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Rick is Wright

UNM football, combat sports and whatever else is worth blogging about on a given day

Fight for Cannon Causes a Ruckus in Nevada

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Regardless of the outcome Saturday in Las Vegas, Nev., the Fremont Cannon will stay in the Mountain West Conference family.

If you were struggling to find something nice to say about conference realignment, there you go.

When Nevada plays UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium, with possession of the Fremont Cannon at stake, the intrastate rivals will be playing as members of the same conference for the first time since 1995.

Nevada is a Mountain West school as of this season. The Rebels are a charter member of the 14-year-old conference.

Does a common league affiliation intensify the rivalry?

What really would do that, says UNLV coach Bobby Hauck, is a Rebels victory.

“Obviously, rivalry games are a big deal,” Hauck said on this week’s Mountain West coaches’ teleconference. “It’s the big game of the year in both programs.”

But, Hauck added: “For it to be a rivalry, both teams have to win it once in a while. It’s been a long time since we won it.”

That hasn’t happened since 2004.

Nevada coach Chris Ault is largely responsible for the cannon’s current residence in Reno.

Ault has coached the Wolf Pack for 27 1/2 years in three stints. He’s 14-7 overall against UNLV; the game was not contested from 1980-82, in 1984, ’86 and ’88.

He began his third tour of duty in 2004 with a 48-13 loss to the Rebels in Vegas. He and the Wolf Pack haven’t lost since.

Ault — a Nevada graduate who spent three years (1973-75) as a UNLV assistant coach, places a high value on the Fremont Cannon — as should the inventor of the pistol offense.

Other rival schools play for boots, jugs, bells, cups and buckets.

“It’s a special trophy,” Ault said. “It’s the largest rival trophy in America.

“It stands for, that year, you were the better team. … In our community and our university, it’s very special.”

Until 1999, the school in possession of the cannon fired it after its team scored a touchdown. But in 2000, after UNLV reclaimed the cannon with a 38-7 victory, Rebels supporters attempted to pick it up and dropped it — damaging and silencing it forever

Yet, within the borders of Nevada, it still speaks volumes.

The cannon isn’t expected to change hands this year. Nevada is 5-1 overall, 2-0 in Mountain West play. The Rebels are 1-0 in league play, having upset Air Force, but 1-5 overall.

LONG WAY FROM HOME: Everybody wants to visit paradise, but not everyone wants to play college football there.

Recruiting to the University of Hawaii, first-year coach Norm Chow says, is far from easy.

“We’re 2,500 miles away from our nearest opponent,” Chow said on Tuesday’s teleconference. “The University of Hawaii has relied on young guys that, maybe, deserve a second chance, if you will, or are looking for a second chance.”

That’s why the Warriors’ roster includes 16 junior college transfers and 11 transfers from four-year schools.

Sean Schroeder, Hawaii’s starting quarterback, has a college degree from Duke but never got to play for the Blue Devils. He’s a junior in eligibility at Hawaii.

But Schroeder’s top two receivers, Jeremiah Ostrowski and Trevor Davis, are both Hawaii high school products.

“That’s the way we have to recruit, in my mind,” Chow said. “Junior colleges, (transfers from four-year schools) and keep the local players at home.”

The Warriors (1-4, 0-2) host New Mexico (3-3, 0-1) on Saturday.

THE MEDIA DAY JINX: In July, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun chose to bring placekicker Parker Herrington to Las Vegas for Mountain West Media Day. Only one other kicker, Utah’s Louie Sakoda, was ever so, uh, honored.

Last season, Herrington made good on 15-of-18 field-goal attempts en route to first-team All-Mountain West honors. So far this year, he’s 1-of-6, including misses from 27 and 51 yards during the Falcons’ 28-21 overtime loss to Navy last Saturday.

Calhoun said he’s confident Herrington will rally, adding that his kicker might be too hard on himself.

“This happens once in a while with Academy kids,” Calhoun said. “You can talk yourself into being such a perfectionist that you get in the way of being pretty good.”

Air Force (2-3, 0-1) plays at Wyoming (1-4, 0-1) on Saturday.
— This article appeared on page D4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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