Sports Fodder: Chances for Nevada depend on defense |

Sports Fodder: Chances for Nevada depend on defense

by Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

The Wolf Pack football team just might make all of the good folks in the Western Athletic Conference’s offices in Colorado a little sad this holiday season. The Biggest Little Conference in the World would like nothing more than to have Hawaii sail through the remainder of its regular season, earn a BCS bowl bid and finish as the only unbeaten team in the nation. That will all go out the window tonight, however, if (when?) the Pack beats the Warriors at Mackay Stadium. This little unspoken quandary – conferences rooting for one team or another to win a conference game – is another reason why Division I-A football needs to do away with its bowl game format.

By the way, why, exactly, are the WAC offices in Colorado? The conference has schools in seven states. Pick one.

How realistic a chance does the Wolf Pack have of beating Hawaii? Well, if the Pack defense actually shows up for a possession or two, the Pack’s chances are good. Hawaii has never won a game in Reno. But if the Pack defense continues its disappearing act, Hawaii will act out its version of That 70s Show and light up the scoreboard well into Saturday morning. Odds are the final score tonight is going to make the Pack-Boise final look like a World Cup soccer game. And if the game goes into overtime, well, better bring a sleeping bag to Mackay, folks.

We’re just asking, but how in the world will the Wolf Pack justify putting quarterback Colin Kaepernick back on the bench next season when Nick Graziano returns? Make no mistake, coach Chris Ault is not going to be afraid of hurting anybody’s feelings. Just ask Fred Gatlin. Ault will play the quarterback he feels gives the Pack the best chance to win. And, right now, that appears to be “Cool Hand” Kaepernick, especially if he steals Heisman votes away from Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan tonight on national TV.

The Heisman vote is another reason why the WAC folks will be rooting for Hawaii, and Brennan tonight. Short of a BCS title game, there’s nothing that helps a football conference more than to have one of its own sitting and smiling in New York on Heisman day. Brennan is going to go down in history as one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football history. He deserves a ton of Heisman votes. But if Kaepernick outplays him on national TV most Heisman voters will just chalk up Brennan’s gaudy numbers to playing in a no-defense, Arena League conference.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again to make sure the rest of the WAC notices it. This is Ault’s best coaching job as a Division I-A coach. And if the Pack beats Hawaii tonight there won’t be any question about it. Don’t forget that this Pack team plays defense as often as Brittney Spears wears underwear and had two untested quarterbacks with more syllables in their last names than game experience when the year started. With any defense at all, this team would be sitting at 8-1 this year. That’s not Ault’s fault.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Alex Rodriguez is headed back to New York. The Yankees are the only team rich enough and dumb enough to pay someone more than $25 million a year to play baseball.

Why doesn’t college football have any great teams anymore? And why are there only a handful of standout quarterbacks in the NFL? Something tells me the two questions are related somehow. Nick Graziano might not be able to get on the field next season at Nevada but he could start for about a dozen NFL teams right now.

The Wolf Pack basketball team enjoyed a solid start on the road to start its season. JaVale McGee looks like he will be a force this year and Armon Johnson will likely be the best freshman in the WAC. It should all add up to another 20-victory season and NCAA Tournament spot. And next year after Luke Babbitt arrives you might see the Pack back in the Top 25 rankings every week.

The NFL sure is lucky it has the New England Patriots this year. Without the Patriots and their journey to an unbeaten season, the league would just be a mix of underachieving, up-one-week-and-down-the-next sorry excuses for franchises.

Barry Bonds didn’t seem to be on any team’s radar this off-season. And now he has been indicted on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges. The man’s career is now probably over and if he’s found guilty you won’t ever see him or his likeness in Cooperstown. The best thing Bonds can do for his legacy (what’s left of it) now is to quietly disappear into the sunset.

Ricky Williams has been reinstated by the NFL. Isn’t that nice? The Miami Dolphins’ season just keeps on getting better and better, doesn’t it? It’s almost Thanksgiving and the team still doesn’t have a victory, the Patriots are about to push the 1972 Dolphins and their unbeaten season aside, Don Shula makes a fool of himself by saying the Patriots’ season should have an asterisk next to it and now Williams comes back. This train wreck of a season is making Dolphins’ fans long for the days when all they had to worry about is watching Flipper do his tricks in the tank behind the end zone in the Orange Bowl and which sunscreen to wear on game day.

The Boston Red Sox and Oakland A’s (yes, folks, Oakland still has a major league team) are going to open the 2008 baseball season in Japan on March 25. Horrible idea. First of all, March 25 is way too early to open the baseball season. Second, why rob a city and its fans of a couple precious home dates? And, third, why the A’s. We understand the lure of the Red Sox. They are the World Series champs and Daisuke Matsuzaka is undoubtedly going to pitch one of the games. But why would anyone in Japan care about seeing the A’s? Nobody in the Bay area, never mind Japan, cares about the A’s right now.

What, exactly, is keeping the New York Knicks from firing Isiah Thomas? Every decision the man has made – not to mention his sexual harassment case this summer – has been a disaster. And now he is yelling at and fighting with Stephon Marbury on the team plane. Joe Torre, who won a handful of championships, gets treated like garbage by management in New York and Thomas, who can’t even get his team into the playoffs, still has a job.

Don’t be shocked to see Jim Harbaugh replace Lloyd Carr at Michigan by the start of next year.