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Pack Stays in the Wac
by Harry Spencer
Oct 29, 2010 | 1807 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Bryne - Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick prepares to throw the football down field during a game against Cal State on Sept. 17 at Mackay Stadium at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Tribune/John Bryne - Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick prepares to throw the football down field during a game against Cal State on Sept. 17 at Mackay Stadium at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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For the better part of this week rumors have swirled throughout the sporting fraternity in northern Nevada that an impending deal between the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the University of Nevada, Reno would be formally announced at any moment. That moment arrived Thursday when it was confirmed that Nevada will compete in the WAC through the 2011-12 season and then move on to the Mountain West Conference (MWC).

Instead of the move after this season, which might have cost Nevada a $5 million exit fee, the new agreement means Nevada will have to shell out about $1.5 million of which $900,000 would be in cash as an exit fee and the balance would be covered by Nevada forfeiting any WAC Bowl money that might be the team’s this season.

Probably the most compelling argument that WAC Commissioner Karl Benson had going for him during the negotiations was that early Pack, Fresno and Boise State defections would have ruined his 2011-12 football scheduling. Threatened to being reduced to only six teams next season, Benson would have been hard pressed to re-juggle his scheduling in any way to make it significant. Also, it might have been a problem for the MWC to cobble a schedule together to accommodate three new entrants.

The agreement brings to a close months of what started out as a “pitched battle” between the commissioner and the defectors, began to soften about 30 days ago and now have reached what is being touted as an amicable solution.

The true winner in all this might be Boise State. The team will move on to the MWC next year because it announced its decision to do so in plenty of time to meet the WAC deadline for such an announcement. There is no argument that both Nevada and Fresno State missed the deadline and by doing so put their respective schools in a rather untenable position.

When the dust finally settles, it will mean that Nevada coach Chris Ault will have a full year of rebuilding prior to entering the MWC and that he might have a shot at a clear win of the WAC championship without his nemesis, Boise State, being present.

On the other side of the coin Ault will be losing some of his most talented players from this year’s team, primarily superstar quarterback Colin Kaepernick, so he might be counting his blessings that he does not have to go up against some of the heavy hitters of the MWC, which will include Boise State.

One of the most pressing questions about this year’s edition of the Wolf Pack 11 might be answered tonight when the Silver and Blue take on Utah State at Mackay Stadium. The Pack, which has failed to cover the spread in its last three games and which lost its first game of the season to Hawaii two weeks ago, will now have to prove that it is of the caliber of current highly ranked Boise State. The latter has continued demolishing teams, some of whom have been pesky for Nevada, and are now ranking at No. 3 and No. 2 in some of the national polls.

Great quarterbacks

This writer has been privileged to see some great quarterbacks over the past decades and they include Nevada’s first string All-American Stan Heath, the legendary Joe Montana and the present day Colin Kaepernick. Last weekend I also picked up on the stunning performance of the Auburn quarterback, who led his undefeated team to a win over perennially tough LSU. He caught my attention because Auburn was my Alma Mater prior to Nevada. It was in the summer of 1944 when we 17 year olds in the Army Air Corps reserve were waiting to be called up to active duty the moment we turned 18. We were entered into sort of a holding pattern by signing on for the Army Specialized Training Reserve Program. It entailed being outfitted with Army gear and clothing and being sent to a university to study “cram” courses and to be indoctrinated in such Army specialties as close order drill. Classes ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week.

We were assigned to Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API), which was located in the then tiny town of Auburn, Ala.

It was an attractive campus and its best course of study was in engineering, so that is what we took. Our P.E. and athletic programs were administered by the API coaching staff, which delighted in having us run a countless 440 races around the track, under the blazing and humid skies of the Alabama summer, clad in our Army boots, undershorts and jockstraps.

All of our military classes were at the direction of hardened WWII combat veterans who could see little hope that this scrawny bunch of teenagers could carry on in their tradition.

All in all, it proved to be more trying than the actual basic training that we would endure the following summer as legitimate servicemen.

Even in those days, the fierce football competition between API and the University of Alabama was in full sway, much like the one that exists between Nevada and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in the Silver State.

Some years ago, the title API was dropped and Auburn University was born. The school, and the surrounding area, have grown tremendously and this year Auburn is undefeated, highly ranked and boasting a Heisman Trophy candidate in its 6 foot 5 inch tall, 250 pound quarterback. Watching the tube last week and trying to compare the Auburn standout with our own Kaepernick, I had to compare their running styles to a gazelle for Colin and a bull elephant for the Auburn signal caller.

This year’s game between reigning national champion Alabama and Auburn should be one of the best college contests of the season.

Go Auburn!

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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Pack Stays in the Wac by Harry Spencer


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