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Triple Crown in the WAC
by Harry Spencer
Dec 10, 2010 | 1073 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With its final game in the books for the Western Athletic Conference, the Nevada football team clinched a share of the 2010 WAC championship. Nevada, Hawaii and Boise State all finished with 7-1 records, so they split the crown three ways.

It is interesting, looking back, that Hawaii defeated Nevada then Boise State defeated Hawaii and, finally, Nevada defeated Boise. It is hard to pick a single winner out of that trifecta.

The biggest news for the Silver and Blue pigskinners came when the team was selected to go to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco to take on Boston College. Up until the last minute, it looked as if Nevada might have to go to Las Vegas for its bowl game. Since, historically, Nevada has never traveled well when it comes to fans attending a bowl game, no one was looking forward to another trip to Las Vegas. However, once the San Francisco date was announced, it took four days for the University of Nevada, Reno to sell about 16,000 tickets to the Bay Area encounter. There will be an enormous fleet of buses winding over Donner Summit come Jan. 9. Renoites always have been fond of the City By The Bay and the short, three-hour jaunt to San Francisco is a pleasurable ride, particularly if you don’t have to do the driving. Additionally, the airlines were adding extra flights to the area for the game and, even if it happens to snow on that January weekend, loyal fans will not hesitate to chain up their vehicles for the trip.

The euphoria of the Boise State defeat still persists in this area and if more tickets to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl can be obtained, Nevada might well fill half the seats at the 44,000-capacity stadium — the same stadium where the San Francisco Giants play baseball and where there is not a bad seat in the house.

Almost as exciting as the Pack’s season is the fact that coach Chris Ault has been named WAC coach of the year and quarterback Colin Kaepernick shared offensive player of the year honors with Boise State’s Kellen Moore, who is a finalist in the Heisman Trophy selection. Many here feel that Kaepernick is worthy of Heisman consideration just as Nevada’s quarterback Stan Heath was following the 1948 football season. While Heath finished fifth for the Heisman, he did garner first string All-American honors. It will be interesting to see where Kaepernick finishes regarding the All-American selections. Whatever the case, there will always be people who prefer one of the other as Nevada’s all-time greatest quarterback. Having seen them both in action, this writer has to give the passing edge to Heath and the running edge to Kaepernick. Another factor that skews the comparison is that Heath insisted on playing defense, which means he was on the field about twice as long as Kaepernick for each game.

Another interesting football statistic released this week was that, for his salary level, Ault is the biggest bargain in Division 1 football. Matching the number of wins divided into his annual take shows that Ault ranks at the top for lowest cost per win. In contrast, the Texas coach this year, who was paid $5 million plus, only won five games.

A surprise occurred mid-week when highly respected University of Florida coach Urban Meyer announced his retirement — this time for sure. Speculation ran rife that Boise State coach Chris Peterson, whose record stands at 60-5, would be one of the main contenders for Meyer’s job. Peterson was quick to deny any interest but as we all know, money rules in athletics on every level, so this story might not quite be finished.

Celebrity corner

Every John Wayne fan can still easily recall the year the iconic Western actor finally received his Oscar for his role in the movie “True Grit.” Now comes word that Jeff Bridges, who won the Oscar this year for “Crazyheart” is reprising the Rooster Cogburn role in the re-make of “True Grit,” which is set for general release this month. It will be interesting to see what sort of characterization of the leading character Bridges is able to pull off and how it compares with Wayne’s.

Every time we mention Wayne we have to add the fact that he, along with director John Ford, was the original winner of the Reno Silver Spurs, the Western Oscar of its day.

G.O.D. Club

still on the move

Reno’s peripatetic Good Old Days Club is still looking for a permanent home following the closure of the Siena Hotel, where it had been ensconced since the Reno Elks Club building started its lengthy renovation process. For it’s noon luncheon meeting on Dec. 17, the G.O.D. Club will be at the Tamarack Junction Casino on South Virginia. Founder of the organization, media personality Bob Carroll, will be the presenter at the meeting as he screens his iconic slide show about the Reno of old. Popular entertainer Burt Holiday, of Gaylords fame, will be the singing master of ceremonies and the Christmas-themed meeting will feature free raffle prizes, book signings and appearances by several Santas.

The G.O.D. club has been in existence for about two decades and was originally formed by Carroll and the late Reno photographer Don Dondero as a place where ex-press types and publicity/PR men could gather to tell tales of old Reno that never saw the light of day, either in print, on radio or television. The normal salty discourse at such gatherings was toned down quite a bit when the formerly all-male organization began inviting women to attend the luncheons. Traditionally, the G.O.D. Club features speakers that have actually lived the history of which they speak.

A permanent meeting place for the club is expected to be announced at the group’s January meeting, which also will be held at Tamarack Junction Casino.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in Harry Spencer’s column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.
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