Powers deserved more from departure
Special to The R-C
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
Gary Powers coached at the University of Nevada longer (31 years) than any coach in the history of the school, won more games (937) than any Nevada coach, sent nearly 100 players to the professional ranks and went to four NCAA regionals. It was sort of fitting, though, that Powers’ retirement announcement last Friday was made via a sterile university e-mail in the middle of the day while Powers was in his car driving back home from the Mountain West tournament. Powers, after all, never got the respect he deserved at Nevada. This was a coach who couldn’t simply give the ball to Colin Kaepernick on every play for four years or dump it into Nick Fazekas for four years. He never had a meaningless bowl game or a dot.com postseason tournament to pump up his resume. He had to coach a warm weather sport in an area where it could snow for three-fourths of the season and compete against the elite of his sport for any postseason recognition. He deserves a parade down Virginia Street and not merely some e-mail slipped into our in boxes in the middle of the day.
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Who should the university hire to replace Powers? There are literally dozens of qualified candidates. But the top of that list should include the likes of Oregon assistant Jay Uhlman, UNLV assistant Stan Stolte, Wolf Pack assistant Buddy Gouldsmith and Western Nevada head coach D.J. Whittemore. All four would be an excellent choice as the next Pack coach. If the university wants to think out of the box, though, it needs to give the Savage family a call. John Savage, a former Pack assistant, is now head coach at UCLA. He’s one of the top coaches in the nation, having led the Bruins to two College World Series. Yes, he’d be crazy to leave UCLA for Nevada. But Northern Nevada is his home. Pete Savage, the head coach at Reno High for the better part of the last two decades, is one of the best coaches (of any sport) in the history of Nevada high school sports. He would be phenomenal at Nevada.
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Former San Francisco 49ers’ running back Roger Craig will be the guest speaker at the Governor’s Dinner on July 12. Craig, one of the NFL’s all-time nice guys, is a fine choice. He can reassure Pack fans how great of a guy Colin Kaepernick truly is and how Kaepernick is going to lead the 49ers to six Super Bowl titles in the next eight years. A good time will be had by all at the $300-a-plate dinner at the Gov’s mansion. But if former Pack coaches Chris Ault and Powers are not at least honored at this year’s dinner, well, it would be a serious blunder on the part of the athletic department. Ault and Powers are the two greatest coaches in Wolf Pack history. Nobody else even comes close. Nobody will ever come close to them at Nevada.
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Nobody wants to see an Indiana Pacers-San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals. A Spurs-Miami Heat Finals, though, could be a classic. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh against Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. The ultimate team (Spurs) against the ultimate fantasy team (Heat). An old dynasty (Spurs) against a dynasty-in-the-making (Heat). The Pacers would kill TV ratings This isn’t Reggie Miller’s Pacers. This is just the we’re-in-the-East- Finals-because-Derrick-Rose-got-hurt-and-the-Celtics-got-old Pacers.
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The last four Stanley Cup winners — the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins — are in the NHL’s Final Four. That is a very difficult thing to accomplish. First of all, you need four different champions in the last four years. And, second, you need two different champions from each conference in the last four years. In other words, no dynasties allowed.
It can’t happen in baseball this fall because the Giants have won two of the last three World Series titles and it can’t happen in the NFL next year because three of the last four Super Bowl winners have been from the NFC. It didn’t happen in the NBA this year because, well, the NBA will never let the Pacers (or the Memphis Grizzlies) win a title.
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It’s all well and good that the NBA is fining players for what they call “flopping.” But why stop there? If the league really wants to eliminate fake fouls in the NBA, it should also fine the idiot officials who call fouls on players who were the obvious victim of a flop. Flopping is an art form. If a player can get away with it, good for him. It should be on the officials to control it, not the players. The officials, after all, are the ones calling the bogus fouls.
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Don’t be surprised if former Nevada Wolf Pack tight end Zach Sudfeld is seen catching Tom Brady passes this season with the New England Patriots. Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is going under the knife for back surgery this off-season so there could be room for Sudfeld, who wasn’t even drafted, to step in on the depth chart. Sudfeld is already getting noticed by the Patriots’ media this spring for the way his long hair flows out of the back of his helmet and, oh yeah, for the way he runs routes and catches the football. He can definitely play in the NFL. And it wouldn’t be the first time the Patriots saw something in a player that nobody else saw.