Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
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In preparation for this Saturday's Battle for the Fremont Cannon at Sam Boyd Stadium between UNLV and Nevada-Reno, Ryan Greene chats with Reno Gazette-Journal columnist Dan Hinxman for a closer look at the No. 25 Wolf Pack. You'll find out just how Chris Ault's team is approaching this one mentally, along with who are some key names, outside of the obvious, to keep in mind.
From The Other Side
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- Pack football cracks into polls at 25 — Reno Gazette-Journal
- Wolf Pack quickly snaps focus onto UNLV game — Reno Gazette-Journal
- 'Beat UNLV' Special Section — The Nevada Sagebrush
Cashell Fieldhouse is the official headquarters of the UNR football program.
It houses all the regular amenities of a football program’s residence — coaches’ offices, film rooms, locker rooms and equipment storage areas — and one prized artifact in the lobby.
For the past five years, Cashell Fieldhouse has been home to a painted blue version of the Fremont Cannon.
“It’s the most symbolic trophy for winning a state championship in the country and as much a part of the football tradition as the game itself,” said UNR coach Chris Ault, according to the school’s sports information department. “The Fremont Cannon is such a monumental trophy that we built a spot for it when we built Cashell Fieldhouse in the 1980s.”
The cannon is awarded annually to the winner of the UNLV vs. UNR football game and painted either red or blue. Hence why the Wolf Pack haven't relinquished control of it since 2004, the year before Mike Sanford took over as the Rebels coach.
Sanford went 0-5 during his tenure and never possessed the country’s biggest and most expensive rivalry trophy. The cannon weighs in at nearly 550 pounds and cost $10,000 to assemble.
Here is a timeline outlining the Fremont Cannon’s history.
1843-1844: These were the days of the real Fremont Cannon. Explorer and eventual presidential candidate John Charles Fremont traveled through Nevada, California and Oregon on an expedition with the howitzer cannon. Legend states Fremont abandoned the cannon somewhere in a Sierra Nevada snowdrift.
1969: Bill Ireland, UNLV’s first football coach and a UNR alum, came up with the idea of the two teams playing for a replica of Fremont’s cannon before their first meeting. Ireland’s idea came to fruition when the Kennecott Cooper Corp. reconstructed the cannon and donated it to the rivalry.
1970: Although UNR won the first meeting between the schools, UNLV was the first to control the cannon. The Rebels beat the Wolf Pack, 42-30, in 1970 to avenge 1969’s 30-28 defeat. The cannon was not completed until 1970, meaning it debuted the year UNLV grabbed its first win of the series.
1973: UNLV can claim to having the cannon before UNR, but the Wolf Pack were the first to fire it. In 1973, when the Wolf Pack beat the Rebels 19-3, a UNR military science student shot it off. It became tradition for the team in possession of the cannon to fire it after every touchdown.
1978: This was the date of the infamous airport incident. After UNR upset UNLV as 20-point underdogs on the road, Ault and the Wolf Pack had to find a way to get the cannon back to Reno. Ault ordered his team to figure out how to disassemble the cannon and talked McCarran Airport officials into letting them carry small pieces of the cannon onto the plane.
1980s: The cannon spent seven of 10 years in Las Vegas during this decade. The catch? The rivals only played four times in that span, so the Rebels had the luxury of keeping the cannon for five straight years with only one win.
Oct. 7, 2000: This is where cannon folklore started to pick up — literally. After UNLV beat UNR 38-7 at Sam Boyd Stadium for the first time in six years, players and fans lifted up the cannon in celebration. The group subsequently dropped it and damaged the trophy.
Oct. 21, 2000: The UNLV athletics department repaired the cannon at a cost of $1,500 before the Rebels next home game against Wyoming, which they won 42-23.
2001: For the first time in nearly 30 years, the cannon is not available to fire during the game.
2009: UNR wins the cannon for the fifth straight year with a 63-28 victory. It’s the third straight time the cannon has stayed in one location for a half-decade, as UNR won every game from 1995-1999 and UNLV from 2000-2004. Neither the Wolf Pack nor the Rebels, however, have ever controlled it for six consecutive years. UNR appears ready to break that trend Saturday as it comes to Sam Boyd Stadium as 20-point favorites. Then again, it’s a rivalry game and never a sure thing what will happen with the cannon.