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Know your enemy: Nevada edition

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"Forgive your enemies, but first get even." —Lester Cole

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Marion Motley, 1941
Marion Motley, 1941

KYE UNR

Boise State doesn't get much time to lick their wounds after last week's (hopefully) uncharacteristic loss at Air Force as they enter the unfriendly confines of Reno's Mackay Stadium to take on the Wolf Pack tonight. Nevada looks like a far different team this year than last and Boise State...well, you never know what you're going to get. Intrigue! This game has been analyzed to death, but cleats hit turf at 8:30 tonight and we'll know what the Broncos have in their tank. In the meantime, let's get to know our enemy a bit, shall we?

Ten things Bronco fans probably didn't know about the Nevada Wolf Pack or their big little city in the desert

10) Reno, Nevada was founded round about 1860 by an intrepid swindler gentleman named William Fuller. Fuller decided to take advantage of the Nevada gold rush by constructing a log bridge over the Truckee river and then charging people to cross it. Soon, Fuller built a hotel on the other side of the bridge, and presumably charged people to look at it. The area became widely known as Fuller's Crossing, for reasons still unknown to historians. Soon, a fellow named Myron Lake decided he wanted in on the sweet "charging people not to drown" racket and bought the bridge and hotel from Fuller. The requisite name change to "Lake's Crossing" followed and by the time the Central Pacific railroad came winding past 8 years later, a city was finally incorporated. The new town was named "Reno" in honor of General Jesse Reno, a Union officer that was killed in the Battle of South Mountain during the Civil War. Those of you waiting for the obligatory Chris Ault joke will be disappointed—he didn't arrive in Reno until at least the turn of the century.

9) The University of Nevada was established in Elko, Nevada in 1874 by the Nevada State Constitution but moved to Reno in 1885 as Reno had much looser slots. The university's first structure, Morrill Hall, was completed in 1887 and named for Sen. Justin Morrill—author of the 1862 Land-Grant College Act and guy that was once sued by the estate of Charles Dickens for stealing the likeness of many of his notable characters.

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I have a sudden intense craving for chopped mutton.

8) Nevada played their first season of football (or as it used to be called "bloodbath") in 1896 and went 1-2 against a tough slate of teams that don't exist any more. Wadsworth AC (presumably, a large air conditioner named "Wadsworth") was the squad's first ever opponent, and first ever win...a 30-0 romp. The team quickly fell back to earth, however, with a 70-0 loss to Simon Belmont Academy and a 40-0 defeat at the hands of Cal's JV squad. I know...this would've been a perfect place to put in a "Chris Ault is old joke"...but the head coach of Nevada's inaugural football team was actually Frank L. Taylor. Besides, I find nothing about Ault's age or stature amusing and neither should you.

7) On second thought...
Some don't know that before Chris Ault was the head coach at Nevada he waited tables at the last supper he was starting quarterback for the Wolf Pack. Ault led the Wolf Pack offense from 1965-1967...and how was he? Meh. He guided the Pack to a 16-11-1 record during his time under center...and being only 4'11", I use the term "under center" quite literally.

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The photographer is standing in a very deep pothole.

6) UNR football's first All-American (1923) was a diminutive scat-back named James "Rabbit" Bradshaw. After Bradshaw's playing career was over, he went on to coach at Fresno State, where he holds the second highest win-percentage (75%) among all coaches after coaching the Bulldogs for 8 seasons. Bradshaw claimed what drove him from day one was two small children that repeatedly taunted and teased him with a bowl of fruity Trix™ cereal.

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"Rabbit" with close personal friend, Jimmy Stewart.

5) The famous "Reno Arch" was erected on Virginia Street in 1926 to promote the Transcontinental Highways Exposition of 1927. After the exposition, the Reno City Council decided to keep the arch as a permanent downtown gateway, and Mayor E.E. Roberts (no relation) asked the citizens of Reno to suggest a slogan for the arch. In 1929, after a $100 prize was offered, G.A. Burns (George?) of Sacramento was declared the winner with "Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World". G.A.'s backup slogan was "Abandon hope, all ye that enter".

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Well, you're here...you've probably made a big little mistake.

4) The Wolf Pack's mascot is a anthropomorphic wolf by the name of Alphie. Alphie has a younger brother named Wolfie Jr., who was apparently named after Alphie's uncle Wolfie (I'm not making this up, folks). Keen observers will tell you that Wolfie Jr. resembles his uncle a little "too" closely, if you know what I mean.

Alphie is the central character in a novel children's book called The Wild Wolf Pack Mystery where he scours Reno for legalized brothels the game day basketball. Frankly, I found the book to be predictable...Alphie finds the ball in the end and returns it to the arena rather than being picked up by Fish and Game officers and relocated to Canada.

3) In 1919 coach R.O. Courtright led his team to back-to-back 100+ point wins as he downed Pacific 132-0 and then blanked Mare Island Navy 102-0 three days later. As usual, a little more research tends to diminish the wins a tad as I later found out that "Pacific" was just a jug of ocean water and "Mare Island Navy" was a discount purveyor of jeans and t-shirts in the GAP family of stores.

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"I will use this 3-wood to crush your dreams."

2) Nevada plays their home football games at Mackay Stadium (capacity: 29,993). The stadium is named after early school benefactor Clarence Mackay who would've been entirely uninteresting if he wasn't such an eccentric lad. Clarence Hungerford Mackay (Hungerford?) was born in 1874 to John William Mackay, an Irish silver miner turned telegraph magnate, and Clarence eventually inherited the lion's share of the elder Mackays $500 million estate upon his 1902 death. Mackay became quite good at philanthropy, and focused much of his gifting to the University of Nevada (hence the naming rights), but he also spent a little money in his day—funding an expansive collection of Medieval suits of armor. Mackay's first wife ran away with his doctor and the couple divorced in 1914, but Mackay—citing his religious convictions, refused to remarry his new squeeze (a soprano in the Metropolitan Opera) for 16 years because his first wife was still alive. Once he and his long-suffering flame finally did tie the knot in 1930, he gave her this ridiculous necklace which probably cost at least as much as several suits of armor. Oh, and Mackay disinherited his daughter Ellin because she married composer Irving Berlin (not a fan of "White Christmas" or Jewish people...my guess is the latter).

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Mackay got game.

1) Each year, UNR and UNLV battle on the gridiron for the Fremont Cannon. The cannon goes to the victor of the contest for a year and it's undercarriage is painted in the winning school's colors. The cannon is a replica of the howitzer cannon that explorer John Fremont and his party hauled west and abandoned (a loose cannon, perhaps) in the Sierra Nevada in 1844. Fremont was also the first Republican nominee for President of the United States...he didn't win, of course—maybe the nation was looking for a leader that didn't just leave cannons lying around.