Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Memoriam

Every fan of Wolf Pack football lost a dear friend this weekend. A man who never failed to make us smile, lift our spirits or brighten our day with his sense of humor and general outlook on life. A man who quite literally had a hand in helping to bring pride and dignity back to college football in Reno. The phrases "class act" and "credit to his profession" are thrown around a lot these days, but in this case both are completely justified. I'm speaking, of course, about UNLV head football coach Mike Sanford.

Yes, loyal reader, I'm afraid it's true. In two weeks, after what will have been five seasons of completely and utterly sub-par football, our friend Mikey will be shown the door. In his place another ambitious rube will commit another five years to continuing the Rebels' long and proud tradition...of completely and utterly sub-par football. The Circle of Life is beautiful in its simplicity.

Oh Mikey! You graced the Pack with your presence once a year for five years, and provided us with many happy memories which will not soon fade from our hearts. Who could forget the 2005 game in which you so graciously returned the Fremont Cannon -- all critical pieces intact and accounted for -- to Reno? Or your tireless efforts to help bring the largest crowd in rivalry history into Sam Boyd Stadium in 2006, and quickly out again after the second half began? There was the 2007 game, and your refusal to plan for another scoring drive even as the Pack scored the winning touchdown (you were always such a kidder, Mikey!). Remember the 2008 game, and all your hard work getting your players to believe their own hype just so Nevada's players could appreciate dropping 49 points on them that much more? We do, too. And what about Mike Ball? He and his mom both swear up and down they think you're a nice guy. Honest.

And let us not forget any of the smaller, but no less poignant reminders we'll always have of why we love you. Little things like...

  • Giving Nevada students an excuse to rush the field.
  • Giving Nevada students an excuse to rush the field in Las Vegas.
  • Rocky Hinds, and how he could've walked on water if he'd only stayed healthy.
  • Kicking a field goal with less than five minutes left in the game to courageously prevent a shutout.
  • Snapping a field goal over the holder's head.
  • Seeing you claim -- with a straight face -- that you beat the "school up north" in head-to-head recruiting.
  • Frank "The Tank" Summers and his rolls of neck fat.
  • T-shirts that said "It Takes a Tank to Win a Cannon."
  • The pleasure of seeing your players bite on the same fake hand-offs over and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...
  • Taking time out of your busy schedule in order to help rewrite Nevada's record books for rushing stats.
  • Listening to Rebel fans sitting around us wonder out loud -- without a clue or a trace of humility in their voices -- "How did this quarterback end up in Reno?!"
  • Rebels2k3, and the wonder that is The Beatdown thread on Silver and Blue Sports.
  • The one time Colin held out the ball on a read option, and his running back accidentally ran behind him...and Colin still picked up five yards on the play. Seriously Mikey, it takes a special kind of defense to bite on a fake hand-off to an invisible running back!
  • Giving Nevada punter Brad Langley a breather for the entire 2009 game.
  • ...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...and over...

But as warm and fuzzy as all of those memories will continue to be, nothing -- absolutely, positively, Scout's honor, no bull, NOTHING -- can top the Iowa State Meltdown:

Yes, we're aware that Sanford wasn't told the play had already been reviewed and confirmed...but therein lies the beauty/comedy/tragedy of it all. The cluelessness, the trip and fall, the insistence upon making a scene in order to get what you want -- that, in a nutshell, is UNLV football.

And while the meltdown in Ames will never be topped, at a press conference yesterday our friend Mikey tried his hardest to do just that. And frankly, he almost succeeded:

After outlining the choice we all have between being a victim and using circumstances to help make one's self a better person...he then throws his entire athletic department under the bus for not giving him enough time and resources. That's not very nice, Mikey! We do appreciate what you said about Nevada's facilities being better than yours, though -- you're honest about one thing, at least.

So goodbye, Mike Sanford. Goodbye to your quick smile, your quicker excuses, your naive optimism and your totally unjustified confidence. Enjoy your fate as a skid mark on the underwear of college football coaching, and please let all of us here at Pistol Whipping the WAC know how "out-recruiting" the "school up north" is working out for you.

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