TIGER KICKOFF: 10 things you didn't know about the University of Nevada-Reno

Friday, September 25, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 3:03 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reno. "The biggest little city in the world."

We've never been quite sure what that means.

We are sure that it's where Missouri will be traveling for its first true road game of the year today.

You've probably heard plenty of things about the state of Nevada (thanks Las Vegas), and sure, some of them are probably true. But you never know.

Our things you didn't know about The University of Nevada-Reno? Take them to the bank.

10. Retired boxing referee Mills Lane graduated from the University of Nevada. You might know Lane from his stints as both a courtroom judge or as the referee of the infamous Mike Tyson/Evander Holyfield fight that ended with Tyson chewing off part of Holyfield’s ear. Personally, our favorite Mills Lane role is his gig as the referee on MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch.” Does it get any better than watching claymation versions of boy bands duel to the death? Umm … we think not. Let’s get it on!

9. Missouri's Alamo Bowl appearance against Northwestern might have been deemed the “Journalism Bowl” for the strong journalism programs of both universities, but Nevada boasts a good J-School, too. UNR has produced six Pulitzer Prize winners. MU has 21. But really, who’s counting?

8. We'll give them credit for abandoning both the "Sagebrushers" and the "Sage Hens" for "The Wolf Pack" in the '20s, but the creativity at UNR in naming its mascots might be, well ... lacking. Up until 1999 the school was represented by an anthropomorphic wolf named "Wolfie." He was eventually replaced by his cousin, "Alphie," the alpha wolf. That's sorta better, we guess.

7. People from UNR don’t like UNLV. Like, they really don’t like it. Current coach Chris Ault once said that he associates the color red with three things: “the Soviet Union, the devil and UNLV.” Yikes.

6. UNR took eighth in the NCAA Rifle Championships held at Texas Christian University in March. More than 30 NCAA schools boast rifle teams including the City University of New York-John Jay Bloodhounds, the Rose-Hulman Fightin’ Engineers and the national powerhouse Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. None of those are made up. We promise.

5. Researchers at the University of Nevada are credited with being the first group to teach another animal human communication when they taught Washoe the chimpanzee sign language during a project in the late 1960s. Just one step closer to “Planet of the Apes” if you ask us.

4. Nevada coach Chris Ault has been associated with the program as either head coach or athletic director for the past 38 years, and he is one of only two active head coaches not named Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden to be inducted into the College Football Hall Of Fame. During his tenure the team has gone from a Division II program to one with a current streak of four FBS bowl appearances. He has a career record of 198-90-1. There are no quips to be made about coach Ault. That’s just impressive.

3. Reno used to be referred to as "the divorce capital of the world" partly because of its lenient divorce laws. Ironically enough, it's also because of services available in Reno that are illegal in about 46 other states and the majority of countries.

2. Nevada graduate Ron Toomer is an engineer who’s given credit for the world’s first upside-down roller coaster, the Corkscrew. Toomer has designed more than 80 of the rides but doesn’t ride them because of a problem with motion sickness. That might be the saddest thing ever. OK, maybe not. But definitely top five.

1. The UNR campus was the setting of several movie shoots during the 1940s including “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College” starring Shirley Temple. Did you know that on top of having a delicious drink named after her, Temple was the U.S. Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia? We’re not sure how we feel about this. It’s a tad bit irresponsible to let a 6-year-old be the ambassador to a country, isn’t it?

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L Martinov September 25, 2009 | 4:57 p.m.

The "services" alluded to in item 3 might be available in Reno, but they are illegal. I've lived in Nevada my whole life and learned a few things! Thanks for the article!

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