USFL connection gold for Warriors
BOISE, Idaho » When told who gave his Warriors their lone first-place vote in the WAC media preseason poll, Hawaii football coach June Jones chuckled and called him a homer.
It wasn't anyone from the Honolulu media. It was Jack Nixon, who is still apparently doing public relations work for Jones and Mouse Davis more than 21 years after he worked with them for the Denver Gold of the USFL.
Nixon's WAC affiliation is as the voice of the New Mexico State Aggies, but he's still a fan of Jones and Davis, who were assistant and head coach, respectively, at Denver. Nixon handled duties like scheduling travel, producing the team's program and selling tickets.
Nixon, who said he thinks he picked Hawaii to finish fourth last year, said there are reasons beyond friendship that he picked the Warriors to win the title this year.
"Colt Brennan the quarterback, I think he's head-and-shoulders above the rest in the league, and the receivers of course," Nixon said. "I realize you've got to have defense too, but I see this as an offensive team in a league that is offensive-based, and I just see those guys as really knowing their stuff."
Nixon said he's aware UH has a tough conference road schedule including games at Boise State and Fresno State.
"I saw that, and I thought, well, the common perception is that Hawaii doesn't win when they're away from home," Nixon said. "I suppose it's tougher, (but) Alabama's the first game and I see this as a golden opportunity for the league, and for Hawaii, to come in and catch lightning in a bottle. I think they'll give Alabama a great game, if they don't win. I see that as the start of the momentum to follow my theory that Hawaii's going to win the league."
Still, Nixon said picking Hawaii was not done scientifically.
"I didn't sit down and go over everyone's schedule and everyone's roster and do that stuff, I just looked at it and figured Boise, with a new coach -- not that they're not going to be good -- that there might be a little flutter there and with Fresno losing their quarterback, again, maybe a little flutter there. Not to denigrate either of those programs, just thought maybe this is the year June gets it done. Honestly, it's kind of a hunch," he said, and then, jokingly, "That and the pakalolo I had before I made the decision."
The media and coaches both picked Boise State to win the league for the fifth straight year, and both picked Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii to finish second through fourth.
They also agreed almost completely on the rest of the standings, with the media picking Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Utah State, Idaho and New Mexico State in that order. The only difference in the coaches' poll had Idaho and Utah State tied for seventh.
You really know him?
When Idaho coach Dennis Erickson
visits recruits, they aren't as impressed by his national titles or his six seasons as an NFL head coach as they are by the fact that he coached a certain player.
And it's not Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson or Jeff Garcia, all of whom Erickson had on a team at one time or another.
"You know who they know that I coached? The Rock (actor Dwayne Johnson). They know him better than Warren Sapp or Ray Lewis," Erickson said.
Play it again
Nalu Technologies, a Hawaii-based company, is providing much of the technology for the WAC's instant-replay capability.
Its "Nalu Capture" software provides a multitude of camera angles so that replay officials can quickly make decisions whether to overturn calls on the field.
Jones said the replay rules are "better than the NFL (because) every play will be reviewed."
Coaches are allowed one challenge per game, at a cost of a timeout if the play is not overturned.
"I don't see a situation where a coach will use a challenge unless he wants to give the guy a longer time to look at it," he said. "I don't think it will have an impact with coaches throwing flags out there. There's really no need for a coach to challenge."
The WAC's partnership with NaluTech and Penn Atlantic will also result in the creation of WAC.tv, a Web site dedicated to live coverage of sports events, exclusive content, video archives and conference championships. The site will launch this fall.
The site will also be used for an automated online coaches tape exchange.
Bates Award winners
Idaho track athlete Jason Giuffre
and Nevada volleyball player Christine Harms
were named yesterday the 2005-06 Stan Bates Award winners as the WAC's top scholar-athletes. The award is named for the for the former WAC commissioner. Each award comes with a $2,000 postgraduate scholarship.