Las Vegas Sun

August 21, 2019

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Harvey’s Rebels had a few warts, but not as many as you may have heard


The passage of time has a way of turning people into something they were not.

Take for instance, the 1984 UNLV football team I wrote about in Monday's print edition.

I heard from some people who said those Rebels were so good they could have beaten the Super Bowl-champion San Francisco 49ers of that year with one hand tied behind their backs.

I heard from others who said those Rebels were so evil they also would have stolen Bill Walsh's wallet and car stereo during the two-minute warning.

I missed the 1984 team by three years. Somebody once told me the Rebels had to forfeit all 11 wins that season because they used a lot of ineligible players. Like 30-something.

Honest. Thirty-something.

I asked Harvey Hyde, the coach of the 1984 Rebels, about that on Friday during a reception at South Point honoring the 1984 Rebels.

He said it was more like six players, due to a misintrepretion of transfer rules. He didn't sound certain about the number.

So I figured it was somewhere in the middle of six and 30-something. It usually is when people try to recount facts after 25 years.

Today, I looked it up. It was seven.

As for the wallet and car stereo jacking, Hyde's players were implicated in seven brushes with the law, ranging from purse stealing to a nightclub brawl (those were former players) to a recruit being charged with having sex with a minor before he became a recruit.

Naturally, you'd want it to be zero brushes with the law. But seven players out of 85 (on the roster) times four (the number of seasons Hyde coached) equals about two percent of Hyde's players who had legal problems -- or about average for a well-respected bastion of higher football learning such as Nebraska, under Dr. Tom Osborne.

In my house, it was 25 percent. My mom and dad raised four kids who turned out to be productive members of society. But one was detained by the authorities twice, and it wasn't my brother or two sisters.

Anyway, there are two sides to every story and here's the other side from somebody who was there, a fellow named Andy Nixon whom Hyde hired in an academic support role.

"What struck me seeing all the guys from that '84 team is the number who came to Las Vegas who were marginally academically prepared, but who stuck with it, made up their deficiencies, in most cases graduated, and, most importantly, the large number who stayed here and continue to give back to the community," Nixon wrote in an e-mail.

"Ironic, as they were so often portrayed as thugs during that era."


"I was thrown out of college for cheating on the metaphysics exam: I looked into the soul of another boy." -- Woody Allen.

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