Sanford places blame elsewhere for UNLV’s shortcomings

Fired head coach says more commitment is needed from administration, community


Ryan Greene/Las Vegas Sun

UNLV coach Mike Sanford, who was told on Sunday that he will not be brought back for a sixth season in 2010, addresses the media at the Lied Athletic Complex on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009. Sanford is 15-43 overall in four-plus seasons at the helm, and he will coach the Rebels’ finale at home against San Diego State on Nov. 28 to close out his tenure.

Sanford Out as UNLV Coach

After a 15-43 record in five seasons as head coach, UNLV put an end to the Mike Sanford era.

The Rebel Room

Sanford out, and what's on deck for Kruger's club

Ryan Greene and Rob Miech dive into the issue of Mike Sanford's firing from UNLV, plus what went down at his Monday press conference. Also, a look at a big week ahead for the Rebels hoops squad, as it hosts UNR and Southern Illinois.

The Rebel Room

Mike Sanford press conference — 11-16-09

UNLV football coach Mike Sanford, who was told on Sunday that he would not be brought back for the 2010 campaign, met with the media on Monday afternoon to answer questions. Here is the sound from the press conference in its entirety.

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Sanford at UNLV

  • Record: 15-43 (.259)
  • MWC Record: 7-32 (.179)
  • Best wins: It's a tie between a 27-0 victory at home over Utah on Sept. 22, 2007, and a 23-20 overtime triumph over then-No. 15 Arizona State in Tempe on Sept. 13, 2008. Both lost some luster, however. On the heels of the victory over Utah, the Rebels lost their final 10 games of the season. In 2008, the ASU win was the highlight of a surprising 3-1 start, but UNLV fizzled quickly, finishing 5-7.
  • Worst losses: Sanford's teams took some brutal beatings in his early years, such as a 51-3 loss at TCU in 2005 and a 52-7 thumping at BYU in 2006. But it was in years four and five, as the program appeared to be on the verge of a turnaround, when a couple of losses stung a little more. The two worst were a 42-28 loss at San Diego State to close out the 2008 campaign, then a 63-28 embarrassment in Reno this fall. At SDSU, the Rebels needed only to topple a two-win team to earn their first bowl berth since 2000, but stumbled early and couldn't recover. In the debacle against UNR, a brutal four-game losing streak was highlighted by a 773-yard offensive performance from the Wolf Pack.
  • Best moment: Sanford was rightfully emotional following the victory at Arizona State. He took a Gatorade shower in the postgame locker room, and it appeared that the program was truly on the cusp of a turnaround following his signature win at UNLV.
  • Worst moment: Desperate for a review of a controversial loss on the final play of a 16-10 loss at Iowa State in his second season, Sanford went on a frantic search for either the game officials - who had already left the field in Ames, Iowa - or the ISU athletic director. Unfortunately for Sanford, his lap around the Cyclones' football complex behind the end zone was caught on film by a local news crew and turned into a popular view on YouTube.

A day after his firing as the head football coach at UNLV, Mike Sanford sat in front of more microphones and recorders than he had seen at almost any point in his five-year tenure.

He used that rare forum to proclaim that, in his mind, the program's failure to get off the ground had nothing to do with who was the head coach.

"In the last 20 years that UNLV has played close to or at BCS-level competition, no football coach has left this program with a winning record, which includes a man — John Robinson — who is being inducted into the college football Hall of Fame next month," he said. "In my opinion, this must be a systemic, infrastructure and commitment issue, and not a coach issue.

"There's a mentality (within the community) of 'Well, let's see if they win, then we'll jump on the bandwagon and help them.' And that's not going to work. It hasn't worked, like I said, for 20 years. UNLV keeps changing coaches, and that's not the answer."

Sanford chose to begin his face time talking about positives the program had experienced under his reign rather than accepting blame or fault for glaring performance issues, such as a perennially porous defense or an inability to consistently win games away from Sam Boyd Stadium.

Interim athletic director Jerry Koloskie said Sunday night and again Monday that Sanford's firing was a performance-based issue.

Yes, there were positives to his tenure, which Sanford pointed out early in his 26-minute session with the local news media. He indicated that the team's overall GPA improved, how the program's Academic Progress Rate went from an unimpressive 889 to 934 and how the program's graduation rate rose from 36 percent to 60.

But good grades and character improvement didn't translate into wins.

He then shifted to how facilities, such as the Rebels' off-campus stadium, are part of the problem.

"I think there needs to be support from the top-level administration at UNLV to being successful in football," Sanford continued. "There needs to be money spent at the level that it's spent. In my opinion, they call it the 'Big Three' in this conference, but really it's the 'Big Four.' It's TCU, BYU, Utah and Air Force. Those four programs are true, in my opinion, BCS programs.

"All I want to do is, I have an opportunity to say some things hopefully that will make this program better."

Sanford went on to call the locker room at Sam Boyd Stadium the worst in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks, discussing how some of the program's aesthetic shortcomings affected the way UNLV recruited.

"I'm not saying that anybody was dishonest with me," Sanford said. "But at the same time, I will say that there are projects and things that were talked about that were going to be done that still aren't done and, probably from the way I'm hearing, are never going to be done.

"You look at the Strip, the money that's there, the resources that can do it. If Boise State can do it, TCU can do it in Fort Worth, then UNLV can do it in Las Vegas."

Sanford also made sure to point out that UNLV is the only Mountain West Conference school without a dedicated student-athlete support center. Still, he clearly stated that the program had seen a major upswing in its academic improvement.

Mixed signals came across at times, and Sanford was asked toward the end whether he was speaking from frustration. Instead — agree with the timing or not — he said he was using the forum to stick up for his current players in terms of difficulties they've faced.

"I wouldn't say that I'm frustrated at all," he said. "Here's my purpose in what I'm saying: My first thing is to be honest about what I've gone through, how much I appreciate this job and the opportunity that I had here. I think that I'm pretty dang positive about this, and I've been positive through a lot of adversity over the course of this job.

"My other purpose in this is I just think it's important. To me, I believe I would be selling our players short, not be doing what our coaching staff and I believe is right if I did not bring out the truth about where this program is and what it needs to do to be successful, and it's not changing coaches."

Still, no matter what the extenuating circumstances were behind the scenes during Sanford's five-year run, Koloskie — who ultimately made the decision to let go of Sanford and passed his recommendation on to President Neal Smatresk — stuck by his word this season that no change would be made until the Rebels could no longer attain bowl eligibility. That fate was sealed with an ugly 45-17 loss at Air Force on Saturday, dropping UNLV to 4-7 this season.

Under Sanford, the Rebels are 15-43 overall and 7-32 in Mountain West play.

"I don't think I said the coach is the problem," Koloskie said. "I just said we have to be more successful, and it starts with your head coach. Ultimately, they're responsible for the program. Again, I believe we have the resources in place to be successful here, and I think we can be, and that's my goal, if it lies on my shoulders, is to find that coach who will make us successful.

"I think Mike's done a great job here, he's entitled to his own opinions, it's just time to move on."

The 54-year-old Sanford said he has not yet thought of what the next step in his career will be, and won't worry about it until after UNLV concludes its season Nov. 28 against San Diego State at Sam Boyd Stadium.

"When I took this job, I laid out goals that were very high for this program," he said. "I don't regret the high standard that I set. I came from a university community — the University of Utah — which I believe understands the commitment necessary in the area of finances, facilities and community support to truly compete at the BCS level. I had high hopes and expectations to bring that level of a program to UNLV.

"I do not for one second believe that I failed in this pursuit. I just wasn't given enough time or resources to do it."

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  1. He could have said any of these things in the last five years. I think the way he handled bringing up these valid points -- particularly as it relates to the facilities within Sam Boyd Stadium, which are pathetic -- says, yet again, a lot about his character.

    An on-campus stadium is a non-issue because nobody's going to pay for it... the big donors are all related to casino companies, and another stadium would be competition for events that they want at their venues. But about 1/4 to 1/3 of Las Vegas' population lives on the east side of town -- and most UNLV students don't live on campus. The location is fine, but the facilities within are not.

  2. " I do not for one second believe that I failed in this pursuit"
    *0-5 against in state rival UNR
    *1 Conference road victory in 5 years
    *7 total conference wins in 5 years
    If he loses to SDSU he will have the same winning percentage as Jeff Horton who had less talent, a far worse practice field and an unrenovated Sam Boyd Stadium to work with.

    Coach, drop the lighter and step away from the crack pipe. You made bad decisions, failed to adjust your staff properly for poor performance, and refused to take any responsibility.

  3. Making more excuses! What a joke, what happened to" we'll win the MWC and go to a bowl game" in your first year. Good luck to you coach but you were terrible and for once just man up !

  4. Let me tell you, UNLV will never do better then this coach. The program sucks, not the coach. High schools have better faculties then the UNLV Football program. Should of kept the coach and invested in infrastructure. 4-7 is a surprisingly good record considering what the coach had to work with, and he could of easily been 5-6. Honestly I think Vegas fans are totally delusional when it comes to their football team.

  5. Does Chris Ault complain about how the Nevada Budget situation hurt his football team? NO

    He goes out and puts 70 on a Coach without a clue. Nevada does not have luxury facilities. Yet they can go to a bowl game on an annual basis.

    Where were these complaints earlier? How about prior to the season?

    Your lockeroom has nothing to do with how you Coach a game!
    It has nothing to do with him choosing not to aggressively go after local talent!
    It has nothing to do with blocking and tackling!

    Here is a guy who flies first class to Coaching Conventions brags the entire flight about how his program is in the same conference with Utah and now wants to complain?

    Your College Head Coaching career is done! Period.
    You did not have any skills to get out to convince anyone to buy into you - recruits and donors.

    Give us a proven Coach and watch how people respond. Look at Kruger. Hell the guy goes out and gets his own PR guy to help him. What did you do Coach?

    You must have been bragging to someone outside of Las Vegas instead of dealing with your short comings as a program.

    Sanford you are a joke!

    Let Channel 8 and 1100 buy into your excuses, they are on the payroll.

    The rest of us know the truth - you had no business as a Head Football Coach at a BCS school.

  6. Thank you for your service Mike Sanford. Your inherited a bare cupboard and at least stabilized the program with high school players who graduated at a pretty good clip.

    Now, there is a better coach out there then Mike Sanford who the Rebels can hire that, given the current situation, will be able to have a close to .500 record every year with a few bowls games here and there.

    But, Mike Sanford is right. Until UNLV builds an on campus stadium, an indoor practice facility, and an academic center (which is in the works), we will never have the kind of success we think we deserve.

    If Neal Smatresk is not at least slowly putting the pieces in place to at least set us on course to build an on campus stadium sometime in the next decade, then for all the great things he has done so far, he is failing UNLV.

    Build it and they will come. Campus life will be transformed. UNLV will be a real university with a real football program. The time is now.

    Mr. Sanford, if there is just one lasting impression you have made, hopefully it will be that you publicly spoke the truth and hopefully, the media starts bringing public awareness to the stadium issue.

    UNLV, its students, its alumni, and the community of Las Vegas deserve an on campus stadium.

  7. I agree that UNLV needs an on campus stadium. But, I don't agree that you have to build it then they will come. This is not a fictional Field of Dreams. The real world saw Jerry Tarkanian come to UNLV with less facilities than Sanford found. UNLV played games in the old flying saucer shaped convention center. The real world saw Jerry win and with the winning came the facilities. The right coach can do that.

  8. Sanford is a horrible head coach. He has no clue how to manage the clock, 4th down situations, defensive schemes, etc, etc... But he is right about many of the things he said. We have facilities that are beyond pathetic, the stadium being so far and many other issues make it hard to recruit and build a program. Having said that, I do believe that he should have been fired. No matter what the situation is, he should have been able to win more than 1 road conference game in 5 yrs. Many of the 15 wins he got were against teams like Sacramento st, so really he won less than 15 games. I don't think any coach we hire could be worse... but it probably won't be much better unless there is a commitment to the football team. Honestly, getting rid of the football team and just focusing on basketball is not a bad idea. The west coast conference has some pretty good basketball programs.

  9. BringTheRain ... I think you make an excellent point. I do think that Sanford hit the button on some key issues facing this program, but I think the thing that will stick with a lot of people in the long run was the timing of him saying these things after being here for five years, then unloading on it all at once. At least that's what will stick with me ...

  10. Ryan, I'm sure he mentioned a lot of those things privately. What is he supposed to do, hold a press conference in the middle of year 2 saying the facilities suck??? He was under contract so of course he couldn't openly criticize UNLV. I'm sure these are issues he discussed internally for the 5 yrs he was here. Like I mentioned before, he is a horrendous coach but just about everything he said is valid.

  11. This is typical Sanford. Blame anything else. I don't care what you say about faciliites or whatever else. He was borderline incompetent and there are too many examples to count. I'm sure it was the facilities that caused last year's team to go to SDSU and get blitzed. I'm sure it was the facilities that got this year's team absolutely crushed three weeks in a row. It starts with the coach and ends with coach. His typical excuse making probably trickles down.

    No one expects UNLV to start BCS busting in the next year or two. But there is no reason they can't become bowl eligible. Play with some effort, pride, and smarts and the fans will come. They are aching too.

    Also, UNLV fans need to accept reality that there will never be a stadium on campus. There is no room for it anywhere and its not a good use of land in that area. Fact is, you don't need it to win. Start winning some games and better facilities will follow.

  12. I don't know where Sanford is more incompetent as a head coach... On the field or in the press conference. Always someone else's fault. Good riddance. I would wish you well... but I kinda don't want to.

  13. It was time for Sanford to go but give the guy some credit. Sanford is absolutely right and he did the best he could with the awful situation he inherited.

    There are about 200 loyal UNLV football fans and a media that emphasizes only reporting the negative. Funny guy Craptowski and negative Graney have NO desire to see UNLV football succeed because then they would have nothing to write about. How is a coach to succeed and especially RECRUIT in this type of environment? Not defending Sanford but come on"

  14. Hate him if you must but Sanford is basically right on in his assessment.

  15. OK. So now that the coach is fired, lets see how well the pathetic fan base in Las Vegas responds to a new coach! I can assure you that those of you saying "win-and they will come" are living in a fantasy. You see-Las Vegas has the worst fans. Period. Sanford hit it on the head at one point when he said the community does not support the football team. I honestly beleive that bringing in a high profile coach will do nothing to improve the fan base. They could go 11-0 and there would never be a sellout unless the visiting team brought their own fans. The people in Las Vegas would have another reason to not show up. Getting the poor car all dirty, its too far to the stadium, what a bunch of crap!

    There are many places around the country that are s***holes compared to what we have. Have you ever been to Lincoln, Neb? A horrible place and the stadium is older than ours but they are absolutely nuts there for football! They had a horrible coach in Callahan but that did not sway them from supporting the school! How do you people in Vegas expect the University to get a high profile coach when they see that the people in Las Vegas suck in supporting the school? Good luck! You really don't deserve to have UNLV in your town you freaking cry baby's!

  16. Whether or not Sanford is right in what he says is completely irrelevant. The fact is he has NEVER, EVER, EVER taken responsibility for the struggles of his team. It's always b/c the kids didn't execute, or the refs screwed up, or AF played dirty, or there is no on-campus stadium. A good coach takes responsibility for the failures of his team. Sanford never did all the way up to the bitter end. THAT is why I don't support Sanford.

  17. Robinson managed to build that on-campus practice "park" in his short time as coach/AD. Maybe among his failings was that Sanford didn't accomplish further facilities improvements, for whatever reason, such as bad fundraising skills/donor-booster relations.

    There was a lot of bad coaching, too. One of the most memorable being the fake field goal off a time out even though we were only down by 10 against BYU this year.

  18. P.S. If you want another job coaching, it's probably not a good idea to come out and say, "I admit it, I'm a bad coach." It is much better to say, "look what I did at Utah, then I got stuck at podunk UNLV with no support..."

  19. I am glad that Sandford made these statements because they are true and we don't need a magnifying glass to see these truths. The big truth is that if you ever heard any of his press conferences you would see that he never takes responsibility for his losses. The bottom line is that he is responsible for the team, and I'm sure he knew about the situation of the program and it's infrastructure before signing on. So the truth of the matter is that he has no reason to complain.

    I believe that he definitely has recruited better talent but he is like a football version of Steve Fisher, who can't do anything with the talent.

    Yes facilities help recruit, but the honest truth is that there is no place on campus to put a stadium. People say that you can remove the intramural fields on Harmon, but what they don't understand is that they are used by the rest of the university community and that area is not nearly large enough to place a stadium.

    Look at Kansas, Missouri, Boise State. They are not big name schools but they managed to find the right coach, and in the case of Boise the right coach succession, to bring their little known football program to a national stage. If the community college known as Nevada can manage a bowl game every year with crap facilities, then are we to say that we need brand spanking new facilities to win? That statement is garbage, and carries not merit. You can't tell me that where you play determines how good a team is! Brand new stadium seating doesn't teach the 3-4 defense, or how to effectively cover your man!

    I had the fortune to have a dinner conversation with one of the people in the running for our AD position and he stated that what this football team needs is a "change in our culture. We need someone to come in and bring a winning tradition to make the culture a winning culture". I completely agreed with him, and I fully hope that he gets the position because I could tell in speaking with him for about an hour that he has a passion for this University. What's funny is that I didn't know who he was until after I did some research, so it's not like he was lobbying to get me on his side...


  20. hey - mormonwithOUTabrain - get off the site and go support your mediocre ass cougars and see them get smoked by tcu at home-thats as close as you'll get to a bcs bowl with your poor excuse for tailgate environment... get off your high horse and hope you don't get sweeped in basketball...again

    sanford did a decent job at recruiting on his side of the football - he hired horrible assistants who make no adjustments when their defense is getting sliced up, his in-game decision making is probably the worst i have ever seen and im not usually one to second guess coaches... you cant tell me that this defense has a talent disparity that is 40 points or 500-700 yards worse than Reno or byu - this city wont get behind anyone unless they win ... the drive to boyd is a pain but people will go if the rebels win, go .500, make a bowl here or there and BEAT RENO - people will be happy

    we boo, put up negative signs and wear paper bags because we want to make a statement - we do not want to be represented by mediocrity by being content with failure and thats what this team has done - its embarrassing - the students deserve better - we shouldn't have to sell anyone on our "commitment" to the program theres nothing to commit to the administration needs to commit and sell the program to us - its not all sanfords fault but he certainly was another setback

  21. I really don't care whether or the not a coach says "it was my fault." It doesn't change anything. It seems like everyone would forgive him if he'd just say that.

    Sanford's right, a lot of things suck about the program. But why should we care if he admits fault? He didn't get the job done, he consequently lost his job, he can place the blame wherever he wants.

  22. Clearly, Sanford had his share of the blame for the last five years.

    But he used the opportunity Monday to point out some things that *must* be addressed, and realistically *can* be addressed. First among them, the atrocious state of the player facilities at Sam Boyd.

    The home locker room smells like mold, it's dark, it's cramped and hard to get around in, it's partitioned poorly and there isn't much parking behind it for players to arrive directly at the stadium on game day.

    The sad part is the visitors locker room is in much better shape, at least aesthetically, after the XFL upgraded it. Obviously, the visitors locker room doesn't have the same space for coaches offices (which are also cramped and dank.)

    That whole north end of the stadium should have been redone years ago, with a short section of stands, new lockers, moving the scoreboard to the south end zone to free up a view of Frenchman's Mountain... but for cryin' out loud, instead, they're stuck with a 1960s-era cinder block locker room that looks like it belongs in a city park, not in the stadium of a team trying to become an automatic qualifier for the BCS.


    Again, for those of you suggesting an on-campus stadium, think of this:

    1. TCF Bank Stadium at Minnesota cost $280 million to build. I think it's fair to expect similar construction costs for a new stadium in Las Vegas.

    2. To build an on-campus stadium, you're going to have to replace the parking you're sacrificing for it. That's going to involve a garage, which is another expense.

    3. The FAA is reluctant to approve football stadiums near airport flight paths. See what happened when Phoenix/Tempe tried to build their new football stadium under the Sky Harbor approach path.

    4. Back to cost. Roughly $300 million to raise from a community that is as stingy as it gets when it comes to taxes. That means donors, significant donors... donors connected to the largest industry in town, which has *zero* interest in seeing a new event venue being built close to the Strip.

    Or you could spend $10 million at Sam Boyd and upgrade the player facilities for recruiting purposes. That $10 million can be paid back in increments every time another Mountain West school makes a BCS game.

    Anyone have a better idea?

  23. He said more commitment is needed for the program. So overall he means if he were paid more then he could actually coach. Great comments coach.

    He is a nice guy, but can mess up a 1 car parade. We can not do much worse, bring on another coach.

  24. rebrun, you make a GREAT point. I went to school at Kansas, and was in Lawrence when the football program made its turnaround from 2-10 in Mark Mangino's first season in 2002 to 12-1 in his sixth season in 2007. There was gradual improvement not from new facilities, but consistent recruiting and a solid coaching staff. THEN, after they won big, the donors forked over the money. Now they have a brand new practice facility with two fields and a building with offices, weight room and a locker room right behind the stadium. They're about to add luxury boxes and revamp the stadium. With winning comes the money. Especially in this economy, it's tough to ask for those things without tangible proof that bowl appearances will be made. Even going just 6-6 last year or this year might have opened up some wallets. UNLV was close, but just couldn't get over that hump.

  25. Completely agree Ryan. This town has a load of money that can be donated but, I don' blame boosters for not wanting to at this point. It's nice to say that if you are a real fan/ booster you will open up your pockets but in reality you have to give the boosters a reason to do so.

    Hypothetically, if Sanford stayed and we magically got a new facility all we would end up with would be regret because he would improve by a game or two.

    The change can happen and all we need is the right coach to make it happen.

  26. Sanford is 100% right as is Ryan Green...the communtiy/administrative support & facilities SUCK and are 2nd Rate at best. And the only way to generate the will to upgrade all of them is to win...and win consistently.

    But that takes talent...serious talent...and why would anybody come and play here (vs other schools)when our facilities are a joke and we dont even have a student-athlete academic support structure? If your kid had a choice where would you want him to play? Do you have any idea of the first rate high school talent in this town!? And we wonder why 95+% of them leave! We get what we pay for...plain and simple.

    Meanwhile, we keep hiring & firing coaches like they are the ONLY problem...and that was Sanford's point....the morons in charge, interim or otherwise, keep prescribing aspirin for a tumor. I dont care who you bring in....John Robinson (and now Sanford) already stated it point blank after experiencing it themselves...YOU CANNOT BUILD A WINNING PROGRAM AT UNLV THE WAY THINGS ARE! Are you listeing Mr Smatresk?

    Sanford took us to the brink and there is no doubt he improved the program. He made several mistakes both on the field and off though that were his downfall. Other than the obvious on the field miscues....I think the biggest mistake he made late was his PR... he alienated the fans... he never identified or acknowledged our pain...never took responsibility publicly for their poor performance.... he circled the wagons and painted us with the same brush as the media and other naysayers. Either way...back to square one! Only to be revisited again in 2015.

  27. Sanford took UNLV to the brink of nothing, djonian mustard.

    @ Mormon giving brain: Rebel fans delusional? That sure as heck sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, pal.

  28. Before everyone gets out their handkerchiefs and start crying about the firing of this coach, please remember he is getting a very handsome buyout as a result of his renewal contract last year. That was no fluke, it was deliberate to make sure he could get a full 5 years into the state retirement, buy another five and retire with the PERS retirment benefits. That is no raw deal...

    He, like his predecessor, have made out like bandits coaching at UNLV. None of them left as paupers... Harvey Hyde, John Robinson and all the others left smiling all the way to the bank with their hefty state retirments in hand, multiple cash out benefits, etc., etc. Each one was able to get their grubby hands on the state retirement after a very minimal number of years of service in Nevada plus the ability to buy 5 years of service benefits. Public School teachers and average state employees must work no less than 30 years for full retirement...

    This nonsense of including short term employees like coaches, athletic directors and the like to enjoy full etirement with as little as 5 full years of service is ridiculous. It's is like allowing Jesse James and his boys to willfully rob the bank anytime they wanted. This is pure nonsense and must be stopped by the legislature.

    It is not school teachers and the average public employee who are bankrupting the system but this type of short service robbery that is doing the job and causing serious damage of the state retirement system.

  29. Good thing the country is not in very serious trouble or all this important football discussion would look pretty silly.

  30. the coach is suppose to inspire the players in a fashion that elevates each players performance. was this the problem with UNLV?

  31. Who cares about college football and for that matter college at all in this town, GET A ROLL!!!!

  32. If you are going to talk campus stadium you have to remember one important thing...the airport. Stand on the intramural fields and see how low the planes are when they fly over.

  33. so these guys get state retirement benifits also in addition to their generous contracts,the rich just keep getting richer,good work if you can find it

  34. GO San Diego State!

  35. Practice facilities don't call the plays on the field. You got a ball, some pads, and a white board, and some grass. At my highschool, we had a poor excuse for a weightroom, to make up for it, we did push-ups, pull-ups, borrowed a projector to watch film, ran up the bleechers, etc. What I'm getting at is we were champions with minimal to work with, but our coaches were exceptional, and worked with what they had and did it well.

    Winners are displayed on the field. Put the pads on, play some ball, and let the best team win. The HC is the center of the program, not the AD, not the assistant coaches.

    Performance does not equal 15-43. That is a baseball batting average.

    I will agree on a stadium closer to campus, but it's not the main factor. I also do not agree that "if you build it, they will come." Because a city wants WINNERS. At the end of the day, to the community, it's the WIN that matters 99% of the time. Donors will donate if they see winners! Even as an alumni, I would not want to give money to a football program lower than an even win/loss ratio.

  36. The coaching staff time and time again failed on the field. Utah was trying to give the game to the Rebels this year, but the coaching staff was so inept that it handed the game right back. Play calling and decision making were a joke. Teach players how to tackle. Teach players how to cover a receiver late in a game when you are trying to upset a ranked team. Teach players not to think you can show up in Laramie and be handed a "W".

  37. There is nothing that can be done in the short term about our obvious lack of resources. What we can do though is hire a coach who is great at X and Os has tenacity. Someone who is a proven winner as a HEAD Coach and not just as an assistant. That person is:


    He is 76-16 as a head coach, only 45 years old, has experience coaching and recruiting at Washington, Colorado, and UCLA. In fact, he was rumored for both the Washington and UCLA jobs. Sooner or later someone is going to step-up and grab this guy ala Jim Tressell.

    Please please go get this man...

    (my apologies for posting this in multiple areas but we NEED to get this hire in motion -- I'm tired of having a terrible football program)

  38. 1. The reason that UNR makes it bowl games is becuase they are in the worst conference in the nation.
    2. UNLV's fans are the worst and have no loyalty. Y'all just want to win and not give any support when things arn't going the way you like it.
    3. Facilities are very important to recruiting. When players see a nice weight room or locker room it really affects their decision.
    4. Everyone completely ripping this guy should get off their butt and mabey go to a game and support the football program rather then thinking it might just become a BCS buster overnight.

  39. @ jetrebel
    1. Agreed, but the fact they destroyed UNLV makes the MWC look better?
    2. Agreed. It saddens me when I walk around campus or go to games (BYU), and I see more merchandise from other universities than I do UNLV. This is also because UNLV is a outsourcing school getting kids from all over the nation/international.
    3. I don't completely agree because would you rather go to a school with a winning team but poor facilities or a losing team with new facilities? I'll go for the winners.
    4. I went to my fair share of games over the past 5 years I have been at UNLV, and it hasn't been pretty at all.

  40. Oh most students do attend games and thats good. The thing that bothers me is that at the CSU game the student section was about half full and seeing that the university has more than 15 thousand undergrad students it is kind of sad. When losing teams actually build new facilities it shows the recruits that the university has their back. I dont really know of a real "winning" program that has as bad of facilities as UNLV. So the point you make on that is not valid. There are always going to be calls that a coach makes that people dont agree with. If it is doesnt work than the call is horrible but if it works its a stroke of genius. Doesnt make sense.

  41. I totally disagree with any of the people in this comment thread that are supporting Sanford and saying that he has any valid points. Its classic denial how he unloads on UNLV, the facilities, the Community and the state of Nevada in his exit interview. If he was going to get any traction with these points he should have done it when he was the head coach not the ex-head coach. No, instead he waits until his tenure is over to dump all over these things and deflect the blame when we all know that none of this matters. If anyone has been going to these games in the last few years (like many fans have) they know becasue they see it with their eyes. UNLV football is in total disarray on the field. Weak play calling and weak execution equals the record that you got Sanford. Show some class and own your record instead of denying it.

  42. Did Sanford at any point reach out to the community and express his facility concerns before he was fired? I would think after the end of a disappointing 1st year besides recruiting you would start establishing a relationship to your donors and potential donors to make these facility changes possible by the 4th year of his coaching career instead of using them as an excuse in his firing in the 5th year.

  43. @ Fake

    What's wrong with hiring Jim Fassel?

  44. Gee, I'm relieved to hear that the reason we're so bad is because we've got the worst locker room in college football. I think we can fix that. I was worried the problem was something much more serious, like maybe that we had a really crummy coach.

  45. Boise State became a national power with:

    No indoor practice facility
    A stadium with a track around it without any luxury boxes and a horrible press box.

    They won.
    Now they have an indoor practice facility.
    Have luxury boxes and new press box

    Still have a track around their 32,000 seat stadium.

    Idaho is going to a bowl game with even worse facilities. Rutgers did not have these facilities and they won. Now they have them.

    So if we had more money - Sanford still would not have made good Coordinator hires.

    He still would have missed recruitable athletes in Las Vegas.

    The guy goes to the same Vons that I do. No one talks to him - let alone even recognize him.

    He did very little to get out in Las Vegas, so why would any Donor want to hand $$ out to him. Last year's All Star banquet at Big Dogs - he has Cink go to the event. While the Head Coach of Utah is at the restaurant being able to show his interest in local kids.

    Get a Coach who knows how to win, get a community excited and someone who will be committed to keeping Vegas kids home. The locker room will be rebuilt, new features added and other practice facilities will then come.

    If you thought that Hamrick was lost as AD in raising money, just look at how Sanford acted. So far we have seen a new UNLV President come out to the business community, which had not been done in ages. Look at the comments in the Business Press this week and note how Business Leaders responded. Hamrick and Sanford never did this.

    In looking at how UNLV media partners jumped on the side of Sanford yesterday. After listening to ESPN 1100 talk about it for only 5 minutes yesterday during drive time and how Channel 8 agreed with Sanford - who in their right mind wants to back this program when even their media partners dont talk about performance. These media partners have been cleaning UNLV's Athletic messes, while at the same time supporting BYU by airing every highlite that they can. Longtimers could only wish that Ron Futrell would still be doing sports to provide some honest reporting. Vegas sports fans are a little more sophisticated not to listen to this coverage not to know that these stations dont want to upset UNLV and the $$ that they give to their companies.

    Look at the comments on this board and someone from UNLV needs to pay attention to how local fans feel about this subject. That is why we need someone from out of market to come in as the new AD. Rebel Hoops had Gondo - long time Rebel and now Robert Smith - longtime Rebel representing the program. UNLV Football - BYU Alumni President and Colorado player. Where are the UNLV Alums or UNLV Football Connections in representing their program?

    Money will come with leadership who provides a plan coming from someone who knows what they are talking about and actually wants to work at getting locals excited.

    Our next Coach should not be going into his local Vons - not talk to anyone and not be recognized.

  46. Coach Sanford, before you blame anyone else blame the person you see in the mirror for your own actions. Yes Boyd Stadium is not the best, but it is far from the worse. You had support of the alumni until you lost them with not firing your offensive coach & other numerous terrible decisions. You've even lost more respect when you didn't bow out gracefully and made this 28 minute tirade press conference. Man up when you end up in another school, you might even do better because of it.

  47. The best thing that can happen for the football program is for the basketball program to start bringing in lots of revenue. If basketball starts winning again there will be a lot more dough to go around and maybe then they can improve football facilities.
    Hiring a football coach that can win with less talent would help also. They need a win at all costs mentality... go for it on 4th and 2 from your own 28 yard line, run the option ( a la Kantowski), and throw out a few fake fg to fake punt to touchdown like plays (a la the Redskins this past weekend).
    Las Vegas as a whole only gets behind winners. Its a bit of a fair weather town and if a coach is able to win then the support will surely follow no matter where the stadium is located.

  48. Sanford makes a lot of good points. But, the fact that he takes no ownership of this team's problems shows he has no class.

    What a bum.

  49. I thought that it was pretty funny to point the blame at everyone or thing but himself. I also got a big kick out of him saying that if TCU can do it so can UNLV...he must not realize that TCU is 30 minutes from Dallas and they actually recruit the kids in Fort Worth. The stadium issue matters, but they have to do a better job of getting local players to stay home...they should at least make the effort.

  50. When I was recruited to UNLV to play football in the late 70's, the facilities were very impressive to me coming from a small high school. I was recruited by several other schools. The main thing that drew me to UNLV was the personality of the players and the coaches. Back in those days facilities did not matter much. I realize they may now to a few recruits but I still believe it comes down to the way the players and coaches present themselves to the player being recruited. I see a long road ahead for the University in trying to bring the program back. How sad the fans don't support their home town school. I guarantee you the recruits will see that!!

  51. Forget about Sanford. It's time to move forward.

    Check out this site:

    The coaches named are interesting but, the salary mentioned is even better.

  52. http://www.footballscoop.com/?cat=24

    This is a much more reliable site. The one you posted above is GARBAGE.

  53. Ty Willingham? My God what would UNLV even be thinking by hiring a guy who destroyed the Washington program! He never recruited Vegas - a horrible hire. Closed practices, never invited Alums back, people HATE him in Seattle. He can go to Portland State instead.

    It is interesting about Hawkins at Colorado. He has to be considered a front runner. The guy took Boise to the next level for Chris Peterson to walk right into.

    Can not believe any of the Steve Johns support as being real.

    Gus Malzhan not a candidate would be a crime. The guy knows how to Coach and brings a REAL offensive scheme.

    Robb Akey at Idaho recruits Vegas now and is a real high energy D Coordinator. His Wazzu defenses were really good during their Rose Bowl runs.
    Butch Jones would be a great get.
    Koetter would be a great get - however he is not overly dynamic in the personality department.
    Pat Hill recruits Vegas and if Fresno does not want him -I would be more than happy to see him toughen up this team and make them competitive right away. The guy also recruits Nevada really well. Ben Jacobs of Silverado would have been a nice LB for UNLV if Sanford ever made an effort. Hill snagged him instead and he started as a Freshman.
    Brett Venables of Oklahoma is an interesting name and knows Vegas talent.
    Spike Dykes of Arizona should be considered as well - gets Antolin and Criner away from Vegas and knows how to put together a real offense.
    Nick Holt is making $900,000 as a Coordinator at Washington. He is a great motivator, but his stint at Idaho was horrible and led to no results. He is not leaving UW this soon.

    At the end of the day - we need a proven Head Coach to inspire changes that are needed. We can rebuild a locker room at Sam Boyd in a matter of months, that is not in surmountable.

    Hawkins would get people excited, as would Hill if Fresno really wants to see him go. Hawkins can recruit and if he actually got a QB for the Buffs instead of giving his undersized kid the shot - this team could have done much better. His top recruit at RB left Colorado and is open at this moment. Dont know if Hawkins could bring him into the fold. You would not have a Coach who would not get people excited if you hired Hawkins that is for sure.

    I dont see a Coordinator coming to Vegas to make these changes happen - with Chuck Long failing at SDSU and Sanford not able to Coach at UNLV.

    Interesting sites - Koloskie is getting the AD job on one of them is a real reach. Question remains - even if Stallworth got the job - who does he really know in College Sports to make this hire at this moment? Honestly, he has been away from the Football side of College Sports so long - I dont think he has the connections to make this hire. And if these sites are remotely correct that Boosters would support Johns as a candidate - boy are we in trouble.

  54. Make hime the AD, he knows what needs fixing.

    On the other hand, what does all this whining have to do with inability to win on the road?

  55. There are a lot of things wrong with rebel football but the most obvious is the play on the field and that is what must be fixed first. There is no way the university is going to hire a coordinator, this time around they are going to hire a seasoned current or former HC. I heard on 1100AM from Mitch Kelley who is really close to the Nevada Board of Regents and according to his sources UNLV is going to pay out starting at $750,000 and upwards for the next HC & $200,000 for coordinators. He said this will be much more attractive to lure someone with HC experience. Here are the names he mentioned: Turner Gill (Buffalo), Dick Koetter (Jaguars), Dan Hankins (Colorado), Pat Hill (Fresno), & even Rich Rodriguez (Michigan) who he said might be out at Michigan after 2 seasons. If there were even a sliver of a chance that Rodriguez is going to be out at Michigan I would be on him immediately the info leaked out. He is a spread offense genius, imamgine what he could do with this group of current players? We'll see what happens.

  56. While the problem is not just Sanford, he needs to step up and accept some of the responsibility for this dismal performance under his tenure

  57. To all Rebel Fans,

    The facilities made my record 15-43. The facilities were so bad that it rubbed off on our defense and they couldn't tackle. The facilities were so bad that they caused me to have mental lapses in crucial times every game and I forgot where I was, what down it was, where the ball was spotted, and what plays to run throughout the whole game. Things are so bad I was forced to recruit players that quit and give up just like the administration and the fans, I mean what do you expect me to do? 15-43 is not my fault, the environment around me made me do it.

    Warmest Regards,
    Mike Sanford