Dear Wolf Pack Fans:
It's been a busy start to 2015 with so many of our Nevada teams in action. We're thrilled with the performance of our swimming and diving team at the Mountain West Championships (link) and it's been a great start to the season by our baseball team, which is ranked No. 28 in the nation and sits in first place in the Mountain West after taking two of the three from UNLV over the weekend (link). And our softball program is hosting the Wolf Pack Classic at Hixson Park this weekend with conference play around the corner.
As many of you know, we saw the final dates of our 2015 football schedule come together as the Mountain West announced the dates of the conference games last week. That announcement has led to some questions from a number of you and I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some of the most frequent questions here.
1. Why isn't the UNLV game being played on Nevada Day weekend or as the last game of the season?
The last two seasons, it was nice that our in-state rivalry game was able to be played at a special time - on Nevada Day weekend in 2013 and as the final regular season game last year when we reclaimed the cannon in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way this year. We don't have control over when our conference games are played as the Mountain West creates the conference schedule. Though we can and do ask, the Mountain West is unable to protect certain games being played at certain times as its focus is on creating the best schedule for all 12 schools. So this year, the Nevada-UNLV game is on Oct. 3, which should make for good weather and a great atmosphere at Mackay Stadium as we take on our friends from the southern part of the state.
2. Why aren't we playing Boise State this year?
Boise State isn't on our schedule this year and we won't play the Broncos next year either. With 12 teams, the Mountain West is split into two six-team divisions - the Mountain Division and the West Division. Each school in the conference plays eight conference games each season. Each year, each school plays the five other teams in its division and three teams from the other division. The following year, each school plays those same eight teams, but alternates home and way. Following that two-year cycle, the three opponents from the other division change for the next two-year cycle.
In 2013 and 2014, we played all five teams from our West Division and we played Boise State, Colorado State and Air Force from the Mountain Division. Now we enter a new two-year cycle in which our Mountain Division opponents will be Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah State (in addition to playing our five West Division opponents). Nevada and Boise State will resume its rivalry again in 2017.
However, there's always a chance we could play Boise State before then. The winner of each division plays in the Mountain West Championship Game at the end of the season, so the possibility is there for us meet the Broncos before 2017.
3. Why is the season opener against UC Davis on Thursday, Sept. 3?
The first week of the season falls over Labor Day weekend each year. Because we are playing an opponent from the FCS level, we have control what day and time we can play that game. Feedback from our fans and our students over the years has told us that most of you would rather come out on Thursday or Friday night and watch our opener at Mackay Stadium and then be able to enjoy a three-day weekend. If you were here in 2010, we opened that special season on a Thursday night against an FCS team as well. While this is not a new concept, it has become a popular trend recently and I suspect you'll see a dozen or more games being played on that Thursday night this year. We picked Thursday so as to not conflict with local high school football on Friday. And with nationally ranked Arizona coming to Mackay Stadium the following week, I'm sure Coach Polian doesn't mind having the extra days of rest for the team!
4. When will we know what times the games will start?
Great question, but there's not a clear answer just yet. In the coming weeks, we'll learn how many of our games have been selected for national television broadcasts from the Mountain West's television partners, CBS Sports, ESPN and ROOT Sports. At that point, some of the game times will be decided based on the television networks decisions and others may be subject to a later decision by TV networks.
If any of our home games are not selected for a national television broadcast, we'll be able to decide the best time to play those games and we'll get the word out as soon as we can. We hope to have a clearer picture of this at some point in April, if not before. Generally speaking, if it's our decision, we prefer to play games later in the day or evening during the early, warmer part of the season and play earlier in the day towards the end of the season.
5. When is Homecoming?
We went up and down the schedule and in looking at all of the great events our community has to offer in the spring and fall and in working with key folks in our campus community, the Oct. 23-24 weekend has been selected for Homecoming. So get ready for the annual March From the Arch on Friday, Oct. 23rd and we'll see you in Mackay on the 24th as we take on Hawai`i that day!
So why not this weekend or that weekend? We're looking at the Arizona game on Sept. 12 as our annual Hall of Fame weekend. With so much at stake against UNLV on Oct. 3 with the Battle for the Fremont Cannon, there was a concern that Homecoming festivities might not get proper attention, or vice versa. A community scheduling conflict on the Oct. 10th weekend (vs. New Mexico) would not have allowed for the March From the Arch, which is a great new tradition here. And we felt the game against San Jose State on Nov. 14 was too late in the year. So the Oct. 24th game against Hawai`i made the most sense.
6. What do the future schedules look like?
We get this one a lot. While future schedules are always subject to change we keep a listing of all of our scheduled non-conference games and known conference opponents on our website (link).
I hope that answers some questions about the football schedule. I'm excited to see so much interest already building for the football season six months away! And, in case you missed the news -- we're adding a new restroom facility in time for this season.
In the meantime, we'll cheer on our basketball teams at the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas this week and get ready for an exciting spring season. We hope to see you out at Peccole Park and Hixson Park with our baseball and softball teams in the coming months while our golf, tennis and track and field teams gear up for the finals stretches of their seasons. And spring football starts later this month with the Silver and Blue Spring Game on April 25 at Mackay. See you there!
Go Wolf Pack!
Director of Athletics