Sports Fodder: Maybe kids at mall can play defense for Nevada |

Sports Fodder: Maybe kids at mall can play defense for Nevada

by Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

It is time the Wolf Pack football program changes its focus. All offense all the time has been great fun. It has put the Wolf Pack and head coach Chris Ault on the college football map. We have no doubt that Ault could go to Meadowood Mall, pick out 11 kids at random and coach them up to score 28 points the following Saturday. Great. Outstanding. Nice job. A great offense is no small accomplishment. But is that all there is? It’s time to take this football program to the next level. And the only way to reach that level is to make defense as important as offense.

Why can’t the Wolf Pack be the next Missouri? Why can’t the Pack be the next Kansas? Defense. That’s why. The Pack averages 35 points a game this year on offense yet still finds itself at 5-6 with a week left in the regular season. This has to be the most frustrating Pack season since it made the move to Division I-A in 1992. Five of the six losses have been by a combined 20 points. This team could be 10-1 right now if it allowed no more than 23 points in any one game.

That’s all we’re asking out of this defense. Mediocrity. When you have a great offense, all you need is a mediocre defense. We’re not asking for shutouts. We’re not asking for the 1939 Tennessee team that didn’t allow a single point in 10 games or the 1961 Alabama club that allowed 25 points in 11 games. So, go ahead, Pack defense. Give up three touchdowns a game. No big deal. We guarantee the victories will come. Since moving to Division I-A in 1992, the Wolf Pack has gone 51-4 when it has held opponents to 21 points or fewer. When the Pack has allowed 22 or more points, it has gone 47-84 during the same time. Not even those 11 mall kids can overcome a defense that allows 22 or more points 70 percent of the time.

It’s time for the annual baseball Hall of Fame debate. Who should get in? Who should be left out? Well, here’s one man’s Hall of Fame ballot (if I had one, that is): Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Rich Gossage, Tommy John, Mark McGwire, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Dave Concepcion and Harold Baines. End of debate.

The only guy on the above list who might be a reach for the Hall is Rice. His numbers were inflated by playing in Fenway Park in the middle of a great lineup his entire career and he still didn’t hit 500 home runs. But those other nine guys are clear Hall of Famers, with or without steroids. Unfortunately, most of the voters are under-40 brainwashed idiots whose baseball knowledge begins and ends with Sports Center highlights. That’s why Gossage will likely be the only one who gets in this year.

We can’t say enough about the class of the Colorado Rockies organization. The Rockies are going to award a full World Series share (more than $200,000 for the Rockies players) to the widow of minor league coach Mike Coolbaugh, who died this summer after getting hit with a foul ball during a game. We’re also thrilled to see that big league first and third base coaches will now be required to wear some sort of protective headgear, meaning that Coolbaugh didn’t die for no reason.

Will anybody watch a Missouri-West Virginia college football championship game? Of course not. Who cares who wins?

Hawaii and the Western Athletic Conference are getting a raw deal by the BCS. Hawaii is the only unbeaten team left in Division I-A. It should be ranked no worse than fifth. Who says Hawaii’s schedule hasn’t been tough? A computer? The nerds who program the computer? If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that there are no more super powers and super conferences in college football. No less than a dozen teams who have been ranked in the Top 5 this year have been beaten by an unranked team. If you are the last unbeaten team standing, you should be playing for the championship. It’s that simple. That’s how it works in every other sport in the history of the world. Why not big-time college football?

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan should also be getting more Heisman Trophy respect than he is getting? Have you seen his stats (33 touchdowns and 3,732 yards in nine games)? And, by the way, the guy hasn’t lost a game this year. The national media barely even mentions his name when it comes to listing the Heisman candidates. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow deserves to win the award – his 838 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns are the difference – but Brennan should be the runner-up.

Everybody thought agent Scott Boras finally lost a battle when Alex Rodriguez was headed back to the New York Yankees for a mere $275 million for 10 years. But it turns out that A-Rod will earn $305 million over the life of the contract when he surpasses Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds in the home run race. That will happen in six or seven years. Get one thing straight: Boras never loses anything.

When will LSU learn? When will the storied football program hire a coach who really wants to stay there? First Nick Saban and now Les Miles. As soon as LSU gets good, its coach leaves. Miles, it seems, already has a foot in Ann Arbor, Mich. Once a Michigan man, always a Michigan man, remember? Yes, Chris Ault (a Nevada man if ever there was one) flirted with going to other schools. He owed it to his family to check out the world outside of the McCarran circle. But Ault stayed. The Wolf Pack has never really appreciated how lucky it has been for the past three decades.

The death of Washington Redskins defensive back Sean Taylor is a huge tragedy. But it’s time the national media stops treating it like it was the death of a president or a world leader. A little perspective is needed. Move on. Now.

The NFL Network is all well and good. It’s the perfect place for mindless chatter about the league and endless replays of the big games and highlights of the previous week. But when you have a game that is as big as Dallas-Green Bay, an obscure cable station is not the place for it. The day will come when there will be no more games on free TV. It’s coming folks. Soon.