Northern Nevada asked a collective ‘what?’ when news broke Wednesday night that Jay Norvell would be Nevada’s next football coach.
Eastern Washington’s Beau Baldwin was the presumptive favorite. He has nearly a decade of head coaching experience and has grown EWU into one of the most prominent programs in the FCS.
By choosing Norvell, Nevada Athletic Director Doug Knuth made a statement. He doesn’t just want to win football games. We wants to win Mountain West conference championships.
Norvell has more than three decades of coaching experience at some of the biggest programs in college football and coached in the NFL. He’s been on the sideline in the national championship game and the Super Bowl. He’s been around a lot of football. And he’s been a part of countless wins.
Especially encouraging for Pack fans was the presence of Chris Ault at the introductory press conference on Friday afternoon at the Great Basin Street Club inside Mackay Stadium. Ault and Nevada grew apart the last four years while Brian Polian was coaching, but Ault and Norvell have a bond that predates the hiring process.
To move forward, a program must recognize its successful past – not hide from it.
Nevada’s next coach said everything he was supposed to at Friday’s press conference (other than pronouncing Nevada, Ne-vah-duh). He said he wants to develop his program into the “flagship program” of the Mountain West.
Surely, be believes that goal is achievable. He wouldn’t set the bar at a spot he knows he can’t reach.
Will he still believe that when he wants a particular assistant coach but the extremely limited budget doesn’t have room? Will he still believe that when a targeted recruit chooses another Mountain West program because it has an indoor facility?
As with any new hire, that remains to be seen. This is Norvell’s first head coaching opportunity. Even with 31 years of coaching under his belt, he doesn’t know exactly how his tenure will unfold. He will do his share of learning.
His experience, knowledge, integrity, connections and passion separated him in the interview process. Now, he must prove that Knuth made the right decision.
Considering Knuth’s major-sport hires at Nevada, Pack fans have a lot to be excited about.
Is this the year for Spanish Springs wrestling?
In last week’s wrestling preview story, I wrote that Spanish Springs will make a run at Green Valley for this year’s state title.
The Cougars have racked up league titles and regional titles, but the wrestling banner in the school’s gym remains bare under ‘state champs.’ It’s rare for coaches to blatantly discuss state titles before the season begins. Coach Joe Imelli had no problem talking about the elusive state championship two weeks ago.
He didn’t have problem talking about it after a head-turning 57-18 dual victory at McQueen on Wednesday, either. The Cougs barely eked out a home dual victory over the Lancers last year.
This Spanish Springs team is experienced. It’s talented. And after coming close last year, finishing second behind Green Valley, it’s mad.
There is much to be determined still this season. State titles are not determined in December. But it is already obvious this is a different Spanish Springs team.
Gaels in complete control of spot in NIAA
I chatted with Bart Thompson, Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Executive Director, on Wednesday regarding Bishop Gorman’s place in the NIAA.
The reason I asked? The Gaels’ stirred the pot again a week ago with an 84-8 win over Liberty in the state title game. It was Gorman’s eighth straight state championship and none have been close.
Our fifteen-minute conversation can be easily summarized: Gorman is not going anywhere.
The NIAA does not have the legal power to simply remove the Gaels from the Association because they are too good. Thompson added he doesn’t want to “punish excellence.”
To split with a school, the NIAA needs “just cause.” It doesn’t have that, which means on of two things. Either one, Gorman is innocent of the numerous accusations that have been slung its way. Or two, it’s been successful hiding said rumored violations.
Countless investigations into the Vegas private schools have come up empty. There’s little reason to think the Gaels’ will suddenly get busted.
Many in the state won’t want to hear it, but the only other way Gorman leaves the NIAA, is if it walks out on its own. That’s not likely to happen either, per Thompson’s talks with the school.
This is a complex issue that doesn’t have an easy solution, unfortunately for everyone in the state not named Bishop Gorman.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.