Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 | 2 a.m.
For those Rebels fans who haven’t moved on to basketball practice season — all four of you — this column is for you.
It’s about how this game Saturday against winless New Mexico, quite possibly the worst college football team in the land, if not the entire solar system (especially considering the Neptune Newts of the Great Dark Spot Conference recently snapped their 22-game interplanetary losing streak by upsetting Pluto State), is the most crucial game in the UNLV coaching career of Mike Sanford.
Provided, that is, he wants to stay on as Rebels coach. Perhaps his spread offense would play better on Pluto, where the playing field consists of nitrogen with traces of methane and carbon dioxide.
I realize that were I to dedicate this space to Chace Stanback’s left ankle sprain, the possibility exists that many of you still would be reading. But it is my profound and utmost hope that the four loyalists mentioned above, who haven’t shifted their focus to basketball practice season despite the UNLV administration’s repeated failure to address Sanford’s future right here, right now, will find what I have to say at least mildly amusing.
You know, like that fake field goal coming out of a timeout he called against Utah last week.
After embarrassing losses to Wyoming, Nevada-Reno and Brigham Young, most UNLV fans were ready to escort Sanford down The Green Mile without assistance from new President Neal Smatresk or new interim athletic director Jerry Koloskie or New Kids on the Block or whatever new persons from whatever block are now responsible for overseeing the football program. Sometimes, with this lack of activity, it’s hard to tell.
I wanted to at least wait and see if Sanford would cough up some flies against Utah last week before anointing him Dead Man Coaching, but all he coughed up was an ill-advised fake field goal attempt when the Rebels were still sort of in the game. They lost 35-15. The four loyalists said that was a big improvement over the past two weeks, and it was.
But losing a conference game by three touchdowns should never be considered an improvement, which only shows how hard it is to get up after you’ve fallen as hard and as far as the Rebels have during the past month.
Of course, they are still bowl eligible, which is the excuse the new kids on the block keep falling back on for failing to address Sanford’s fate right here, right now. A skeptic might categorize that one with “the sun got in my eyes” or “the check’s in the mail” or “I thought Cano was on the base” or whatever umpire Tim McClelland said after the men in blue blew another batch of calls in the baseball playoffs Tuesday night. But so far, its lameness aside, the bowl eligibility excuse seems to be working as a stall tactic.
If Sanford is any closer to becoming the offensive coordinator at Pluto State, nobody will say it for the record, at least not right here, right now.
If the Rebels lose to New Mexico, they still will be mathematically bowl eligible. All they will have to do to sneak into the Fuller Brush Bowl is run the table against TCU, Colorado State, Air Force, Open (an early 3-point favorite), San Diego State, the Ampipe Bulldogs, the Minnesota State Screaming Eagles, the Mean Machine, the Prison Guards, the North Dallas Bulls, the South Park Cows and the Tom Landry Middle School Longhorns.
But should the Rebels lose to New Mexico, there must be an independent investigation. The Warren Commission, Joe Mannix and the Fort Collins cops should be summoned. The boy will have fallen out of the bubble once and for all.
Not only is New Mexico winless, but it is also coach-less. Its head coach and one of his assistants have been suspended and put on administrative leave, respectively, because they got into a fistfight. I don’t think it was over a fake field goal attempt coming out of a timeout, because, when you think about it, that might have been justifiable grounds for a fistfight.
If the Rebels can’t beat a winless, coach-less team, then the new kids on the block will have to act.
They will have to act right here.
They will have to act right now.
Unless, of course, Chace Stanback is due for an MRI on his sprained left ankle. Then they can wait until he’s cleared to practice.