-26; No. 1 USC hammered Hawai'i 63-17; and San Jose State topped Eastern Washington 35-24.
"I expected a better first week," Benson said. "We have 25 more non-conference gams. We have great opportunities in nationally televised games."
Benson said the WAC's bowl situation is "status quo." The WAC has guaranteed spots in both the MPC Computers Bowl at Boise State and the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl in Honolulu.
Benson said he is still talking with the Liberty Bowl, which has one at-large slot open each year for its game. Benson said the Mountain West Conference also is talking with Liberty Bowl officials. Both conferences would like to see their champion get guaranteed slots.
Benson said because the WAC has just two spots, Hawai'i is no longer assured of an automatic spot unless it finishes first or second. If a WAC team gets invited to a non-WAC bowl game, the Rainbows, as long as they are bowl eligible would be assured a spot in that game no matter what place they finish in the conference.
IDAHO COACH UPBEAT
Idaho coach Nick Holt, save for the first minute of last Thursday's 38-26 loss at Washington State, was upbeat about his team's effort.
The Cougars scored on their first play from scrimmage, and Idaho's Antwaun Sherman fumbled the ensuing kickoff at the IU 19. Four plays later, WSU was in the end zone again to make it 14-0.
"After the first minute, we battled back, and made it a football game," Holt said. " You can't give a team 14 points and expect to be successful."
Holt still didn't give an indication of where the quarterback battle between JC transfer Steven Wichman and incumbent Michael Harrington stands.
Harrington, younger brother of Joey Harrington of the Detroit Lions, started and left after going 6-for-9 passing for 37 yards and a score. Wichman completed 13 of 23 for 143 yards and one score.
"I have good feelings about both," Holt said. "The new guy (Wichman) keeps getting better."
RAINBOWS LOSE TWO STARTERS
Talk about adding injury to insult.
Hawai'i lost safety Leonard Peters to a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and starting slotback Jason Ferguson to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Saturday's 63-17 loss to USC.
Jones expects both to miss the season, although if Peters is a fast healer, he could return sometime in November. Peters was injured in the fourth quarter.
Ferguson's injury happened when he returned the opening kickoff against USC. He wasn't even supposed to be on the field, but Mikhail Kafentzis was getting his helmet fixed and wasn't ready. Ferguson went onto the field. He fielded the kick, and just as he reached the wedge, a USC defender was right on him. Ferguson jumped and eluded the USC tackler, but landed directly on his right knee. Ferguson stayed in long enough to catch a pass for six yards before heading to the sideline.
Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell said he spent most of Saturday helping refugees from Hurricane Katrina. The Bulldogs' head coach said there are refugees all over the tiny town of Ruston.
"We're trying to get refugees organized," said Bicknell, who said he was unable to watch much television on Saturday. "It's an unbelievable situation. We have 15 or 16 kids (affected by Hurricane Katrina) and their relatives are all accounted for except two."
One of Bicknell's players, who did not want his name to be released to the media, learned of two deaths in his family last week. Bicknell said the player drove back home to search for his missing mother, but received word via cell phone that she had been located while he was en route home.
WAC HONORS TRIO
San Jose State's quarterback Adam Trafalis and punter Waylon Prather, and New Mexico State linebacker Jimmy Cottrell were named the top players in the WAC.
Trafalis completed 21 of 34 passes for 290 yards and two scores to lead the Spartans to a 35-24 win over Eastern Washington. Trafalis also rushed for two scores. Prather averaged 40.8 on his five kicks, and put three of those inside the EWU 20-yard line.
"He (Trafalis) was working out the first day I got here," Tomey said. "He's trying to be all things to all people, and at the same time get better. He showed good judgment most of the time. That was the first full game he's ever played."
Cottrell racked up18 tackles in the 34-17 loss to arch-rival UTEP on Saturday night.
"He's a warrior," NMSU coach Hal Mumme said. "He plays every snap full out. He's a great leader."
n Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (775) 881-1281
THIS WEEK IN THE WAC
Washington State at Nevada, 7 p.m., ESPN
Hawai'i at Michigan State
Louisiana Tech at Florida
Boise State at Oregon State
Utah State at Utah
New Mexico State at Colorado
Weber State at Fresno State
San Jose State at Illinois
Idaho at UNLV