Norvell faces a specific challenge with Wolf Pack
August 18, 2017
Sports fodder for a Friday morning …
Jay Norvell might not know it yet but he has a very specific challenge ahead of him. He needs to breathe life into the dormant Nevada Wolf Pack football program. When the Pack made the jump to Division I-A in 1992, it was considered a sleeping giant that simply needed to grow hair on its chest. Well, 25 years later and we are still waiting for that giant to mature. For the most part since 1992, big-boy football at Nevada has been a series of uninspiring, lifeless seasons filled with broken promises and excuses. But all Norvell has talked about so far is how he wants his coaches to love his players and his players to love each other. Call it the Wolf Pack football commune. Don't be surprised to see a Wolf Pack commercial filmed atop a grassy hill with the players, coaches and cheerleaders all singing "Id like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony." That's all well and good. We could all use a little more peace and love. But it will be more important for Norvell to teach them how to win football games.
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Norvell has a chance to do something special at the University of Nevada. It is something he couldn't do at Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Nebraska, UCLA and the Oakland Raiders because, well, those proud football institutions were bigger than Jay Norvell. Norvell, an unheard of assistant coach, was just a piece in the machine at those places. He was just an assistant coach doing what all assistant coaches do, making sure the players all loved each other and loved him. At Nevada, though, he is the machine. And nobody loves the head coach. Ask Chris Ault. Norvell might not know it yet but he has to win. And win big. Maybe not right away. But soon. Pack fans have grown weary of five, six and seven-win seasons. Those type of seasons put giants and fans to sleep.
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Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown was seen on TMZ this week questioning Raiders' running back Marshawn Lynch for sitting down during the national anthem last week. Brown simply wondered why Lynch would want to bring attention upon himself and his teammates. Brown, though, had an even greater point that TMZ and the media failed to emphasize. He said that in 2001 NFL players were told that they needed to play games (after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks) in order "to heal the country." He said that people don't go to football games to see players protest. He said they go to football games to get away from those things, that sports is an escape from everyday problems. Those days, unfortunately, are over.
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Floyd Mayweather and the sport of boxing have everything to lose during the Aug. 26 Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight. McGregor and mixed martial arts have nothing to lose. Boxing and its fans have always looked down their nose at the mixed martial arts. Boxing, they say, is the sweet science. MMA is just a street fight where one guy kicks, punches and elbows the other into submission. But what if McGregor beats Mayweather? Will it be the end of boxing? Let's hope so before it turns into professional wrestling.
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The Nevada State Athletic Commission should never have gotten behind the Mayweather-McGregor fight. Why sanction a boxing match between a 40-year-old champion with an undefeated record against a guy who has never had a professional fight? Also, why would the NSAC allow McGregor and Mayweather to use eight-ounce gloves in a 154-pound fight? Doesn't the NSAC require that all fights above 147 pounds use 10-ounce gloves? Why is the NSAC selling its soul? Athletic Commissions are supposed to be the only entity connected to boxing that cannot be persuaded with dollars. Those days, too, are over.
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The only way McGregor can win is with a knockout. There is no way boxing judges will ever give a decision to a MMA fighter who doesn't know a thing about boxing against one of their greatest champions. And considering that nobody has ever come close to knocking out Mayweather in a boxing match, well, you would have to conclude that McGregor has no chance to win on Aug. 26.
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Why are McGregor and Mayweather going to fight? It is the same reason why any fighter — be it boxing or MMA — even steps into the boxing ring or MMA cage in the first place. The dollars. But don't look down upon fighters for that reason alone. Dollars are the reason why any sport exists. The only reason the Wolf Pack football team is going to Northwestern on Sept. 2 to open the season, instead of playing UC Davis, Sacramento State or Cal Poly at home, is because they will come home with $1.3 million dollars. Coaches and athletic directors enjoy their six and seven-figure salaries. Mayweather would fight a crocodile in a river or a bear in the woods and McGregor would take a Clayton Kershaw fastball in the ribs for the chance at a $100 million payday. And we all will watch.
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The team that is getting the most bets in Las Vegas sports books to win the Super Bowl is the Oakland-Los Angeles-Las Vegas Raiders. The New England Patriots, of course, are the favorites to win the Super Bowl but the Raiders are getting the bulk of the action. We are getting an early glimpse from a sports betting perspective on what kind of influence we are going to see with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. It is going to drastically affect the betting lines as most Southern Nevadans start to bet with their hearts.
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Is it important for the Los Angeles Dodgers to set a major league baseball record with 117 regular season wins this year? Absolutely not. The 2001 Seattle Mariners and the 1906 Chicago Cubs, who both own the record at 116 wins, both did not win the World Series. Nobody cares about regular season win records. Just ask the 2007 New England Patriots and 2015-16 Golden State Warriors. It will be the same for Mayweather. If he loses to McGregor, nobody will care that he went 49-0 to start his career. The only thing people will remember is that he lost to a crazy MMA fighter.
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