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Sports Fodder: Campbell not that different from Plunkett

by Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

The easy reaction after hearing Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis compare quarterback Jason Campbell to Jim Plunkett is laughter. Laughter, after all, is the normal reaction to everything Davis and the Raiders have done in recent years. But it might be time to stop snickering at the Silver & Black. The old man may be on to something here. Yes, Plunkett won two Super Bowls for the Raiders but other than those two glorious days Plunkett had a very mediocre-to-bad NFL career. Plunkett never threw for 3,000 yards in a year. Campbell has done it twice already. Plunkett threw more interceptions than touchdowns in his career. Campbell has 55 TDs and 38 interceptions. Plunkett had just one year with 20 or more TDs. Campbell already has one. Plunkett was as mobile as Mount Rushmore by the time he got to the Raiders. Campbell can run like Colin Kaepernick. Campbell might be even better than Plunkett. Now all the Raiders need to do is go out and find another Marcus Allen, Todd Christensen, Cliff Branch, Rod Martin, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw.

. . .

Has it sunk in yet how realistic it is that the Boise State Broncos could be playing for the college football national championship at the end of this season? The Broncos, ranked in the Top 5 of all the major preseason polls, are in position to do the impossible. All they need to do is go undefeated (again) and the BCS probably won’t be able to keep them out of the title game. We say probably because if there are two other unbeaten teams from the power conferences (we’re talking the likes of Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, Florida, etc.) the Broncos will be left playing in one of the countless exhibition bowl games (again). But the Broncos have just as good a chance of getting to the title game as anybody, maybe better because they don’t have to play a Big Ten, SEC, Big 12 or Pac-10 schedule.

. . .

College football is like boxing in that it makes you earn your title shot. You can’t just get lucky for a couple weekends like George Mason and Butler in college basketball and find yourself in the title game. In football, you have to be great for a number of years before you get to sit at the big boys’ table. Boise has paid its dues. They are at the big boys’ table ready to feast.

. . .

It would be nice if the Western Athletic Conference hired a public relations firm to promote Nevada, Fresno State and any other WAC football team that might emerge as a powerhouse this year. They did it for Boise State last year. Why not do it for the schools that will be in the conference after this year?

. . .

Give the Reno Bighorns a big pat on the back for hiring Eric Musselman as their head coach. Musselman’s hiring has tremendous historical ties for this area. His dad, Bill, was the Reno Bighorns coach in 1979 in the Western Basketball Association. The vintage Bighorns, led by Musselman and Randy Ayers, went to the WBA championship series before losing to Tucson. Eric was 14-years-old that season (he went to high school in a suburb of Cleveland). Eric, a former NBA head coach (Golden State, Sacramento) is one of the brightest young coaches in basketball.

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ESPN polled all of its basketball experts recently on who they believe will win the NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2010-11. To nobody’s surprise, John Wall was the overwhelming favorite to win the honor. Blake Griffin, who missed all of last year with an injury, is also still considered to be a rookie and he finished second. Wall will probably win it but don’t overlook DeMarcus Cousins. Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson did not get a single vote.

. . .

The more you watch Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies this year the more you realize how clueless the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks must be. The Diamondbacks traded him to Oakland in the Dan Haren deal a few years back and the A’s traded him to Colorado before last season in the Matt Holliday deal. Haren is no longer with Arizona and Holliday is no longer with Oakland. The 24-year-old Gonzalez, who played with Colorado Springs against the Aces at Reno Aces Ballpark in 2009, is fighting for the National League Triple Crown this year and is arguably the best young hitter in the sport.

Joe Santoro is a freelance writer for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.