Murray's Mailbag: Will Colin Kaepernick ever return to Nevada's campus?

Colin Kaepernick
Colin Kaepernick runs away from the Jets defense during a game in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Steve Martarano)

Nobody reads the intro, so let's just get to the questions for this week's Monday Twitter Mailbag. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

(Note: If you're not seeing the tweets, it's probably because you're not using Google Chrome. Use Google Chrome.)

The last time I talked to Colin Kaepernick was in the San Francisco 49ers' locker room at Candlestick Park after a preseason game in 2011 (that was the second NFL game he ever played in). The last time the local media spoke to Kaepernick was at the Governors Dinner in Carson City in the summer of 2015, which also was the last time Chris Ault spoke to him in person (and the last time he was in Northern Nevada to anybody's knowledge). Obviously a lot has changed since 2011 and 2015, so I can't definitively tell you why his relationship with Nevada, his former Wolf Pack head coach and his former teammates has largely been severed. Ault said he texts Kaepernick once in a while but hasn't heard back in a few years. I know he's spoken with Kaepernick's parents on occasion. A couple of Kaepernick's former Wolf Pack teammates, notably Brandon Marshall, speak to him from time to time, but most of the 2010 team hasn't spoken to him in several years.

When Kaepernick first began protesting during the national anthem, Ault did not provide much encouragement, saying, in part, "You never lead by sitting down" in a statement released through me when I worked at the RGJ. He went on to say:

"I have no problem with Kap using his celebrity to champion or protest a cause for oppressed people of color. Prejudice unfortunately does still exist in our country. Although it’s a sword with two edges, it certainly deserves all the attention we can give it in order to rid all Americans of this terrible injustice. However, Kap using an NFL game as his platform to show the importance of his cause was selfish. Not standing up for an American treasure such as the national anthem is disrespectful and clearly has shortchanged the essence of his message because the attention of an uneasy America is on him, not the cause he values."

I'm sure that message got back to Kaepernick, and I'm sure he did not like being called "selfish" for his protest, which could have strained the relationship, which was strong post-college as Ault went to New Orleans to watch him former pupil play in the Super Bowl in 2013. Ault has defended Kaepernick to a degree, telling me in 2017, “To be honest with you, it’s ridiculous he’s not employed because he is good enough and he is better than half of those guys playing. I’m sick about that because it should just be a football issue.” He's always been supportive of Kaepernick's cause but not the method in which he went about protesting in favor of that cause because he thought it would hurt his career.

While Nevada has been somewhat supportive of Kaepernick over the years, it hasn't been a full 100 percent support. Plus, I'm sure Kaepernick is plenty busy with his charities and other business ventures. Kaepernick is first-year eligible for the Wolf Pack's Hall of Fame this season, and it'd be great if Nevada could get him back on campus for a Hall of Fame ceremony and a retirement of his No. 10 jersey (that might have to wait until next season depending upon whether the Wolf Pack will even hold a Hall of Fame ceremony due to COVID-19).

If Kaepernick's return to campus is going to happen, there's only one person who can grease that path. His name is Chris Ault. Even if they've had some differences, I have to think Kaepernick still respects the heck out of Ault and what he did for his career by offering him his only FBS scholarship and building an offense that made him one of the best college quarterbacks ever. Those two did a lot of great things together for Nevada, and if Kaepernick is going to return to campus, as the Wolf Pack would like, it will probably be up to Ault to make that happen. I know he considers him a son and misses him quite a bit.

I like this question, and they're similar figures. Neither were true failures as head coaches at Nevada. David Carter went 98-97 overall and 50-48 in conference with two NITs berths and one conference championship in six seasons. (Fun Fact: All of the head coaches currently at Nevada have won a combined one conference title, that coming from T.J. Bruce in 2018, so Carter accomplished more than most coaches currently with the Wolf Pack). Polian went 23-27 overall and 14-18 in conference with two bowl berths in four seasons. It was the first head-coaching job for both, and neither have gotten another head-coaching job since. They were both roughly .500 coaches. Carter was more well liked as a person, but the success of his program before and after his tenure makes his run look a little worse.

Carter's teams' averaged a KenPom score of 155 (out of 353 Division I teams). Polian's teams' averaged a Sagarin rating score of 102 (out of 130 FBS teams). So Carter's teams ranked in the 56th percentile in the nation while Polian's ranked in the 21st percentile. Carter's teams were better, on average. He also had the best teams (both of his NIT teams were better than any team Polian put on the field). He also was nicer to be around. So I think the answer is Carter, who had things going in the right direction before the jump to the Mountain West. That jump nuked his program as it was much more difficult than the WAC in that first season. But I think Polian has a much better chance of getting another head-coaching job than Carter.

No. I would credit Chris Ault more than anybody. The Mountain West and WAC were locked in a battle to the death in during the realignment of the early 2010s. But you must remember Nevada and Fresno State agreed to join the Mountain West on Aug, 18, 2010, so that was before the historic 2010 season in which Nevada finished 11th in the nation. While Colin Kaepernick and the Wolf Pack had fine seasons in 2008 and 2009 that made Nevada more attractive to the MW, they weren't historic in any way (the Wolf Pack was 15-11). I don't agree that without Kaepernick Nevada would be Idaho State. No Ault and Nevada would probably be Idaho State, or even worse. It'd be Pacific, Long Beach State or Cal Fullerton, all schools that folded in football after sharing the Big West with Nevada in the 1990s. Ault's leadership got Nevada from Division II to Division I independent to the Big Sky to the Big West to the WAC and to the MW, both as a football coach (where he won 10 championships) and as an athletic director (where he made possible the facilities Nevada currently has).

UNLV actually pushed hard for Nevada to get into the MW in 2010, so credit the Rebels for a solid there. But it was also the combination of football being a regular bowl program (under Ault), basketball being a postseason regular, Nevada fitting the geographical need and the MW trying to damage the WAC that allowed the Wolf Pack access into the conference as part of the second wave of WAC schools to move to the MW (Boise State was the first wave; Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii (football only) was the second wave; and San Jose State and Utah State were the third wave).

That's a school-by-school decision. Generally speaking, I don't trust college athletics financial numbers. Here's a story explaining how scholarship costs are overinflated; here's another one; and here's another one with a subtitle the reads "a simple accounting trick allows major college sports programs to fake poverty. Killing this practice would allow real reform to take hold."

As such, we don't have a good feel for how much college athletics are getting subsidized by state money, university money and student fees. I don't agree with student fees increasing to subsidize college athletics given how expensive it already is to attend college (it's ridiculous). But if a university wants to spend more of its money on athletics as a pseudo branding or marketing campaign, I'm fine with that. Ultimately, that's what college athletics are. They increase your university's brand, and when you win, they can increase overall donations to the school and the quality of applicant wanting to attend your university (Gonzaga and Boise State are good examples of that). So there are hidden pluses to spending on college athletics.

The larger issue being I don't think the NCAA should exist. America is the only country I know that ties amateur sports to a college education. It's weird, and it's been a way to enrich coaches and administration (most white males) at the expenses of student-athletes (mostly black males in terms of revenue sports). The NCAA should be abolished. But if we're going to continue with the status quo, which we will, I can see universities continuing to subsidize athletics to improve the overall image and brand of its school. In terms of Nevada, the Wolf Pack gets very little state, university and student money compared to other MW schools, so there's minimal subsidizing going on with the Wolf Pack, and I don't see that changing as the state comes out of its post-pandemic recession.

Definitely the "Juice Is Loose" version on June 17, 1994. That was a worldwide event. The world didn't care about the Boise State Broncos winning the Fiesta Bowl, and it cared only a moderately when the Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl. I remember being at my brother's Little League game at Lampe Park when OJ and AC Cowlings went on their joyride/ Everybody in the stands was listening to it on the radio. The car chase interrupted coverage of the NBA Finals and drew 95 million viewers in the United States (to be fair, the Broncos' first Super Bowl drew an estimated 133 million viewers). I recall my eighth-grade class being stopped so we could watch the verdict being read. That's unimaginable now. And good news for Ford Bronco fans: The model has been revived.

The thing that sticks out is it's still relevant, and America is still struggling with the same issues 60 years after the book was published in 1960. Things have clearly improved, as the OJ case shows since he was an African-American man who got away with murdering two white people. But our society hasn't learned completely from its ills and hasn't reformed enough. You'd think 60 years later we wouldn't have to tell people "Black Lives Matter" and systemic racism (outlined eloquently here) would be a thing of the past. It's not. In addition to the book's societal theme, the love of Atticus Finch for his children and the spirit of Scout will stay with me. The last sentence of chapter 29 gave me chills. Looking at human morality through the eyes of children was a wonderful decision. And it was funny read. Great book.

The book literally has Atticus saying: “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it — whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash." Also, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view ... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Lessons we still live with today.

It was. I was never assigned it in school. It goes into my list of top-10 books along with The Master and the Margarita, Confederacy of Dunces, The Road, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler, Scoop, Where Men Win Glory, The Underground Railroad, The Great Gatsby and Cold Comfort Farm.

How would we describe Atticus Finch? Brave, honorable, wise, compassionate, thoughtful, respectful, even-handed, never in need of rethinking his position. I'd go with diving coach Jian Li You for Nevada's female version of Atticus Finch and cross country coach Kirk Elias for the male version.

1. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

2. Over the Top

3. Cop Land

4. Antz

5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Honorable mentions to the Rocky, Rambo and Creed series. We also were having a family discussion on whether we'd rather have Sylvester Stallone's career or Arnold Schwarzenegger's career. It's a tough call. Stallone has Rocky and Rambo. Schwarzenegger has Terminator and Predator. Arnold had more cross-over appeal with Jingle All the Way, Kindergarten Cop, Twins and Junior. But he also starred in the worst movie ever, Batman & Robin (RIP Joel Schumacher). Stallone has been nominated for three Oscars and is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Arnold was the Governor of California, is a four-time Mr. Universe winner and won a Golden Globe. Ultimately, I'll go with Stallone because he was named after a 1945 cartoon cat.

Definitely Atticus Finch. I don't have the muscles to hang off cliffs, helicopters and ropes thousands of feet in the air like Gabe Walker. I would have hung onto that woman in the opening scene of Cliffhanger, though. Damn Gabe Walker for letting her go.

That's really a national trend. There have been double the amount of verbal commitments to this point in the season compared to last year in FBS football. I'm not sure why that's the case. Perhaps teams are getting in contact with more players as you remove travel from the equation. Perhaps players are accepting offers earlier for fear scholarships might dry up. But I would have figured commitments would have slowed down due to the lack of recruiting visits. Wrong. It's been the exact opposite. Nevada has 11 known commitments (bios on each player here). At this point last season, Nevada had seven commitments, although four eventually de-committed, and that will be the next hurdle for schools. Once players can take official visits this fall and actually see the city and campus they'll be living in, will we see a lot of de-commitments? Overall, I think the virtual atmosphere has: (1) increased the number of commitments at Nevada and (2) decreased the cost of recruiting. Win-win.

I'm not surprised a highly infectious disease is spreading as people gather in groups in close quarter environments. That's what infectious diseases do. That's predictable. The key is whether schools, especially in football, will be able to limit the spread of the positive cases that are going to sprout up. Many schools across the country have failed at that. Given the amount of money on the line, every sport, including college football, is going to try and have a 2020 season. But I'd be surprised if we don't see at least one college football player or NFL player die of COVID-19 during the season.

If the entire season is cancelled, I assume they'd just roll the 2020 conference schedule over to 2021, which means Nevada would still get Fresno State and San Diego State at home and would still miss Boise State and Air Force in the cross-division matchup. And then the non-conference games would simply be scrapped or rescheduled for a later year, which would cost Nevada a $1.5 million payday at Arkansas. The Nevada-Arkansas contract reads the game can be legally breached for "an act of God, fire, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, war, invasion, hostilities, terrorism, civil unrest, rebellion, insurrection, court order, confiscation by order of the government, military or public authority or prohibitory or government authorities." The contract does not mention "pandemic." That will have to be put in for future contracts. I'm not even sure what canceling the game while citing an "act of God" would refer to. "God told us not to play the game, so we're canceling it and don't owe you $1.5 million?"

Yep. I actually sketched out an All-Wolf Pack The Basketball Tournament team in March, and here is that team. I would nominate Deonte Burton for the general manager because it was his tweet to Nick Fazekas about potentially forming a team that gave me the idea to create a Wolf Pack TBT. I had Ramon Sessions as the head coach. Nevada could field a team strong enough to win the $2 million winner-take-all prize (although it's only $1 million this year because of the pandemic).

The issue is those seasons start in October and there's no guarantee we'll be in a place where games can be safely played then, especially if there is a second COVID-19 wave in the fall that overlaps with flu season. I think it's smart for the NBA and NHL, if those leagues are concerned with the money, to squeeze in a playoff season now because that's where the most television revenue comes from. The NBA is the league best equipped to get through the pandemic and finish a 2019-20 season because of its ability to play in a bubble. But generally speaking, if money wasn't a factor, we should probably cancel all sports until spring 2021 or when a vaccine is created, although that's not a perfect solution either considering no vaccine has ever been approved for use against previous forms of coronavirus. It's a tricky disease.

That's hard to do, but I guess the ones I remember the most off the top of my head are:

* A feature on Christy Wise, who lost a leg in a paddleboarding accident but returned to a military cockpit

* A feature on the Martin twins' youth, which several national publications have since tried to replicate

* A feature on Nevada softball's Aaliyah Gibson, who overcame all types of hell during her youth

* A feature on Nevada running back Don Jackson, who was told he'd be dead or in jail by age 17

* A feature on Nevada defensive end Lenny Jones, who was accused of a crime he didn't commit

* A feature on local Marine Trey Humphrey, who nearly died after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan

* A feature on Nevada cross country runner Erika Root during her battle with cancer.

* A feature on Nevada basketball's D.J. Fenner and his tumultuous childhood

I could go on and on, but those ones are the most memorable given what each person had to overcome.

The only reason I am a sports writer is because my brother was majoring in journalism at UNR when I started at the school, so I picked the same major (he's two years older than me). The first semester I was on campus, my brother interviewed then-RGJ sports editor Dan Hinxman for a story for his class, and Dan told him about the crappy hours and crappy pay. So he switched to elementary education (also crappy pay) and has been a third-grade teacher at Florence Drake Elementary for about 15 years.

I continued on the path of journalism, got an internship at the RGJ when I was 19 and stuck there for 16 years. I got lucky. I was about to quit when our Nevada basketball writer Steve Sneddon took a buyout, which opened a writing job for me (I had been working 3 p.m.-midnight shifts designing the newspaper for five years prior to that). I also was about to quit the RGJ when Nevada Sports Net offered me a job (I was promised two raises by the RGJ in the previous five years that were never fulfilled even though I turned down other jobs to get those raises; in both cases, the executive editor left the paper and his/her replacement didn't fulfill the promise). So I've been lucky to stick around in this profession as long as I have given I only major in it on a whim.

If I had to do it over, I would have either been a doctor (if money was the main factor) or high school principal (if community impact was the main factor, although they make bank, too). I don't think people should do the same job in the same profession for their entire lives. I think it'd be far more fulfilling to do a lot of different things in life. It'd be cool to go back to school every decade to learn a new trait and career, but our society isn't set up that way. I wasn't really prepared to pick a career path when I graduated high school at 17. Douglas High didn't really have a career counselor. There's a lot of pressure to get that decision right. I'm glad I fell into my profession, but I don't think I'll be doing this job for the rest of my life.

And truly the best job anybody can have is being a parent. If your paid profession pulls you away from being the best parent you can be (and that was the case for me when I was at the RGJ with all the travel required), you have to make a change.

1. All of Nevada softball seniors are expected to return, per the last time we talked to the staff. I imagine most of the Nevada baseball seniors also will return, although All-MW outfielder Jaylon McLaughlin is transferring. Most of the seniors should be back in the spring sports.

2. Baseball and football roster maximums have been expanded, and most of the other sports don't have maximum roster sizes. It will certainly be more difficult to get younger players as much playing time as they might have expected, but more depth is usually a good thing.

I have very little information here. All I know is he's a Barstool Sports creation and is streamed on Twitch. I've never clicked on a Barstool Sports story and have never watched somebody play video games on Twitch, so I am worthless then it comes to this question (as I am most questions).

I'm not a political writer, so I don't have a firm grasp on this question, which is covered more in-depth here. So I'll plead the fifth. I don't think it would have a major impact on Nevada athletics either way. Yes, the Wolf Pack and Rebels have to give annual financial reports to the Board of Regents, but the Regents are no longer as involved in coaching contracts since 2016.

I have not found any proof that John Mackay, who has a statue on UNR's campus and the Wolf Pack's football stadium named after him, is a racist.

There's also a petition to rename Columbus, Ohio "Flavortown" in honor of Guy Fieri. Who knew he was so well liked? He's done a lot of great things with his philanthropy, although his reputation during his time at the American Century Championship was not so positive. I do like his Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. That's a great show. But, overall, I'm not a huge Fieri fan.

I'd vote to just go back to the "Nevada Sagebrushers," which was the school's first nickname. I'll have more on this later in the week.

Hell no that doesn't work. Why not just put the White Claws in the freezing cold water right in front of them? Lake Tahoe is pretty chilly. It would keep the White Claws at a drinkable temperature. Stupid miss there by the Gen Zs. Now time for me crack open a White Claw and end this fine Monday afternoon of work. 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 finish. But people seem to like it, so he does it anyway. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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