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Category: Reno

Fletcher Jones Mercedes helps USC recruit Penn State player

Wisconsin = Class
USC = Not in the same class.

By Royce Feour
This is about the recruitment by USC of Penn State running back Silas Redd. (Redd rushed for 1,241 yards last season as a sophomore.)
USC coaches were after Redd before penalties were even announced by the NCAA against Penn State. USC coaches scoured the Penn State football roster for someone to help the Trojans and found Redd. USC  coach Lane Kiffin said that on ESPN radio.
My first thought were  the vultures were circling. Yes, yes, it is all legal. Penn State players are allowed to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year. USC and any other school can take players from Penn State.
However, Wisconsin coach Bret Bielerna said he had no intentions to recruit Penn State players. Viva la difference!
A couple of points are interesting. No. 1, USC itself is under a scholarship penalty from the NCAA for  violations and is limited to 75 scholarships for the season. No problem — USC said one player might be academically ineligible. If not, USC said it would take away a scholarship from a previous walk-on. That’s nice. The poor walk-on works his tail off, earns a scholarship and now Kiffin might take it away. Real classy.
USC went through Redd’s high school coach to see if Redd would be interested and made contact with Redd’s father that way.
Kiffin was at the Pac-12 dinner when he said, “I picked up the phone, in true SC fashion and called one of our great donors Ted Jones at Fletcher Jones Mercedes … .”
Kiffin said. “So he sent his big ole Mercedes jet which was in Vegas to pick us up in L.A. We got done with the Pac-12 meeting. We flew to White Plains, N.Y. It was myself, my dad, our running backs coach, our o-line coach.”
Nice of Ted Jones to do that. I would have liked to have seen Jones take the expense of sending the jet to New York and back and donate it to the Humane Society or to feed the homeless. But Jones can spend his money the way he wants and making the Mighty Men of Troy even mightier is more important, I guess. Which is nobler for a wealthy and prominent supporter of USC? And yes, I am sure Mr. Jones is a generous donor to charities. Heck, he should run for office. Maybe mayor. Or governor.
USC was already one of the favorites to win the national championship without Redd. Now the Trojans are even better. The rich get richer.
I also wonder if Fletcher Jones makes its corporate jet available to the UNLV and the University of Nevada  athletic programs. The Fletcher Jones family of dealerships includes businesses in the Las Vegas area and Jones West Ford in Reno.
Actually, the Fletcher Jones empire extends to Northern California, Hawaii and Illinois as well. No wonder Lane Kiffin calls Ted Jones.

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Some day, UNLV will beat Nevada in football, but it wasn’t this season

Some day UNLV will beat Nevada in football, but it wasn’t this year at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Nevada rolled over UNLV, 44-26, for its sixth straight victory Saturday night in the state rivalry for the Fremont Cannon.

Not that the result wasn’t expected. The Wolf Pack from Reno was a consensus 21-point favorite. It really wasn’t a matter of if, but how much.

One statistic from the game tells volumes. Nevada had 374 yards rushing and the Rebels had 80. Vai Taua had 188 yards and four touchdowns, including a 72-yard TD run, in 19 carries.

Taua missed last year’s game with a dislocated elbow. Just think what the Wolf Pack could have done with him. They won 63-28 without him as then-freshman Mike Ball from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas scored five touchdowns.

Ball missed Saturday’s game because of a team suspension. It is a good thing Taua and Ball didn’t play together in either game or who knows what would have happened.

Of course, Nevada had senior quarterback Coin Kaepernick who was 13 of 17 passing for 124 yards and one touchdown and added 97 yards rushing and one touchdown in nine carries.

And that was a comparative off night for Kaepernick. The previous two years against UNLV he had about a gazzilion yards in combined total offense. Actually, it was “only” 797 yards and six touchdowns in those two games.

The Wolf Pack now lead the series against the Rebels, 21-15. Nevada coach Chris Ault is 13-7 in those games.

But back to UNLV beating Nevada some day. Ault, who has done a terrific job at Reno with a smaller budget than UNLV, isn’t going to coach forever.

At the start of the season, I figured Ault might only coach one or two more years.
The Wolf Pack could be undefeated going into the Boise State game Nov. 26 in Reno.

This is Nevada’s best chance to beat Boise State in about 10 years. If the Wolf Pack could upset the Broncos, Ault may want to go out on top. And yes, I realize beating Boise is a big if.

Also, When UNLV hired Bobby Hauck away from Montana, I thought he was a good hire. With Ault possibly retiring in a year or two and Kaepernick being a senior, I thought Hauck had a chance of ending Nevada’s total domination of the Rebels down the line. At least in some years.

Meanwhile, I never thought I would see the day when Nevada was ranked higher than USC, Texas and Penn State, three perennial elite national programs.

But the Wolf Pack team is ranked ahead of USC, Texas and Penn State this week. Nevada is No. 21 in the AP media poll and No. 23 in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

USC’s football budget is so much higher than Nevada’s, the Pack’s budget would be mere tip money to Pete Carroll or Lane Kiffin.

Also, Nevada is No. 18 in the Sagarin ratings.


JAYMIE MORRIS ATTENDANCE — Family and friends of Jaymie Morris gave her a surprise 50th birthday party at a tailgate Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Jaymie is the daughter of the late Bill “Wildcat” Morris and Vivienne Morris.

Since the first Rebel football season in 1968 when Jaymie was 8 years old, she has missed only ONE home UNLV football game with the exception of her college years at Nevada and some time spent in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Even when she was in Flagstaff, she commuted to Las Vegas frequently.

But more than making up for any home games missed while out of town was the fact that Wildcat and Vivienne (my cousin) took their kids to ALL away games as well for much of the 1970s.

Jaymie went with the family to Japan for a Rebel football game in 1978 and to China for a three-week trip with the Rebel basketball team in 1979.

Overall, I  know of hardly any others who have attended more Rebel football games in history than Jaymie Morris. Yes, there is Jack Cason. But who else?

First Nevada-UNLV football game: Was field goal good?

Talk about the “Twilight Zone” of college football.

I covered the first UNLV-Nevada football game in 1969 for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The inaugural game was at Mackay Stadium in Reno. I wish I could have seen the game.

OK, I exaggerate. I wish I could have seen the deciding play of the game. Actually, there was about a minute remaining in the game when Nevada’s John Barnes kicked a 33-yard field goal which lifted the Wolf Pack to a 30-28 victory.
The trouble was by the time Barnes attempted the field goal it was so dark (and Mackay Stadium didn’t have lights) that nobody in the press box could see well enough to know if the kick was good.

The stadium was enveloped in darkness and not only nobody in the press box could see if it was good or not, nobody I talked to who was in the stands could see if it was good, either.

But the officials called it good — surprise, surprise considering where the game was played. I couldn’t swear it wasn’t good, but I could say that it was, either.

Bill Daniel is a guy who had a unique perspective on the game.

Daniel, a product of Reno High School, was coaching at UNLV at the time. He had joined Bill Ireland’s first staff for the Rebels in 1968 as the line coach.

Daniel had played four years at Nevada and had been an assistant coach for the Wolf Pack for three years before coming to UNLV.

“It was getting darker and darker,” Daniel said this week. “The only way I saw (Nevada) beating us was to kick a field goal. We felt they couldn’t score (a touchdown). We tried to defend field position, but they got field position for a field goal try. When the ball was kicked, we on the field had no idea whether it was good or bad.”

Daniel has either coached in or broadcast nearly all of the Nevada-UNLV games. After coaching for four years at UNLV, he received his doctorate at Utah. He returned to UNLV where he was selected as the chairman of the Physical Education Department.

He then returned to Reno where he was on coach Chris Ault’s first staff in 1976. He coached the Wolf Pack for three more years, then was a broadcaster for 25 years.
Dick Trachok was the Nevada athletic director for that first game in 1969 after having coached the Wolf Pack for 10 years.

Trachok said, “Everybody said it was so dark, nobody knew if the ball went over.”
But Trachok amended that to say, Oh, yeah, everybody from the Wolf Pack saw the ball go over. UNLV kidded about the ball not going over.”

Uh, Dick, the UNLV folks weren’t kidding about the kick not being good (even if they couldn’t actually tell either way). In fact, some of them were rather outspoken about it. That first game was quite controversial.
Daniel said, “That was something that just happened. We just bit our lips. Ireland didn’t complain.”
Trachok said, “I thought it was nice the old school started out with a win.”

Trachok, retired and now the AD emeritus at Nevada, was quite gracious about Saturday’s game between the Wolf Pack and UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium at 7 p.m.

Despite Nevada being a consensus 21-point favorite, Trachok said, “UNLV has some pluses for this game. It’s not going to be a pushover. We’ll be lucky if we can get out of there with a win.”

Diplomacy thy name is Trachok.

A controversial play came in the fourth quarter when the Rebel defensive back Rich Logan, from Rancho High School, intercepted a pass.

I’ll let fellow UNLV defensive back Richard Pfeifer take it from there, “Rich picked off the pass. I was real close to him. I was peeling off to block for him and he was running right down the sideline and it was someone on the Reno side who was not in uniform who tripped him. He stuck his foot out and tripped Rich. I went berserk. I was really upset. I was yelling at the guy and I was yelling at the refs. The refs didn’t see it. At least that’s what they said.”

Despite that, Pfeifer is one of the most honest guys you will find.

Guess what he said?

“The kick was good.”

Pfeifer is now retired from Sprint and living in Las Vegas.
UNLV defensive standout Tommy Rowland said, “The field goal, we didn’t think they made it, but who knows? It was dark. It looked like it went off to the side.”

Rowland is in his 38th year teaching in the Clark County School District. He did retire once (officially) but came back immediately because of a shortage of teachers in Special Ed. And I thought I worked a long time (37 years) at the R-J.

Rowland was “Defensive Lineman of the Year” for the Rebels all four years he played. He lasted the entire preseason season for the Minnesota Vikings in 1974. But he left the team on his own to return to Las Vegas and accept a teaching position.

Barnes, who kicked the winning field goal (if it was indeed good), went on to become the head football coach at Los Alamitos High School, a long-time power in Southern California prep football.

New UNLV coach Bobby Hauck has undoubtedly talked with Barnes many times trying to recruit his players.
Barnes develops top quarterbacks and receivers every year at Los Alamitos.

Nevada has won five straight games and leads the series, 20-15. Before the Wolf Pack’s current five-game domination, the Rebels had won five in a row.

The Nevada-UNLV rivalry has one of the best trophies in college football — the “Fremont Cannon.”

The cannon was conceived by Ireland. I still remember Ireland saying he was going to do it and he did. Ireland went to the Kennecott Copper Corp., which donated the $10,000 to build the Fremont Cannon.

“Bill was a history buff, so he was intrigued by the cannon,” said Jeanne Ireland, who was the lady behind Bill Ireland while he coached at Fernley (six-man football), South Tahoe, Nevada and UNLV.

Ireland was a native of tiny McGill in White Pine County, where Kennecott was based in Nevada. While he was in college, Ireland worked summers at Kennecott. So Kennecott was a natural for Ireland.

“(White Pine County) was his home. He was very proud of it,” Jeanne Ireland said.

You can go to my website at at any time and read previous columns (blogs), such as they are.

You can comment on this blog by going to the website and hitting the “comments” link at the top right of the blog.

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$75 too much for end zone ticket to Wisconsin game

I wish I had started this blog a couple of weeks earlier because something that really bothered me was UNLV having the audacity to charge $75 for ALL single-game tickets to the season opener against Wisconsin. That $75 per ticket includes all seats in the end zone. That is more than a little strong.

Remember, this is UNLV football which has had only three winning seasons since 1990. This isn’t USC, Ohio State, Florida or Alabama.

The highly respected Dr. Wayne Pearson was one of the people along with Bill Ireland, the first Rebel football coach, and uber booster Bill “Wildcat” Morris, who did the most to start the Rebel football program. Pearson, the associate athletic director at the time, was the one who started the athletic scholarship program as well as being a force behind the “Grand 100 Club,” which provided most of the financing to begin the football program. He was also a key factor leading to the construction of Las Vegas Stadium, now named Sam Boyd Stadium. What did Pearson call UNLV’s decision to charge $75 for all seats. “Outrageous,” Pearson said. A perfect description.

OK, OK, before I go any further let me look at it from the UNLV perspective. Yes, it was Wisconsin, ranked No. 12 at the time. That is an outstanding, highly-ranked Big Ten team to come to Las Vegas. No question about it. Also, Wisconsin has a great band, for which I would pay extra for to go to the game. But guess what? The Wisconsin band didn’t come this year. Which was a bummer because I couldn’t go to their concerts during the week such as I have in years past at the Fremont Street Experience and in the parking lot behind the Las Vegas Hilton.

Also, almost all athletics departments are having budget problems and the Wisconsin game gave UNLV an opportunity to rake in some needed cash. Given that, I could hold still for a $75 ticket between the 20-yard-lines. Even for the whole sidelines seating to give UNLV the benefit of the doubt. The price of $75 would be a costly ticket even for the sidelines, but it does go to dear old UNLV. But it is the end zone seats that the $75 tickets that I think is totally excessive. Say a family of four wanted to go to the Rebel football opener, that’s $300 for tickets alone before parking and concessions. I say that’s WAY too steep for the average family. How about $45 (or less) for an end zone ticket even for Wisconsin? Give the Rebel faithful a break.

The announced crowd for the Wisconsin game by UNLV was 31,307. When Wisconsin comes to town it’s generally sellout or close. This year it was about 5,500 short of a sellout. A good crowd in general, but not for Wisconsin. Because of the recession, Wisconsin didn’t bring as many fans as usual. But on top of the recession locally, UNLV compounded the problem by charging an arm and a leg for tickets.

Yes, Nevada raised ticket prices for its game against California on Friday night. Reserved seats were $60, which is plenty to pay for the Wolf Pack. But Nevada did have the sense to also have general admission tickets for a more reasonable $30.

I can identify with UNLV. During my 37 years with the Las Vegas Review-Journal,  I covered the first Rebel spring football practice and the first Rebel football game in 1968 at old Cashman Field, which is in the same location as the present Cashman Field. I thought it was historic that I was in the lockerroom before that first game against St. Mary’s to hear the first Rebel pregame pep talk in history, which was emotionally and ably given by Ireland. For what it’s worth, I also covered the first Rebel baseball practice (Hartke Park in North Las Vegas) and the first Rebel baseball game in history.

I would like to hear comments from readers on this question. Please visit my new website at  Do you think that $75 was too much for ALL tickets, including end zone seats,  to the UNLV-Wisconsin game? Or do you think the price was justified? Either way, please comment. I will keep track of the results and let you know. I will also print some comments both ways. Thank you. Please, just keep the comments clean.

I would like to thank Peter Poggione of Squeez Marketing for building my website. Poggione is outstanding in the fields of marketing and public relations.