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Murray's Mailbag: Will Alabama linebacker Brandon Kaho transfer to Nevada?

Brandon Kaho
Reno High alum Brandon Kaho has entered the transfer portal after three seasons at Alabama. (Alabama athletics)

The NHL came, it saw and it (did not) conquer Lake Tahoe as the sun (which is hot!) melted the NHL's ice, causing major issues with the league's two games at Edgewood Tahoe over the weekend. While we got some great photos of the event, I don't think you'll see the NHL return to Tahoe after this year's event If it does, let's shoot for a 4 p.m. or later puck drops because, you know, the sun has a tendency to melt ice in a place like Tahoe. This week's Monday Mailbag starts with the NHL in Nevada before turning to whether Alabama transfer Brandon Kaho will also soon end up at Nevada. Let's get to your questions.

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Hot enough to melt ice even! Who would have guessed it? I don't blame the NHL for trying something outside of the box. Bringing these games to Lake Tahoe was a great idea, although it reminded me a teenager who drove five hours to a remote location just so he/she could get a cool Instagram picture. That's what holding these games at Edgewood Tahoe was for the NHL. Great marketing and cool photos. Now, they could have planned for the sun quite a bit better so Saturday's game didn't last 11 hours with NBC Sports Network ending up broadcasting the contests, which probably shaved 3 million to 4 million viewers off the viewership. But I wouldn't blame the league for the idea. The execution simply could have been better, although the execution of Gritty's Twitter account during his trip to Tahoe was flawless.

Brandon "Ale" Kaho, formerly of Reno High, did indeed put his name in the NCAA transfer portal after three seasons with Alabama, which were largely spent as a special teams player. The 6-foot-1, 235-pounder had 33 tackles in 40 games with the Crimson Tide. He was an elite special teams player, but you don't get drafted being an elite special teams player. You need to get on the field more regularly at your primary position, which for Kaho is linebacker. He'll have two seasons of eligibility remaining but will have to sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules unless: (a) he gets a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately; (b) the NCAA approves the one-time transfer rule before next September; or (c) he graduated from Alabama in three years. He did get immediate eligibility at Alabama after transferring from Washington, so maybe those strings can be pulled again.

So where's he going? I'd love to tell, but nobody knows at this stage. I do think it's fair to say he'll end up on the West Coast, so you're looking at the Pac-12, the Mountain West or BYU, which could be an option as that was the first school he was committed to before signing with Washington (and eventually landing at Alabama). While Nevada has already awarded all 25 of its scholarship for the 2021 class (plus two blueshirts) and had Kaho's brother, Vai, decommit from the school to sign with San Diego State, I do believe Nevada will be in the mix. There are some issues to sort out, and I'm not sure being back home would be the best thing for Kaho honestly, he's a supreme talent that would make the Wolf Pack better.

Remember, Kaho was a five-star recruit via 247Sports.com. He's the only Northern Nevada football player to get that rating from 247Sports, formerly Scout.com. He was the No. 21 recruit in the nation, including the No. 1 linebacker, in the 2018 class. And for that reason, he will have his pick of schools as a transfer. Kaho was high on USC before committing to Washington, so watch out for the Trojans. I'd also put UCLA, Utah and Oregon in the mix, all three of those being among his finalists coming out of high school. I'd also include San Diego State, where his brother, Vai, will be a redshirt freshman in 2021. The Aztecs have a great history of developing all-conference linebackers.

So throw those seven in a bag and add Boise State (because they're Boise State), and I think you have the top contenders. One thing Nevada affords that Pac-12 schools don't is guaranteed immediate playing time. Kaho is not sitting on the bench if he transfers to Nevada. If he goes to a USC or Oregon, he's still competing with four- and five-star players for reps at linebacker. That, combined with Reno being home, is an advantage for Nevada. I'll put 20 percent odds on Kaho wearing silver and blue at his next stop.

I addressed Kaho's odds of landing at Nevada above. As for the second part of your question, I don't think the quality of the team is a huge factor. I mean, the guy is coming from Alabama and just won a national championship. He played in the College Football Playoff two out of three seasons. He did his share of winning. I imagine his next landing spot is much more about which team he believes will give him the best chance to showcase his individual skills for a shot at the NFL. Now, it's helpful Nevada has other pro prospects on its roster like Carson Strong and Romeo Doubs. That at least ensures scouts' eyes will be at Wolf Pack games. But I don't think pure win-loss potential is much of a carrot in Nevada's favor.

The rumors are correct as I spoke with Nevada assistant coach Eric Scott today about his decision to leave Nevada for San Jose State where he'll pick up a coordinator title. Coach Scott expressed eternal gratefulness toward Coach Norvell for hiring him in 2017. Scott was one of three remaining original assistants from Norvell's first staff along with offensive coordinator Matt Mumme and tight ends coach Timmy Chang. With all due respect to Nevada's coordinators, I don't think Nevada had a more important coach on its staff than Scott, who, as you mentioned, has recruited some of the team's best players, including WR Romeo Doubs, WR Elijah Cooks, DL Dom Peterson, OL Aaron Frost and CB Berdale Robins. After getting the Nevada job, Norvell stressed the ability to recruit Los Angeles, and Scott was the man who helped execute that the best. While a lot of coaches are just recruiters, Scott is a great technical coach, too. His receivers have been the top position at Nevada the last four seasons. It's a huge loss. Nevada has now lost its SoCal recruiting ace (Scott) and NorCal recruiting ace (Angus McClure) in back-to-back years.

As for who replaces Scott, it's an attractive job. You're inheriting two potential NFL players (Doubs and Cooks) and a solid cast of young guys for a team that's going to throw the ball a ton. I highly doubt it will be a Nevada alum who gets the gig (unless Nate Burleson wants to take a huge pay cut and become a college coach), but it'd be good from Nevada's perspective if that next coach has recruiting ties to Los Angeles.

It's either (B) or (C), although I could see (A) happening. It would behoove Nevada to get in some games after its long layoff. From a seeding perspective, playing San Jose State would be the best bet, but I also think it'd be advantageous to play Colorado State a couple of times because there are good odds Nevada will have to face the Rams at some point if it's going to win the MW Tournament. Playing them a couple of times would be beneficial for Coach Alford and his staff to set up a good game plan rather than playing them for the first time in the tournament. But if there's a chance Nevada could move into a top-three seed in the conference standings (that depends on how the Wolf Pack fares against Utah State this week), I'd opt for getting two wins against SJSU over playing Colorado State. The path would just be so much easier.

I also could see the MW going with (A). At this stage, the conference won't be able to get all 11 of its teams to the 20-game mark in conference play, so it's not going to be a completely fair regular-season title. What's the advantage of playing these postponed games other than fulfilling its television rights? All you're doing is increase COVID-19 risk by playing these games the week before the MW Tournament. Why not bring all 11 of the teams to Las Vegas next week so they can quarantine for a week prior to the tournament and make sure everybody is ready to go March 10 when the tournament begins? That's the path the MW should take if it doesn't have to make up games for its television partners.

The WCC has partnered with Ken Pomeroy to create an adjusted winning percentage to seed teams in its tournament, which shook up the standings a good amount. Now, it doesn't really matter in the WCC. Gonzaga, if it opts to play in the tournament, is going to crush everybody. In the MW, which has four similar teams atop its standings, using an adjusted winning percentage to seed teams could be a bigger deal. I do not have access to KenPom's adjusted winning percentage, but I doubt Nevada would move into the top-three seeds unless it went a combined 3-1 against Utah State and Colorado State, which it'd have to draw in a postponed series (TBD if that will be made up). That would strengthen Nevada's adjusted winning percentage quite a bit because the one series lacking would be against SJSU, one of the league's worst teams. I do believe using adjusted winning percentage would be a fair compromise, although it's far from perfect. The MW probably has a 15 percent chance of using it. One edge the MW has over the WCC is it's played way more conference games, so it's adjusted winning percentage probably would create as many drastic changes.

It's obviously not ideal as Nevada played two of its best games of the season — the first game against UNLV and second game against Boise State — in the lead up to its COVID-19 issues. But the Wolf Pack is expected to get in its two games against Utah State this week and should get in two more game next week (if the MW opts to play those postponed contests), which should be enough time to ramp back up. The additional rest won't hurt, either. Coach Alford said earlier this season some teams have come out of COVID-19 pauses looking much better than going in while others have come out way worse. It's hard to know how Nevada would react to three weeks off in the middle of the season, but at least they've been able to practice and the COVID-19 positive didn't come up the week of the Mountain West Tournament. Nevada has had time to recover without threatening its postseason availability.

Well, yeah, I think over-recruiting is here to stay. Obviously, Nevada has added two more scholarship players (via transfer) than it's allowed to have next season, so two scholarship players will get the boot. It's one of the downsides of college sports, but it happens all over the nation. In terms of the Wolf Pack players who arrived as freshmen, Zane Meeks, Tre Coleman and Daniel Foster seem to have solidified spots as each has started, but most coaches are going to take the most talented players they can get (even if they're over the scholarship limit) and cut from the back end of their roster. That's especially true when a coach gets a job in a situation Steve Alford found himself prior to last season. He had a lot of scholarships to fill with most of the 2019 recruiting class nationally having already signed. So he got the best players he could given the circumstance and has now recruited players much better than those were first available to him in April 2019. It's rough taking away a kid's college scholarship, but on the flipside, it will at least allow that player a place where he'll have a better chance at getting minutes.

As I've said every time I've been asked this question, I will defer my answer until the players actually leave the team. I don't think it's fair to publicly kick a player off the team during the middle of a season. But you can look at the first Boise State box score to see the top eight players on Nevada's roster. And then add in the four newcomers (Addison Patterson, Will Baker, Nick Davidson, Jalen Weaver). And there's 12 of the 13 players on next year's roster barring something unforeseen.

What if Nevada didn't go 7-of-27 from three in a 69-68 loss to Loyola Chicago in the 2018 NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16? That was Nevada's third-worst 3-point shooting game (25.9 percent) out of 37 contests that season. Nevada almost certainly goes to the Final Four, if not the championship game, if it hits one more three in that contest.

But from a personnel standpoint, which I believe is more accurately what you're asking about, what if Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson stayed for one more year at Nevada? The Wolf Pack's 2010-11 starting five would have been Armon Johnson, Deonte Burton, Malik Story, Luke Babbitt and Dario Hunt with Olek Czyz and Jerry Evans Jr. off the bench. That's a nice first seven. Or what if JaVale McGee came back for his junior season to play alongside Babbitt, Johnson, Hunt, Malik Cooke, Brandon Fields and Joey Shaw? Heck, what if Jalen Harris came back to this year's Wolf Pack team for his senior season? It could be NCAA Tournament caliber.

I did write a story last year on the NBA All-Stars the Wolf Pack almost signed coming out of high school if you want to take a trip down "What If? Lane." Klay Thompson was almost a Wolf Packer!

I think the 1991 UNLV team was better than the 1990 UNLV team. I believe that was the best team in college basketball history, but the Rebels lost to Duke in the Final Four that season. One-game sample sizes can be tough, and that Duke team also was great. The 1991 Rebels had five future NBA players. The only NCAA champions since then that could give UNLV a run for its money would be 1991 Duke (Grant Hill and them boys), 1996 Kentucky (Antoine Walker and them boys), 2007 Florida (Al Horford and them boys), 2012 Kentucky (Anthony Davis and them boys) and 2018 Villanova (Jay Wright and them boys).

Injuries are always a concern, but perhaps not for the reason you're citing. We talked to Bishop Manogue coach Ernie Howren last week and he said teams have the same amount of practices as it'd have for a normal season. He said the bigger concern is the lack of a traditional offseason weight lifting program, which could impact injuries as players might not be as strong as they usually are.

"Safety is a huge concern, but at the same time, (NIAA commissioner) Bart Thompson talked about it a little bit that we're using the same timeline that we've used every year," Howren said. "They're not taking any chances, they're not cutting any corners. They have the same acclimation days, the same padded practice days and the same full padded days before our first game. It's not really any different than it's been in the past. The concern is we haven't had the same five or six weeks of summer weights leading into the acclimation days. That is something we're worried about and definitely paying attention to."

No idea. The NIAA doesn't have records books for those kinds of things and they've been playing high school football since at least 1922 when the first state championships in the sport was waged (congrats to Carson for winning the Nevada state crown in 1922). Unfortunately, I was not around in 1922 to answer your question.

I don't know what "snb" stands for, but you can get every MLB game on the radio (car and phone) via SiriusXM for $5 a month.

At the minor-league baseball level, heck ya. The timing of the pandemic (March) coincided with the start of minor-league baseball, so all of the promos for the 2020 season had already been put in place. The Reno Aces had giveaways in 2020 planned to include lightsabers for Star Wars nights, gold medals on Go for Gold night, bucket hats for Margaritaville night, replica 70s jersey on 70s night, a Kevin Cron bobblehead and Archie toothbrush holders for Nickelodeon Night. Some of those, if the items were already produced, could be rolled over to 2021. I feel badly for MLB teams that had 2020 bobblehead giveaways planned for players no longer on their roster, either because of free agency or trade. Like, what if the Cleveland Baseball Team still has 30,000 Francisco Lindor bobbleheads?

The Sandlot had a future big-leaguer (Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, who went on to play for the Dodgers) and way more team chemistry than the Bad News Bears, who were always in-fighting. Talent edge and team bond edge goes to The Sandlot, who also had a pitcher who played minor-league ball (Kenny DeNunez), a power-hitting catcher (Hamilton Porter, aka The Great Hambino), a slick-fielding shortstop ("Yeah-Yeah" McClennan, who later invented bungee jumping) and a right fielder who was a playa on and off the diamond ("Squints" Palledorous, who landed Wendy Peffercorn). Sandlot kids win big.

If you're interested, somebody did a position-by-position breakdown of this matchup and gave the overall edge to the Sandlot.

You're correct. She did not compete. I did reach out to Nevada cross country coach Kirk Elias with your question and he said Tierney Wolfgram is likely out through the spring. I didn't get any more details than that, but it's an unfortunate development for the Wolf Pack distance runner who recently set the U.S. women's junior marathon record.

My top five would be: (5) Intellivision (my first system), (4) Nintendo Switch (great versatility), (3) original PlayStation (use of CDs was huge), (2) Super NES and (1) NES. The best game I've ever played, or at least the one I've spent the most time playing, is Tecmo Super Bowl (1991 version). That game is unbeatable in terms of playability. In terms of non-sports game, I'm going with Super Mario World, which I picked up again earlier in the pandemic on my Super NES. And my daughter likes The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which seems to be a consensus top-10 game of all-time despite being relatively new. I tried playing the old-school Zelda on Super NES last summer and just got frustrated. I have no idea where to go!

The top-10 Taj Mahal-like structures in Nevada.

10. The Pink House: The historic building in Genoa was actually white when it was built in 1855 by Col. John Reese. More details on its history here.

9. Lou Ruvo Center: Nevada has some oddly shaped buildings, including the Pioneer Center and Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno, but Las Vegas' Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health is the weirdest.

8. Wendover Will: The 63-foot sign in West Wendover was constructed in 1952 and was in the Guinness Book of Records as the "World's Largest Mechanical Cowboy."

7. Nevada State Capitol Building: State capitol buildings are typically awe-inspiring given their age and grandeur. Nevada's state capitol, which opened in 1871, is no different.

6. The Clown Motel: Name another state with a motel dedicated only to clowns. You can't!

5. St. Mary's in the Mountains Catholic Church: This is the beautiful Catholic church in Virginia City, first built in 1860 and rebuilt twice since (once after the wind knocked it down and again after a fire burned it down). Honorable mention to the Fourth Ward School Museum in Virginia City.

4. Ward Charcoal Ovens: These are six beehive-shaped historic charcoal ovens in Ely; I imagine they make a good pizza.

3. Fort Churchill: Located in Silver Springs, the fort was constructed from 1860-61 to provide protection for early settlers and the mail route along the Pony Express.

2. The Strip: I often wonder what people will think of Las Vegas' strip 1,000 years from now when it's falling apart and full of lore, kind of how we look at the Roman Colosseum these days.

1. Hoover Dam: Built during the Great Depression, the dam has more than 1 million visitors a year. It might be as pretty as the Taj Mahal, but it's an engineering marvel.

All right. I'm off to build my own Taj Mahal, only this one will be made solely of pizza, and I will eat it. See y'all next week!

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. He writes a weekly Monday Mailbag despite it giving him a headache and it taking several hours to write. But people seem to like it, so he does it anyway. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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