Nevada Wolf Pack

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Nevada makes hiring of Jay Norvell official

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Less than two days after it was initially reported, Nevada has officially landed its man.

The football program confirmed in a press release Friday Jay Norvell has been selected as the Wolf Pack’s new head coach.  Norvell was one of three finalists for the job, the others being Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig.

Norvell replaces Brian Polian, who “mutually parted ways” with the football program last month after four seasons. This is Norvell’s first head-coaching job at any level.

“I am thrilled to hire Jay Norvell to serve as our head football coach,” athletic director Doug Knuth said in a statement. “Coach Norvell is known throughout college and NFL football as a man of great character and integrity. He is highly respected for his knowledge of the game and ability to teach his players. He has incredible relationships and an army of friends in high school, college and professional football.

“Lastly, and importantly, Coach Norvell is known for his passion and love for his players. He will set a very high standard for excellence and work tirelessly to achieve our goals academically and athletically. I am excited to watch Coach Norvell build Wolf Pack football into a championship program.”

Norvell just completed his first regular season as an assistant on Todd Graham‘s Arizona State coaching staff.  With the Sun Devils, Norvell served as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

Norvell has spent most of his nearly three decades in coaching at Power Five programs, with stops that included Texas (2015), Oklahoma (2008-14), UCLA (2007), Nebraska (2004-06), Iowa State (1995-97), Wisconsin (1989-94) and Iowa (1986-87).  He also spent six seasons as an assistant in the NFL — 1998-2001 as the wide receivers coach of the Indianapolis Colts, 2002-03 as tight ends coach of the Oakland Raiders.

“I want to thank University president Marc Johnson and Doug Knuth for this tremendous opportunity,” Norvell said. “Our family is humbled and honored to lead the Nevada football program. It is our charge to make this the flagship program of the Mountain West Conference.”

Jay Norvell reportedly set to be named head coach at Nevada

Jay Norvell, Jerrod Heard
Associated Press
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Yet another FBS opening is reportedly on the verge of being closed.

According to a report from FootballScoop.com, Jay Norvell “will be the next head coach at Nevada.” The Reno Gazette-Journal writes that “Norvell, the third and final candidate to interview for the Wolf Pack football head-coaching vacancy, was so impressive he didn’t even leave Reno before being offered the job, which he quickly accepted.” Norvell was offered the job late Wednesday night.

The other two interviewed were Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. The former interviewed Monday, the latter Tuesday.

If/when hired, Norvell would replace Brian Polian, who “mutually parted ways” with the football program last month after four seasons. This would be Norvell’s first head-coaching job at any level.

Norvell just completed his first regular season as an assistant on Todd Graham‘s Arizona State coaching staff.  With the Sun Devils, Norvell served as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

Norvell has spent most of his nearly three decades in coaching at Power Five programs, with stops that included Texas (2015), Oklahoma (2008-14), UCLA (2007), Nebraska (2004-06), Iowa State (1995-97), Wisconsin (1989-94) and Iowa (1986-87).  He also spent six seasons as an assistant in the NFL — 1998-2001 as the wide receivers coach of the Indianapolis Colts, 2002-03 as tight ends coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Nevada announces it has “mutually parted ways” with Brian Polian

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 29:  Head coach Brian Polian of the Nevada Wolf Pack walks the sidelines during the first quarter of the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl against the Colorado State Rams at Arizona Stadium on December 29, 2015 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Nevada crushed rival UNLV 45-10 on Saturday, but that triumph wasn’t enough to save head coach Brian Polian‘s job. The program announced Sunday it is “mutually parting ways” with its 4-year head coach.

“I have respected the way Coach Polian emphasized academic and life achievement among his student-athletes, and I wish Brian and Laura Polian and their family great success in the future,” Nevada president Marc Johnson said in a statement.

The Wolf Pack went 4-8 in Polian’s debut season of 2013, then booked back-to-back 7-6 campaigns in 2014-15 before backsliding to 5-7 this fall.

Though the school didn’t progress as it expected on the field, Nevada highlighted the number of off-the-field gains it made under Polian. From the release:

Polian’s tenure at Nevada did see gains in off-the-field pursuits, including the program’s highest APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores in the program’s history and a team grade-point average of better than 3.0. Last year, linebacker Jordan Dobrich was named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, the “academic Heisman” and was the program’s first-ever National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, one of just 12 in the nation.

“I appreciate the opportunity that I was given by President Johnson and the University of Nevada four years ago,” Polian said. “I felt, and continue to feel, that we were building a solid foundation for this program. However, this season was fraught with adversity and in the end, we did not win enough games. Like every coach, I understand that this is a business. I wish we would have produced better results in 2016.”

The son of longtime NFL personnel man Bill Polian, the younger Polian made his name coaching special teams for Notre Dame under Charlie Weis, for Stanford under Jim Harbaugh and for Texas A&M under Kevin Sumlin before landing the Nevada job.

‘Two significant concussions’ force Nevada RB Akeel Lynch to retire

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 22: Akeel Lynch #22 of the Penn State Nittany Lions runs the ball against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated Penn State 16-14. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Concussion have once again brought a premature end to a collegiate playing career.

In a missive posted to his personal Twitter account, Akeel Lynch announced that he has “made the decision to stop playing football.” The Nevada running back’s decision was made because of “two significant concussions” he suffered in “a short period of time” and after consultation with doctors and family members.

“I’ve been battling the internal conflict between a childhood dream and consequence of another concussion,” Lynch added.

In January, Lynch announced his decision to move on from Penn State and ultimately landed at nevada as a graduate transfer. In three games this season, Lynch had rushed for 28 yards on eight carries.

He hadn’t played the last two games because of the most recent concussion.

After redshirting as a three-star true freshman in 2012, Lynch ran for 358 yards the following season for the Nittany Lions. A team-leading 678 yards rushing in 2014 set him up to be the bellcow of the Nittany Lions’ running game this past season; however, the emergence of true freshman Saquon Barkley (1,076 yards) relegated Lynch to a secondary role — his 282 yards were still second on the team — and helped pave the way for his departure from Happy Valley.

Sackless in South Bend: Irish lone remaining FBS team without a sack

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And then there was one.

Entering Week 4, Nevada and Notre Dame were the lone FBS teams that had yet to register a sack during the first quarter of the 2016 season.  Midway through the second quarter of the game against Purdue today, however, Nevada’s Korey Rush sacked David Blough for a four-yard loss.

With Notre Dame not playing until 3:30 ET this afternoon (on NBC), that leaves the Irish standing alone as the only sackless team left at the FBS level.

Ironically enough, Purdue entered today’s game as one of five FBS teams, along with East Carolina, Northern Illinois, Texas State and West Virginia, that had recorded just one sack on the year.  And, for those who are curious, Florida came into Week 4 leading the nation in sacks with 16.

No. 2 in that category?  The Irish’s opponent this afternoon, the Blue Devils (tied with Ball State).

UPDATED 6:11 p.m. ET: And then there were none.

Early in the third quarter of the game with Duke, Nyles Morgan sacked Blue Devils quarterback Daniel Jones, giving the Irish their first sack of the season 14 quarters after it started.