Category: Nevada


To say I was lucky during my years as a sports writer, Assistant Sports Editor and Sports Editor for the Nevada Sagebrush would be an understatement. I got to cover Nevada’s 13-1 season, see future NFL players Colin Kaepernick, Dontay Moch, Rishard Matthews and more play. And I got to see, talk to and cover Chris Ault. Ault stepped down from the head coach position today. The timing makes sense. He is getting up there in age. He helped lead Nevada into the Mountain West Conference. He’s pioneered an offense that is being used in both college and professional football. He’s already part of the college football hall of fame. What more does he have to do?

Ault’s impact to Wolf Pack sports speaks for itself. A career record of 233-109-1. Nevada roots from when he played quarterback in the 60s to serving as Athletics Director and football coach. He helped pioneer the college football overtime system. He has more wins than the entire history of UNLV football. the Wolf Pack’s had just one losing conference record since 1982. He helped bring Nevada from Division II to Division I and moving up conferences. He helped promote school spirit, helped to hype up the Nevada-UNLV football game and frankly represented the university well. Oh and his salary compared to the rest of college football is far below what other coaches of his caliber are getting paid.

But perhaps more than that he was a great human being. There were no huge scandals while he was head coach. No cover ups, no major discipline scandals, no big NCAA violations, none of that. But he also took time to get to know people. There have been lots and lots of sports writers for the Sagebrush through the years. And yet, he knew my name. Also greeted me warmly whether or not I had written something positive about him. One of my favorite memories from Ault came during a practice. Waiting for the team to arrive, Ault came up behind me put his arm around my neck and said “I hope you’re staying out of trouble”. Contrast that with Charlie Weiss and the way he treats student-journalists.

Now Ault was not a perfect coach. The clock-management was suspect at times. And in recent years, he struggled to find a defensive staff to help bring the Wolf Pack from the bottom of the barrel, especially when it came to pass defense. And yet, 2010 showed just what Ault’s done for this program. Taking down Boise State. No. 11 in the nation. Bringing awareness to the football program and the university.

The hole Ault left will never be truly filled. He was and always will be Nevada football. He could have left, but stayed loyal to the university, something you just don’t see these days. He was a class act. He was smart, innovative, fiery, kind, intense and everything a good football coach should be. Nevada will never have another coach like Ault. And like all legends, his name will fade into nothing more than stories we can tell our children. But I consider myself lucky to have been around Ault. To have covered him and to have been there for arguably his most memorable season. And for that, I say thank you.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Yep, it’s that weekend. Nevada takes on that school down south for the Fremont Cannon.

First, let me start with a few tidbits:

There’s going to be a lot of trash talk between THE University of Nevada and that school down south. Here’s some food for thought.

1. Chris Ault: 231 career wins
2. Total wins in UNLV PROGRAM history: 224

3. Nevada wins, it’s bowl eligible.
4. UNLV must win five of its last seven to get to six wins.

5. Nevada named a tier 1 university…again.
6. UNLV…not so much.

*By the way that’s academics, not athletics.

7. The last time the cannon wasn’t blue: George Bush and John Kerry were running for President. I was a freshman in high school.

8. Chris Ault took Nevada from Div. II to FCS.

9. Bobby Hauck is winless against Div. II teams since becoming coach at UNLV.

10. UNLV hasn’t had a coach with a winning overall or conference record since Harvey Hyde, who coached from 1982-85.

Now, on to the actual game. Bobby Hauck has UNLV playing better in recent years. That’s not surprising since the Rebels have been one of the worst teams in college football, no matter how you look at it. Statistically, records, margin of losses, you name it, UNLV was at or near the bottom. This year they’ve been competitive, though when they faced some tougher opponents in Louisiana Tech and Utah State, they couldn’t keep up. QB Nick Sherry must eliminate the mistakes. That’s for sure. UNLV’s defense has played pretty well, but La. Tech and USU showed good offense can wear them down and with the Wolf Pack’s attack, led by Cody Fajardo, Stefphon Jefferson and Brandon Wimberly, this should be no different. After the Wyoming scare, Chris Ault will have this team ready. Defensively, expect Nevada to key in on Tim Cornett. Sherry has a completion percentage of 55.4 percent and 10 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. I’d take my chances with Sherry trying to beat the Pack.

Prediction: It might be close early, but like previous years, Nevada pulls away. Wolf Pack wins 40-17.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

For the University of Nevada, the time has come. Good bye WAC, hello MWC. Nevada accepted an invitation August 19, 2010. Now, this school year, the Wolf Pack will join Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming. Hawai’i is also a football-only member of the Mountain West, while San Jose State and Utah State will be joining next year.

Is this a good move? Undeniably, yes. The WAC was going nowhere and fast. The WAC is nothing without Boise State, Nevada, Fresno state and Hawaii. Once it lost San Jose State and Utah State, well, that put the nail in the coffin. Athletics Director Cary Groth will see the volleyball team and Chris Ault, Cody Fajardo and the football team take the field first. First, the positives. Nevada will get to play Nevada Southern and have it mean something more than bragging rights.

Look at all the great rivalries. Why are they great? Because there’s something on the line. Now, there will be conference implications in addition to just bragging rights. The better both programs get, the more is at stake, the better the rivalry becomes. For one year, at least, Nevada will get a chance to play both UNLV and Boise State in football, a glimpse of what might have been for the Wolf Pack football program.

The negatives? Will the competition really be much better than the WAC? Sure, in basketball there’s no question. SDSU, for this season at least, will provide a stiff test. New Mexico is generally strong, so is UNLV. Once Utah State joins the conference next year, the basketball portion will be fine. It’s football that will be lacking, a shame because that’s pretty much the whole reason Nevada moved. Who is going to be the powerhouse after Boise leaves? Nevada? Fresno? Hawaii? Air Force? Exactly.

All the same, this might not be the home run we all dreamt about when it looked as if Utah, BYU, TCU, Boise State and Nevada could all be in the same conference. But, it’s still better than the alternative. Hello MWC. Time to show the conference that the Strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Wolf Pack fans should be excited. Nevada head coach Chris Ault had this to tell the RGJ about quarterback Cody Fajardo:

“Being in the system now and being under the gun last year, he’s a veteran,” Ault said. “He has a good feel for what we did last year offensively. We’ve added some wrinkles to it. It’s a good opportunity for him. He threw the ball very well in spring. In terms of throwing, he’s probably the best quarterback that I’ve had in terms of the fundamental mechanics of throwing the football. And he can run. He ran well during the spring, and I thought got better in all phases. He’s obviously is the key to what we’re trying to do next year. There’s no doubt about it.”

Clearly Fajardo is going to make the Wolf Pack’s offense go. The question is how much progress can Fajardo make? Remember, it took Colin Kaepernick a couple years to really be the weapon that got him drafted in the second round. Clearly though, Ault is high on Fajardo. And he has the potential to really shine. Let’s hope he’s up to the task.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The Wolf Pack is in the Elite Eight of the NIT. Now, it faces its third Pac-12 opponent of the year: Stanford. Will the Wolf Pack keep rolling or will the Cardinal stand tall?

This game could very well come down to who wins the battle of the guards. Deonte Burton is going to have to play well tonight, as does Malik Story. Stanford guards Chasson Randle and Aaron Bright have combined for 25.4 points per game and 194 assists. Inside is where the Wolf Pack’s going to have to press things. Hopefully, Olek Czyz’s monster night last game wasn’t a one time deal. And Dario Hunt should have pretty free rain to dominate the boards and score inside.

Stanford is a solid defensive team, however, holding teams to just more than 63 points per game. If this becomes a free throw shooting contest, Nevada fans should worry. We got a glimpse of it last game. The good news is the Cardinal shoots only 66 percent from the strip themselves, but I just can’t see anyone outside of Burton hitting two free throws down the stretch if they need them.

Prediction: It’ll be a back and forth game. But, Nevada wins 71-62.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

In news that might be of interest to Reno residents, or fans of the Reno National Championship Air Races, a film about the races is headed to Imax Theaters. The first Imax 3D film will be narrated by actor Paul Walker.

“We are truly honored and delighted to have Paul Walker lend his storytelling talents to this action-packed 3D film, which will hit IMAX theatres in the US beginning this April,” said Francois Mantello, Chairman and CEO of 3D Entertainment Distribution in a press release. “His passion for racing and high-adrenaline sports makes him a perfect fit for this celebration of aviation.”

Walker, who has appeared in movies like “Takers” and the “Fast and Furious” franchise, said he has always had an interest in speed.

“I have always been fascinated by the sheer power, precision and skills of these tremendously talented pilots who race just 50 feet off the ground at twice the speed of a Nascar race,” Walker said. “I was further drawn to the film by its unique historical view of this legendary sport and for the educational insight into the science of flying that it provides.”

From the pits to the roaring sky, Air Racers 3D explores the highly competitive world of air racing through the eyes of rookie pilot Steve Hinton as he attempts to fly his P-51 Mustang fighter plane to victory in the most highly-anticipated and unpredictable race class. Audiences will discover today’s elite pilots in their World War II-era aircraft as they fight for position, wingtip to wingtip, and skim 50 feet (15 m) above the ground around an oval course at 500 mph (805 km/h). The film also features rare archival footage and performances by many of the world’s top aerobatic pilots, including the Royal Canadian Air Forces Snowbirds.

Filming took place during the 2009 and 2010 Reno Air Races.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.