The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 3

For your reading consideration - The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 3

Well…at least the whiteout was successful. But first, a retraction. Sort of.

The Bullet Points

  • It’s more like an acknowledgment of omission. You might recall last week when I ripped into the Wolf Pack fans who wanted the season opener against UC Davis moved to Thursday night. While that was undoubtedly true for many people, I completely overlooked the most obvious reason why it was moved to that day and time: because Coach Polian wanted it. With Arizona opening their season on the same night and Polian learning his lesson from the Washington State game last year, it makes total sense to request the extra practice time a Thursday-to-Saturday game week would entail. So yeah, it was a pretty big omission on my part, and kudos to poster newpackcity for pointing it out to me and not being all jerky about it.

  • And now, the hard part. Dear defensive player (he’ll remain nameless for the sake of sparing him further embarrassment): you know we all love you here, but in this case you were wrong. Way, WAY wrong. Not only were the Wildcats able to run on Nevada’s front seven, but they frequently ran straight through the secondary and into the end zone without so much as a hand on their jerseys. Pre-game confidence is all well and good IF you can back it up on the field, but there was nothing in how Nevada’s defense handled the Arizona ground attack that suggested they were up to the task. 301 rushing yards — two thirds of which came from Nick Wilson — on 43 carries for a nice, round 7 yards per jaunt. Supplemented by another stellar performance from the as-good-as-advertised Anu Solomon. And all rounded out by a Nevada offense who got out of their own way just long enough to make it a one score game at the half, but whose slim hopes of keeping the second half close all but evaporated with each successive three-and-out or four-and-out series. At two weeks in, Nevada’s record is exactly what most of us figured it would be. But that didn’t make what we saw on Saturday night any easier to watch, and the prognosis for Texas A&M looks depressingly similar, if not worse.

  • In more breaking news, as I was getting ready to submit this column on Tuesday evening, athletic director Doug Knuth went and made sure I'd have to update my thoughts on Coach Polian's temper (because this clearly all about me and my deadlines). I've already seen many posters weigh in on this action. Early concerns are that it could hurt recruiting, that it's the beginning of a rift in the athletic department between Knuth and Polian, and that the coach's actions were only in response to objectively terrible officiating. Those concerns are not without merit. But when examined within the bigger picture of Polian's entire time at Nevada, I think this makes more sense and becomes less worrisome. Knuth made this decision several days after the most recent game, meaning he likely put very extensive and careful thought in to it. A head coach drawing two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in one game is rare, and Knuth's response was equally rare. Herein, I believe, is the crux of the matter: Polian's being reprimanded was not in response to two incidents in one game, but to a series of incidents spanning more than two whole seasons. The Arizona game was just the tipping point, and its quality of officiating (or lack thereof) is a wholly separate issue. Polian had already promised to correct this behavior before, and whatever progress he had made up to yesterday was insufficient for his boss. Furthermore, whether this action causes a rift between the two men is mostly within Polian's control. Same for whether this will affect the program's recruiting. If his behavior continues to be an issue, and his most recent promise to do better once again goes unfulfilled, the rift will become a reality. If he makes this a legitimate turning point in his maturation as a head coach, both men will put it behind them and gladly share in each other's success. In any case, it's an issue I'm very interested to hear the additional thoughts of others on.

  • If there was any “silver lining” — the quotation marks being key there — to Saturday’s setback, it was that the rest of the Mountain West exhibited similar levels of suckitude in their respective games. A big, fat oh-fer in ten non-conference games, to be exact. Woof. Even Boise State — still as smarmy and insufferable as ever — couldn’t stop another Hail Joseph from BYU. Elsewhere, San Diego State came out hot, and then promptly fell silent at Cal. Fresno State — “the feral cat of college football” — yielded 73 to Ole Miss. Colorado State came closest to breaking the streak, falling in overtime to Minnesota. But far and away the worst of the bunch was Wyoming’s loss to Eastern Michigan at home, the Eagles’ first non-conference road win since 1988. Yes, really (there’s an easy "Big Lebowski" reference about hating the Eagles that could go here, but I have to keep this space family-friendly). So congratulations to Air Force are in order for their conference-opening win over San Jose State: the Zoomies are king of the dung heap this week.

  • I’m neither a religious nor spiritual man, but looking at pictures of Texas A&M’s gargantuan newly renovated Kyle Field — college football’s $485 MILLION answer to Jerry World — has finally taught me the Biblical meaning of the word “covet.” Basically, it means “I want really nice, expensive things for Nevada!! Why can’t we ever have really nice, expensive things?!” Upon seeing the attendance and on-field performance against Arizona, I remembered why (the righteous indignation was nothing if not short-lived). At first, I was jealous. Then, I was angry. Then depressed. Then jealous again. Then angry at myself for being jealous. Then depressed again. Then hungry. When Texas A&M asks its fans for money, they respond “How much do you need?” When Nevada asks its fans for money, they’re dismayed by the very idea that successful football programs need money to stay that way, and tell the athletic department to go pound sand. Not only is this palace of brick, glass and steel a stark reminder of what Nevada will never have for itself, but it’s also a testament to the even higher cost of standing still. While Pack fans will never show up 40,000 strong to a midnight pep rally (though, to give us some credit, we came pretty close at the Kraft Bowl), or dedicate a multi-day outing to welcome incoming freshmen to the school, it’s still within our power to better ourselves where we currently are. Buy season tickets. Bring friends to the games. Tailgate. Greet visiting fans. Travel to an away game or bowl game. Patronize businesses that support the Pack. Donate a little extra when you can. All of these things can help improve our lot in the short-term and change the local culture of apathy little by little. Don’t covet what the Texas A&M’s of the world have, because it’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, let me do that for you in these columns after I return from College Station next week.

The Beer

Spoetzl Shiner Ruby Redbird (Shiner, Texas) ~ Admittedly, this wasn’t my first choice for this week’s beer review. I had originally planned to get some of Shiner’s Oktoberfest ale, but the brewery’s distributor in northern Nevada totally dropped the ball (er, bottle) in getting it out to area stores on time. Oktoberfest is also a pretty hard beer to screw up taste-wise, and is one of my favorite styles. It’s this mild disappointment that perhaps unfairly taints my experience with Ruby Redbird, often only found in Shiner variety packs in our neck of the woods. The amber color is accompanied by a fizzy head out of the bottle with no lacing, and the smell of ginger is apparent right away. The tastes of grapefruit and ginger come next, along with some pale malt and a little bit of lemon and lime. It finishes crisp and dry and, at only 4% ABV, lends itself well to frequent sipping. It’s basically a grapefruit-y, low-alcohol ginger ale, so if you’re like me and enjoy grapefruit beers, you’ll probably like this one. Otherwise, it may depend on whether your man card will get revoked by the company you’re drinking one with. Given the choice, I’d have one again, so I give it three and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise) can be sent to:
Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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