Published Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 | 12:47 p.m.
Updated Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 | 2:34 p.m.
The crowd outside UNLV’s student union nearly doubled when a lecture hall-size group of students realized the Fremont Cannon was on the opposite side of the building. Chalk the confusion up to inexperience.
UNLV hasn’t had a chance to celebrate with the cannon for eight years and today was the first time most students ever saw it in person. Approximately 300 students, players, faculty and coaches crowded around to take pictures with and paint UNLV’s trophy for defeating rival UNR 27-22 on Saturday.
“It’s good for us to be around this type of thing and know that people are behind us,” senior quarterback Caleb Herring said.
The Rebels players gathered at the Lied Athletic Complex early this afternoon, loaded the cannon on a small trailer and walked it through campus to the union. The mini-parade was coach Bobby Hauck’s idea.
“We could have done this at the practice facility or the locker room,” Hauck told the crowd, “but we wanted to bring this out and celebrate it with all of our students and the people who have supported us.”
The team brought a can of red paint and brushes, which was passed around to the seniors, who took turns applying their own brushstrokes. UNLV President Neal Smatresk, athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy and Hauck also applied a little red.
Their ceremonial strokes will be sanded off, along with every last trace of blue, at the university’s paint center. The cannon was taken there around 1 p.m. and it should be ready for display by Friday.
The Rebels have spent a lot of quality time with the cannon since celebrating with it Saturday in the visitors locker room at Mackay Stadium. Today was about sharing that excitement with as many people as possible.
“This is the best I’ve felt playing in college since, ever,” said senior running back Tim Cornett, who rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown in the win.
Hauck is hoping a lot of those people, plus a few thousand more, show up for UNLV’s homecoming game at 1 p.m. Saturday against San Jose State (4-3, 3-1). The Spartans come in with a top-10 passing offense and a three-game winning streak.
“They have been on fire,” Hauck said.
After such a big emotional victory against UNR, there’s considerable risk of a hangover effect for UNLV going into this weekend. Cornett and Hauck said watching game film, both of the Rebels’ mistakes last week and of SJSU quarterback David Fales, should snap them out of celebration mode pretty quick. There’s also another major milestone — UNLV’s first bowl game since 2000 — out there for motivation.
“We understand that there’s a bigger goal here,” Herring said. “If this rivalry game had been for bowl eligibility, it might have been a little harder to get refocused.”
Should the Rebels make a bowl game, there would probably be another event at the union somewhere down the road. And while experience is key in football, it’s also important for the UNLV campus community that now knows which side of the building to check for the party.