If the Rebels can’t win this one …

Coach Sanford can’t possibly stay at UNLV, unless he can


Justin M. Bowen

UNLV Rebels coach Mike Sanford shows frustration late in the team’s losing effort against BYU two weeks ago.

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Beyond the Sun

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.

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  1. The Rebels chances do not look good considering that they are 0-17 in MWC Road games under Sanford.

    Sanford on suicide watch? Not quite yet but he might just be if the Rebels lose on Saturday at winless New Mexico.

  2. Ron, what happened last season against a 2-10 team in an empty stadium with a bowl berth on the line?

    Yep, we know how this "must win" game is going to turn out.

  3. Must win game?? That has been every game since the loss to a first year head coached, true freshman ran Wyo team. Sanford just can't get it together and he should return to LV to just pack his bags if he coaches the team to another defeat!

  4. I already told everybody that UNM is going to punk the heartless rebels in this game. Do you think that UNM wants to be the team that has UNLV's 20 conference game road losing streak broken on them in their yard?

    All the Lobos have to do to win this game is play with heart and they will win!!

    (Picture Above) Waaaahhhhh, waaahhhh, waahhhhh, after UNLV's botched fake field goal.
    (Coach Sanford): Here's the play boys this will fool'em - Triple reverse, double option, half back pass, to the 4th string tight end who has never even caught a pass in practice on 4.

  5. I don't care if we blow out NM, Sanford has used up his eligibility here. We should beat NM and SDSU. We have never beat AirForce and we should. I am looking forward to beating the TCU and the BYU of the league. The only thing that will get us at that level is a new coach. The sooner the better.

  6. It is time to drop all UNLV interscholastic sports. Too expensive, counterproductive to the goals and purpose of higher education plus all of the time, energy and effort that goes into recruiting jocks that can't really perform academically.

    How many students out of the total student body benefit by physical participation in team sports? a handfull. How many could and would benefit in a campus intramural sports program involving all sport venues from gymnastics to skiing? far more than in the current situation.

  7. This column sounds a lot like that "must beat bad Wyoming team" column from a few weeks ago...

    I agree that fake field goal attempt was the epitome of bad coaching. They would have only been down by 10 points had they made the 3...

    NEVER beating in-state rival Reno in 5 attempts is grounds enough for firing.

    Nice-guy Sanford has to go....

  8. I truly hope this game is not an embarrasment to the program. As, unfortunately, i think it will be. Peace out......

  9. It was "do or die" against Wyoming.
    It became "do or be fired immediately" against UNR.
    It was "you can't do" against BYU.
    It was "what are you still doing here" against Utah
    It is now just plain stupid.
    More basketball columns please.

  10. At least incoming UNLV students still can't read.

  11. "If the Rebels can't beat a winless, coach-less team, then the new kids on the block will have to act."

    We're the college football equivalent of the Washington Redskins right now. All we're missing is a Daniel Synder to call John Robinson out of retirement to call plays for Sanford for the rest of the season.

    The Skins have managed to lose 3 of 5 against winless teams this season. I'm confident the Rebels can post an 0-1 against the winless.

    Smart money says follow the smart money that bet this one down from UNLV - 3 to UNLV +1.

    Then again, given the level of interest in Rebel football, your $20 teaser on the Lobos was probably all it took to move the line 4 points in their favor, Ron!

  12. Who really cares anymore? I just come on here to mock this rebels team and coaching staff at this point. Sanford has succeeded in making me a disinfranchised fan of a program that I though was up and coming, boy was I wrong. It cant get any lower then it already is - Oh wait it can, they lose the rest of their games and nothing happens to Sanford - Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!

  13. This is getting ridiculous. The media keeps moving the bar back every week. Each new game you guys provide Sanford with a new 'opportunity' to produce something he hasn't been able to in almost 5-years. I thought Wyoming was the last straw? Then it was BYU, Then it was Utah. Now it's a winless, coachless UNM squad.

    UNLV does not have big money boosters to twist the admin's arms like a traditional school...thus you guys in the local media are the only ones that can put the pressure on the administration to wake up from their coma and prove they have a pulse.

    We need to start seeing the local media putting Koloskie and Neal S. on the spot, no bs softball questions anymore, no more letting them skate with garbage cliche answers.

    The story is not even about Sanford anymore really...we all know he's terrible, that story is old news. The real story is, why is he still around and what in the hell is going on over there at 89154?

  14. If you are a talented West Coast high school football player and you are heavily recruited by these programs.....


    These schools have great alumni support, excellent athletic facilities and current or past success on the football field.

    What is the big appeal, incentive or selling point to come to UNLV?
    I would like to see UNLV football succeed!

    Can anyone give a honest direct answers and solutions to solve UNLV's football problems that goes beyond firing the coach?

  15. I keep hoping I'll wake up and find Bobby Ewing alive and well in my shower (preferably with a bathing suit on) and he'll tell me the last five seasons under Mike Sanford were all just a bad dream. The real nightmare, unfortunately, might be the Rebels pulling off a win at University Stadium, snapping their losing streak, and providing the President, Interim AD, and Regents just enough yellow paint for their bellies to keep from pulling the trigger on this guy. A scary thought, but then again, it is close to Halloween.

  16. I always go to the Alumni tailgate at Sam Boyd, when the season started Pres. Smatresk would stop by each table and engage in friendly banter, normally the process would take about an hour or so.

    At the Utah game he moved through the Alumni tailgate like Usain Bolt going for the Gold. 9 flat.

    He's feeling the heat alright, but is it a low simmer when it should be a rolling boil.

  17. Let's do all we can to promote big time athletics at UNLV. Revise the glory days of Jerry Tarkanian's Runnin' Rebels in basketball; extend it to football. Yes, we need more of the 'scholar athletes' of those days were some jocks admitted as viable college students could not read a primary grade book like, "Dick & Jane" , write a complete sentence nor speak understandable English without uttering several phrases of, "you know, man!..." Some of these athletic prizes may have accomplish much on the field of battle but accomplished nothing of note in academic classrooms. The graduation rates at that time were absolutely embarrassing and inexcusable.

    This era from the nightmare past of UNLV is still an embarrassment to anyone who has ever earned a college degree through academic endeavor and study. UNLV gained the reputation of being a 'Mickey Mouse School' where jocks could go to play ball without all of the hassles of real academic standards for a college diploma. With such a reputation, a college degree was demeaned, degraded and disgraced for the sake of big time athletics.

    Throughout the nation UNLV is still regarded as something of an aberration as a University; not very strong and not very noteworthy academically speaking. Unfortunately, the "Mickey Mouse School" handle is still regarded as true in some education circles of this nation.

    Frankly, it sickens me to think of the stink and rot of corruption that prevailed for so many seasons at UNLV because of the drive to gain national recognition as a basketball powerhouse. There are many responsible for the degradation of UNLV as an up and coming academic institution. The coaches, administrative leaders, alumni supporters and the many financial supporters who backed the admission of academically unqualified individuals who also had questionable backgrounds.

  18. vsestini- Since we are all allowed to write our opinion here, I will cut you some slack. The only thing I really want to say is your comments reflect a bitter person who obviously has a very rotten attitude, and has been scorned in some way by UNLV athletics. You do not think or speak for anyone except yourself. You have not been appointed by a group to do so. So based on this fact you are an idiot for thinking you speak, think, or have any type of a majority opinion based on representation of some primary group.

    In fact waa, waa, waa, waa. That is what I read, when I read your comments. Perhaps less emotiton and a little bit of objectivity here. I graduated from UNLV, I make a lot of money, and I don't judge anyone based on their ability to write or speak your version of the english language. Next time you write something say it is your opinion, not everyone else, because I am embarassed if you speak for me. Thanks.

  19. vsestini, I graduated the year we won the Nat'l Championship........ funny I don't remember one thing you spout off about. As a matter of fact, I was, and am, currently proud to be a UNLV alum.

    Sorry dude.

  20. @vsestini,

    C'mon dog you gotta come betta then that!! Sorry for all the grammatical errors, still learning. If I try hard enuff maybe sumday I will be as smart as you.

  21. TO: go-rebels and getalife: I speak for no one but myself, never have done otherwise. I never once said it was anyone elses opion...LEARN TO READ A BIT MORE CAREFULLY THE ABOVE INPUT. I have never been scorned by UNLV athletics it just that hate Jerry Tarkanian for the phony ___ that he was and still far as I am concerned. That is my opinion and always has been.

    For anyone else think about this: God limited man's intelligence but certainly not their stupidity. Stupidity is rampant in America today because of overemhasis on athletics...

  22. Most geeks that don't like sports don't read the sports section. Which poses the obvious question: Why are you here and why do you comment knowing full well that you have a contentious attitude? Surely you know that you irritate people. Is this your goal in life, to quirrel with those that don't agree with your opinion?

  23. sport fans; sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad; in this case its the bad. as long as the rebels dont fumble or throw any errant passes, i think they got the lobos where they want them. i predict UNLV 3-0 final score( in OT). what say sufferinsucctash?

  24. Vsestini put away your Mom's computor and let real sports fan talk here.

  25. no that college from new mexico is not the worst ncaa football team Temple is

  26. Hire Larry Kehres - if you can't get him then close down the program and phase out the scholarships so other students have a chance.

  27. @kaka702:

    Temple, by the way, is 3-0 in the Mid American Conference and 4-2 overall. New Mexico is now the standard for a poor team.

    And, when we lose to them (which I don't want to happen, but have a hard time believing we won't) that will make us the worse program in Division I.

  28. There are no easy solutions out there, including a new coach. This is just a toxic environment for the program, fans that think it should be the next USC but with facilities and buzz even UNM can beat out. Sad to say but this town's fans are horrible and undeserving of a team, let alone a winner. Even in Wyoming where they have had nothing to cheer about at least everyone doesn't just crap all over the program at every opportunity. As a reward they end up with a decent team every now and then.

  29. UNLV good at; college Rodeo,Golf,Tennis, Professors complaing not enough pay for them teaching 2 classes a week.
    UNLV bad at ; Football, Baseball, Grades,

  30. Since we have decided to have sports at UNLV, I will not waste time talking about abolishing the programs, which obviously is unrealistic. For those who are opposed to traditional athletic programs, we must thank God that we have Webster University, DeVry and The University of Phoenix!
    If we truly want change, then WE (alum, booster's, community backer's, sponsors, and fans) must put pressure on the powers that be. We must first start at the top and work our way down. The Chancellor, President and the Athletic Director should all be feeling very uncomfortable with the direction that the football program is going and they should all have to succumb to that pressure and make an immediate change.
    As a fellow Alum, I demand that this university make galiant efforts in ALL of its endeavors that it embarks upon, which includes academics, athletics, research, community outreach, etc., etc.
    Our football program is currently in shambles, now lets put pressure on those that we pay from the state's coffers to make the RIGHT decision; RIGHT here, RIGHT now!
    We don't have to go back to the Tarkanian style, but I don't think going forward with the Sanford style is the solution either. Let's look at what's working for our competitor's that are nearby and in the same conference; BYU, TCU and Utah, with BYU probably being the best example.
    BYU has a great academic reputation while at the same time fielding very competitive athletic teams in a myriad of different sports year in and year out.
    I think that this is a great model for us to mirror. They are doing an all around great job and doing it within the rules. I think we can be right there getting the best and brightest students from our neighboring states, due to our low cost of tuition, while at the same time luring in great recruits with the possibility of being a part of something great in the near future. This a place where you can shine very easily, outside of the casino's, there is virtually NO competition!
    We must have a President and athletic director that are on the same page with the rest of the community and alumni. We want GREAT academics coupled with GREAT sports, which bring GREAT tradition, PERIOD!
    If BYU, in Provo, Utah can do it, certainly UNLV, in Las Vegas, Nevada, the entertainment capital of the WORLD can do it!