Sports Fodder: How likely is it that 2010 turns into the norm?
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
Turn the clock back 15 or 20 years. And bring this year’s Nevada Wolf Pack football team, with its 13-1 record, No. 11 national ranking, Western Athletic Conference title and wins over Cal, Boise State, BYU and Boston College in the Kraft Bowl, with you. Do you think Stanford would be knocking on Chris Ault’s door right now asking him if he’s interested in their head coaching job? Hey, Ault’s Pistol offense scored more points against Cal (52) this year than Jim Harbaugh’s Andrew Luck offense (48). Nobody, not even Oregon or USC, dumped 52 on Cal like the Pack did last year. You bet Stanford would be talking to Ault right now if he was 15 or 20 years younger. Actually, they should have done it last week when Ault was in the neighborhood at AT&T Park. But, lucky for Nevada, Ault’s signature season came when he was 64-years-old. He insists he’s never going anywhere. Nobody is going to steal him now, he says. If it was 1995, though, with all that happened this year, the Pack might be looking for a new football coach right now.
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Is the 2010 Pack football season a bolt of lightning? Or can it happen on a consistent basis? Nobody really knows the answer to that burning question. A lot of things, not to mention a lot of bounces and one very momentous field goal attempt, went the Pack’s way this year. There will be a lot of questions surrounding the Pack next season. The biggest question is whether or not Colin Kaepernick can be replaced at quarterback. We all know that the strength of the Pack is the wolf but was the strength of the wolf the Kap? We’ll see.
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Ault’s Pistol offense might have to take a step or two back next year. With Kaepernick, Ault was finally able to put all of the read options in the Pack attack the last two years. The Pack next year will have an inexperienced quarterback unless, of course, they trade for Donovan McNabb or sign Vince Young. Ault might have to water down the offense a bit. The Pack head coach, though, did reveal something after the bowl game that was very telling about what he might do next year. He said that the Pack might have to use two quarterbacks to do the job that Kaepernick did this year. Could they use one guy (Mason Magleby) to handle the quarterback running plays (the Pack’s version of the Wildcat?) while Tyler Lantrip or Cody Fajardo perform the passing duties? Again, we’ll see.
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OK, Pack fans, it is now officially basketball season. The football fun is over. It’s time to get back to reality. And the reality is that your basketball team is 4-13. I know, I know. Four wins in the first 61 days. The football team had four wins in its first 23 days. And they only played one game a week. Your basketball team hasn’t been 4-13 since 1998-99, the year before Trent Johnson came to town to rescue the program from oblivion. It’s a little hard to stomach. I know, I know. But take heart. Don’t worry about 4-13. The record doesn’t matter. With this team it’s all about March 9-12 in Las Vegas at the WAC Tournament. And this team, this 4-13 team, this four-wins-in-two-months team, could be good enough to win it all in Vegas and go to the NCAA Tournament. The WAC is that mediocre this year and this Pack team is that talented. They just need time to grow. Eight weeks should be about right.
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I went 2-2 in my NFL predictions last week. Michael Vick and the defending Super Bowl champs let me down. This week I have even less of a clue. Shocking, huh? Stop laughing. So, yes, I know my NFL predictions right now are worth less to you than a plane ticket to Dallas the first week in February is for an Eagles and Saints fan right now. But here we go again (and, remember, stop laughing) . . . Bears over Seahawks, Falcons over Packers, Patriots over Jets and Steelers over Ravens. I wouldn’t be shocked to be 0-4 by late Sunday night. And I won’t take any credit for going 4-0. All four of these games are that difficult to pick.
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The Portland Trail Blazers look like an episode of E.R., Mash and General Hospital right now. Players are getting hurt faster than you can say Fabricio Oberto. And Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson still can’t get off the bench. Yes, Babbitt has 1.4 million reasons to be happy and Johnson has just under 500,000 reasons to smile. But both those guys are tremendous competitors. It has to be difficult watching Patrick Mills and Dante Cunningham play while you sit on the bench in your sweatpants. Why did Portland, mediocre team going nowhere this year, go out of its way to get the two Pack stars last June if they weren’t going to play them this year.
Joe Santoro is a freelance writer for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.