Las Vegas Sun

January 19, 2018

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Ray Brewer: From the Pressbox

ray brewer:

With the exception of football rivalry, UNLV is clearly superior to UNR


Associated Press

The Fremont Cannon sat in the corner of Sam Boyd Stadium on Oct. 2, 2010, as UNR defeated UNLV 44-26 and kept the trophy. The teams get together Saturday at noon in Las Vegas with the Rebels trying to snap a seven-game losing streak in the series.

If there is any doubt as to which of Nevada’s two state universities has superior athletics, consider the following:

At Lawlor Events Center, banners boast of the UNR basketball team’s appearances in the postseason NIT. At UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center, a banner acknowledges the 1990 national championship team — alongside the retired jerseys of legends Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and others.

Celebrating a NIT appearance is a clear indicator that mediocrity is acceptable for UNR. Competing for a national championship, which is arguably obtainable this spring for UNLV basketball, is not on the UNR radar. Not for any sport. Not ever.

UNR, located in small-town Reno, has small-time goals. There’s nothing wrong with that, and every now and then, it produces a memorable season or notable victory — especially the past few football seasons.

The UNLV-UNR comparisons are more relevant this week because Saturday is the annual Fremont Cannon football game. To the winner goes a year’s possession of a life-sized cannon, which it gets to paint in its school colors.

Yes, UNR has won a record seven straight seasons in proving it has the better football program. In fact, UNLV has one of the nation’s worst teams with just five wins the past three seasons, while UNR beat Cal of the Pac-12 conference this year, won a league title two years ago and regularly competes in bowl games.

It pains me, a UNLV graduate and proud hater of all things Northern Nevada, to write that, because it’s mind-boggling that UNLV football is consistently that bad in a game with such significance to its fan base. The games aren’t even close with UNLV losing by a combined 90 points the past three years, keeping the cannon Wolf Pack blue. So ugly.

“If it’s a real rivalry, one of them’s got to win it once in a while, that being us,” UNLV coach Bobby Hauck told media Monday. “We need to win this game.”

Aside from the football domination, it’s tough to find ways UNR is superior to UNLV. Sure, I’m a Rebel, and this might not be my most objective stab at journalism, but let’s compare the universities:

• UNLV, located in a worldwide destination of Las Vegas, has one of the nation’s top hotel schools, a ranked law school, and a dental program. U.S. News and World Report ranks it as the 13th most popular university, based on the number of students who annually apply; UNR comes in at No. 28.

UNR does have a medical school, which is considered the nation’s 86th best by U.S. News in its 2012 rankings.

• UNLV students spend their leisure time at world-class resorts such as the Cosmopolitan and Bellagio on the Strip. UNR students have the Eldorado in downtown Reno, which has blackjack tables, a sports book and women who look good only after a few drinks of Crown Royal and cola.

• We have “CSI,” they have “Reno 911!”

• Las Vegas residents kept the 702 phone area code; Reno changed to 775. Reno, after all, is Nevada’s fourth most populated city behind Henderson and North Las Vegas.

• The UNLV mascot, Hey Reb — based on a frontiersmen — can win a fight against a Wolf. He is smarter, can trap him and shoot him.

This rant is familiar to UNLV fans this time of year, when UNR supporters point out the obvious (the team in the blue always beats the overmatched players in red) in the debate over which university is better.

The series will never reach the madness of Ohio State-Michigan or Alabama-Auburn, but for us passionate about the Silver State, it’s an event long circled on our calendars.

When I graduated from Chaparral High School to UNLV, several of my classmates left for UNR, bragging they were getting away from home while ragging on us for attending the University of Never Leave Las Vegas. Funny, right?

Leaving Las Vegas for Reno (or the cheapest option to leave home to party in dorms) is no bargain. Aside from the football rivalry, red is better than blue. Always has been. Always will be.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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