by Jack Rieger
Editor Note: Thank you to everyone that sent in questions. After this week, I have just one column left before I graduate, and I truly appreciate all the people who have taken time to read our section’s work for the past year and a half. Enjoy the mailbag!
Do you consider [former football coach Brian] Polian’s tenure a total failure? I’m not sure if this past season was totally his fault. The team had a ton of injuries and unlucky circumstances. Everyone seems to hate Polian, but I don’t think he’s as bad a coach as people think.
I think Polian was probably in over his head and not ready to be a head coach. The highest position he held up until that point was special teams coordinator at Stanford and Notre Dame. Being a head coach is a different animal; you have a responsibility to answer to the media almost every day, you have to engage the community in fundraising events and you have to suck up to boosters. It’s almost like being a politician, and Polian had no interest in being a politician.
As for blaming bad luck for the season, I think that’s complete garbage. Injuries are an established part of playing football, and every team deals with them. The business of college football is about getting wins, and Polian’s team went 5-7 this year with one of the easiest schedules in the country.
I can’t understand why [Nevada Athletic Director] Doug Knuth refuses to hire a football coach with a connection to [former football coach] Chris Ault. He’s choosing to not even consider a bunch of talented options, and for what reason? Ault built Nevada football from nothing and Knuth is disrespecting his legacy by ignoring all of Ault’s assistants.
Doug Knuth hasn’t explicitly said he’s avoiding hiring anyone with a connection to Chris Ault, but his final candidates for the job (as reported by several different sources) have no connection to Ault. I don’t think this is by mistake, and I think it’s absolutely the right move. Let me explain why.
Chris Ault deserves all the credit in the world for Nevada’s football success; in fact, if it weren’t for Ault, I’m not sure there’d be a Division I program right now. The guy played quarterback for the team in the ’60s, was the head coach for 26 years, conceived a new type of offense (the pistol) and served as the school’s athletic director. He’s basically the Joe Paterno of Northern Nevada but without all of the horrific criminal activity. Nevada’s identity is tied directly to Ault, which is exactly why Knuth is right to move in another direction.
Nevada needs to start fresh with a new identity, and that begins with the head coach they choose. When your girlfriend dumps you, you don’t start dating one of her friends. The smart move is to distance yourself completely and move on in order to rediscover your identity. Chris Ault dumped Nevada in 2012 after a 50-year relationship, and now it’s time for Nevada to find a new girlfriend.
You ranked the best and worst bars in Reno a couple months ago. Has your list changed at all? The Rack has definitely become the new spot.
I was all in on The Rack about a month ago. It has all the necessary ingredients of a great college bar: cheap drinks, big dance floor and convenient location. But this weekend they started charging a cover and I’m never going back. My rule with bars is I won’t go in if they charge a cover. It’s not a club or a concert so why am I paying $10 to get in? The Rack is just getting greedy and they won’t stop charging poor college students until we stop paying them. It’s time to stand up to The Rack.
How long do you expect [basketball] coach [Eric] Musselman to coach at Nevada for? I’ve heard he loves Reno and wants to retire here.
You’re out of your mind if you think Musselman is going to retire in Reno. He’s never coached the same team for more than five years, and after this season, bigger programs are going to offer him a lot more money. If Nevada goes to the tournament this year, I think Muss will leave for a Pac-12 school after the season ends (think Washington, Stanford, California). Bigger programs offer a larger budget, more talented recruits and much better fan support. As a side note, the attendance at home basketball games thus far has been embarrassingly bad for how good this team is. Nevada might be the best team in conference and fans can’t even fill out the lower bowl of Lawlor. Fleetwood Mac sold out Lawlor in 2003, and you’re telling me we can’t get fans to show up to watch a potential tournament team?
Knuth will probably try to extend him before he can leave for another school, but I think Muss is too smart and ambitious to stay at Nevada. In other words, appreciate this season and this team while you can.
If you were an NBA general manager, who would your top five draft picks be?
1. LeBron James
2. Kevin Durant
3. Steph Curry
4. Chris Paul
5. Anthony Davis
LeBron James is a no-brainer. He guarantees your franchise a visit to the finals and he’s probably the second greatest player of all time. Durant is a shooting guard in a 7-footer’s body and the best offensive player in basketball. Curry is obviously a terrific shooter, but his skinny frame makes me think he’ll wear down quicker than guys like Westbrook or Chris Paul. After the top three, there’s a big drop off and you can pretty much pick anyone from Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, James Harden or Kawhi Leonard.
Hey Jack, I love reading the Sagebrush every week! I have a dilemma and I need your advice. I’m a sophomore student at Nevada and I’m majoring in accounting. Over the past year and a half, I realized how boring accounting is and I want to change to journalism. I really like writing and the idea of working for a publication is really exciting. What do you think I should do?
To give you a little background, I graduate on Saturday and I double majored in finance and economics. You really need to find out what you’re intellectually curious about and spend time doing that. When you work on something you’re interested in, it feels a lot less like work. Don’t be totally discouraged by your accounting classes because professors tend to do a poor job of representing the actual work you would be doing once you graduate. I’ve held two different internships for really good companies and the work is 100 times more challenging and exciting than school makes it appear.
Make sure to take a finance, economics and journalism class before you make your decision. If you switch to journalism, just know that getting a job in that field is really hard and the pay is low. In other words, make sure your love for journalism heavily outweighs your interest in business. No matter what you do you’ll have to work incredibly hard, so make sure the subject matter is worth your time.
Jack Rieger can be reached on Twitter @JackRieger or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.