The Bullet Points
- I’ll admit I expected the worst, and I said as much to whoever happened to be within earshot at the Wal on Tuesday night. As the Rams were driving for what I assumed would be their game-winning touchdown, I kept repeating “They’re going to lose. They always lose. This is what always happens.” With a few F-bombs peppered in for conversational seasoning, of course. But apparently, the football gods decided to throw Nevada a proverbial bone for their troubles. For at least one year, hilariously tragic disappointment decided to haunt the other team’s sideline, and Nevada escaped Tucson with a win, its streak of poor bowl performances now slightly less lopsided. “Escaped” is the key word, with the Pack defense doing everything in its power to all but hand Colorado State the game on the final drive with a defensive strategy that can best be described as “polite indifference.” James Butler continued to be too good to be true both on and off the field, Elijah Mitchell brought an end to an even longer streak of games without a kick return touchdown, and Coach Brian Polian brought home a giant glass bowl trophy. The most wonderful time of the year, indeed!
- Tuesday’s win naturally segues into a discussion of just how the 2015 football season should be graded. Many RGJ readers not unreasonably feel a “C” is appropriate, while Polian called it a “success” with obvious exceptions. I think of it in slightly different terms imagining the coach as a door-to-door salesman. Another poor bowl performance a la New Orleans would’ve all but slammed the door on his selling of the program to the Northern Nevada public: you’re selling mediocrity, and we don’t want any more of it. But a narrow win, maddening as it was, at least keeps that door open a tiny crack: we’re still pretty skeptical, but we’re still listening. All obvious Arizona Bowl jokes aside, bowl wins are not commonplace enough at Nevada that they can be taken for granted yet, so this one still counts for something. It was the bare minimum of what needed to be done in order to keep Polian’s seat heat at “Medium-high” rather than move it up to “High.” And to Polian’s credit, he seems to agree. The offense’s shortcomings have taken center stage in the coaching staff’s post-bowl reshuffling. Frustrating losses are getting harder to explain away. And liberating the currently red Fremont Cannon will remain his white whale at least through Thanksgiving weekend. Stemming the tide of declining attendance will come down to on-field performance against an already lackluster home schedule, with a modest assist from the first wave of improvements at Mackay Stadium. More than ever before, Polian will be coaching for his livelihood next season, and he’s all too aware of this fact.
- The first two games of the conference basketball season unfolded as I expected they would, with a loss at New Mexico followed by a much-needed home win over Wyoming. The way in which they unfolded, however, leaves me convinced I was a teeeeeeeny bit optimistic in predicting an 11-7 conference record. Short-lived is an understatement. For three games in a row now, the team has been out-rebounded and had multiple players foul out, to say nothing of the 25-2 run that did them in against the Lobos. A potentially crippling multi-game skid was averted only thanks to the efforts of leaders young (Cameron Oliver) and old (Marqueze Coleman). And as great as it’s been to watch Elijah Foster’s progression into a respectable forward who can be counted on each night, it also speaks to just how limited the depth on this team has become. While maybe not quite imperative, getting at least a split of their upcoming road swing at Fresno State and Air Force is looming increasingly large. Get ready for a conference season comprised mostly of silently cursing officiating crews and A.J. West.
Deschutes The Stoic 2015 Belgian-style Quad (Bend, Oregon) ~ Another fancy-pants beer with a fancy-pants release date. What else would I use a nice gift of Christmas cash on? The term “quadrupel” has a slightly more vague origin than the Trappist “dubbel” or “tripel,” and at 10% or higher is the strongest of the three by alcohol content. After peeling off its similarly fancy-pants wax seal (with some difficulty), The Stoic poured apricot-orange with a barely perceptible head. It was blended from batches aged in pinot noir and rye whiskey barrels — I told you it was fancy — and smelled of some of those barrels along with pomegranate, caramel and sugar. The taste is of lightly bitter fruits, with notes of whiskey and molasses, a light burn from the high alcohol, and a sugary sweetness that persists just long enough. Anything this strong that goes down this easily is usually welcome in my fridge. Mine appeared to have been an older bottle, so the additional aging no doubt mellowed some of its harsher edges. Personal preference is the only real difference between a fresh bottle and one that’s had some time to age. In any case, it’s good enough to warrant tastes of both. I give it four and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
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