UNLV WR Phillip Payne to serve suspension for disciplinary reasons

Standout receiver left home from West Virginia trip following Twitter remarks on Wednesday afternoon


Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV wide receiver Phillip Payne reaches for an Omar Clayton pass against BYU on Oct. 10, 2009, at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Updated Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 | 3:02 p.m.

The UNLV football team took off on a five-hour flight to Pennsylvania on Thursday morning without arguably its best player on board.

Due to disciplinary reasons, junior receiver Phillip Payne was left off the trip and will serve a suspension handed down by first-year coach Bobby Hauck.

UNLV (1-4) takes on Big East powerhouse West Virginia (3-1) at 12:30 p.m. Las Vegas time Saturday in Morgantown, W.V.

The punishment stems from disparaging remarks made by the Las Vegas native and Western High grad on his Twitter page Wednesday afternoon. He could be back on the field next Saturday when the Rebels travel again, facing Colorado State (1-4) at 11 a.m., but at the moment, no length for the suspension has been set.

Payne was a preseason All-Mountain West Conference selection at wide receiver and has enjoyed a strong stretch of late following a slow start.

He is tied for the team lead with 23 catches and leads the Rebels with 389 receiving yards. His two touchdown catches are second on the squad behind fellow junior Michael Johnson.

Last Saturday, in a 44-26 home loss to rival Nevada-Reno, Payne caught eight passes for a career-high 170 yards.

In his first two seasons playing for his hometown school, the 6-foot-3 Payne established himself as one of the nation's most dangerous red zone threats, catching 14 touchdown passes over 21 games in that stretch. That included one of the more memorable plays in UNLV history, as he made an acrobatic one-handed TD grab late in the fourth quarter to help the Rebels knock off then-No. 15 Arizona State on the road, 23-20, on Sept. 13, 2008.

He was recruited to the program by former head coach Mike Sanford, who saw him as a strong fit in his shotgun spread offense. Still, Payne has hardly disappeared under the new regime, which is employing a more balanced offensive approach between the pass and run.

For full pre-game, in-game and post-game coverage of Saturday's matinee at West Virginia, stay tuned to

Update, 3:02 p.m.

The Sun reported on Thursday morning that Payne's suspension was for one game, though no concrete length of the suspension has been determined. All that is known is that Payne is out for at least Saturday's game West Virginia.

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  1. Soo....what was said?

  2. Payne is probably disgruntled and wondering why the new staff won't ever throw him a fade in the red zone. That play has seen about a 95% success rate the past two years and has produced TD after TD.

    If I had Twitter I'd write something like "Throw it to Payne in the end zone!" Then I'd add something like, "For crying out loud!"... just for extra emphasis. :)

    But seriously, they need to throw to Payne in the red zone. Nobody has ever been able to stop that play, except our own coaches.

  3. Hauck was actually asked that on Game Time. That was the email question of the week. Chris Matthews added that it seems almost automatic, and Hauck scoffed at that, and said it's far from automatic, and they DO throw it to Payne down there.

    I would love to know exactly what Payne tweeted. At some point, hopefully these athletes will think before tweeting. It's one thing to think it (whatever he said); it's another thing to put it out there for the world to see.

  4. I'd like to know what he tweeted, too. A bad tweet equals a one-game suspension for Phillip Payne against a tough FBS team, and Tre'Von's misdemeanor for battery-domestic violence equals a three-game suspension against two division-2 teams and a new division-1 team. It must be a really bad tweet.

  5. Teach5, good point... the disciplinary action is about the same.

    Committing a misdemeanor for battery-domestic violence = suspension for about 8-9% of season (assuming the play some post season).

    Writing a boneheaded tweet ALSO = suspension about 8% of season.

  6. @ teach, it's becoming common practice for coaches lately to ban twitter. (reference:

    Basically if a player says anything that could be harmful to the program or the university in any way, it will be policed.

    I think it's becoming a way for players to stay focused now-a-days. Just keep your heads down and your mouths shut, basically.

  7. Larry Johnson's tweet last year cost him a starting NFL gig. A one game suspension is nothing.

    Hauck seems to have a pretty good relationship with his players, but his yanking of Michael Johnson against Wisconsin proves he means business, even if it costs the team short term. (And Michael Johnson has really seemed to get the message.)

  8. I wonder why Hauck feels scoring a TD 14 out of 15 tries with the fade to Payne is "far from automatic"? I think for a while UNLV even led the nation for scoring TDs in the red zone when they used that fade play. We were using it almost every time we got to the red zone.

    If I was Chris Matthews I think I would have scoffed right back and said, "No coach, I'm pretty sure... it almost seems automatic."

  9. I don't care so much if Hauck relies on the fade, but I would like to at least know if it's still in our play book, as a possible option. Especially when so often the coaches choose to run with Trotter inside the 10-yard line and get repeatedly stuffed. Talk about something "far from automatic..."

  10. Where did you get that 14 out of 15 stat?

    Hauck seems intent on building a ground game at UNLV, and unfortunately, that takes time and patience. In the short term, that probably means calling some less than optimal plays. Establishing a run mentality is something that you just have to keep hammering away at.

    That said, I'm as frustrated as the next fan with a lot of the playcalling. I just hope it pays off in the long run (no pun intended).

    (BTW, it's Chris Maathuis - my bad.)

  11. I got that stat from watching the games mostly. :)

    It's unfortunate, because Hauck has a very real asset in the red zone with Phillip Payne. Imo, Hauck under-appreciates that way too much. The goal of every coach once in the red zone is to score, and all I know is nobody has yet to show they can stop the fade to Payne in the end zone.

    I wouldn't limit it to just the red zone either. Almost anytime I saw Payne with single coverage I'd air him a deep fade. Have your playmakers make plays and move the chains. The kid can beat out almost anyone. He's proven that. It would be nice to stretch the field a little and force some double-coverage.

    I admit I'm glad to see Hauck trying to establish a run threat. We need one. But I wish he would try to establish it with somebody other than Trotter.

  12. @Sofakingbored: Thanks for the reference--very interesting. So is facebook something that is "policed" also? Personal websites (blogs)? I am assuming it's the fact that whatever they write can be viewed by a massive amount of people. I think protecting the university's and team's images is a good idea. Perhaps publicly complaining that they aren't getting enough playing time or they aren't practicing a certain route or play enough could be beneficial for the opposition.

    @Tarkus: I agree. So far, he seems to mean business. I think it's a great start. Yes, it is very frustrating (especially when my seats are somewhat close to the visitors section), but I think he's building a solid foundation. Hauck is running his program. He just doesn't have the players that fit it yet. I truly think that we will have a program to be proud of. Yes, it'll be a run game, not flashy (opposite of what June Jones does with the teams he saves with the Run 'n' Shoot), but it'll be sound. After all, we are "runnin'" rebels.

  13. Facebook is policed heavily by the university. No alcohol, no swearing, nothing demeaning in any terms that can get back to the school. They all have a part of the university athletic department (I forget the name) as a friend so the school can watch over what is happening quickly and easily.

  14. Does no one here subscribe to Payne on Twitter? I would still like to know what he said. The other paper said there was speculation it was something negative toward the coaching staff. That would be odd, considering he's coming off a career game.

  15. This is pretty concerning. Phil and Sanford were very close. He often referred to Sanford as a second father. Which means quite a bit since he lost his father shortly after signing his letter of intent to play for UNLV. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him request to transfer at the end of the season. I'm sure Sanford would love to have him at Louisville, even if it is two years from now and it's only for one season. Watch this relationship between Phillip and Hauck closely. We could lose our best offensive threat before this season ends.

  16. I'm sure it wouldn't take much convincing from Sanford to get Phil to buy into the idea of making a better name for himself for the NFL as a reciever in a wide open offense at Louisville rather than in a fledging run based attack at UNLV.

  17. According to the LVRJ, he said bad things about coach Hauk on his twitter account.

  18. Comment removed by moderator. Comment was in all caps.

  19. Comment removed by moderator. Comment was in all caps.

  20. Rebel mal-practice doc...where and why you hating on TROTTER. He is money inside the 20. Check the stats, ask the the coach of West Virginia, check the film. They thought Cox was gonna be the man? Missed it! You can't be a doctor, perhaps you play one on tv?

  21. for all of you who want to know what he said, you will find it on the RJ. that was bad by payne, im suprised it was not a more severe punishment. not to mention he was talking out of his......

    no way his statement is true.

  22. DocRebel-
    I totally agree with you on anyone being the feature back but Trotter. He doesn't hit the whole hard. Likes to dance around. Would much rather see Randle, Cornett, and even Purvis get the bulk of the carries. Trotter is averaging 3.2 yards/carry. Has 1 touchdown in 48 carries, and a long of 16 yards. I wouldn't call 1 touchdown being money inside the 20 either.
    As for Phillip...1 step forward and 2 steps back. This is the performance you follow up your career game with? Come on man. Your team needs you. I agree that they need to throw him the fade in the red zone. Be a team player.

  23. Thanks, sportsguy702.

    If the other paper is right, that was extremely dumb of Payne to say. Not just because he's wrong, but more importantly, you just don't say that in public. And coming off a career performance? Just really dumb.

  24. Catdaddy, how many times did UNR stuff Trotter inside the 10 last week. Every time. He tip toes and gets smashed. My question for you is, what has Trotter done all season? Nothing.

    Bradley Randle, for example, on his ONLY series in the red zone last week, punched it right in for the score while running over guys.

    Cornett has had the fewest carries and has already busted a 30-yarder against Wisconsin, a 40-yarder TD against New Mexico, and he had a 58-yarder return against UNR last week. He averages over 6 yards/carry.

    Again, I'm all about estblishing a run game. But Trotter is not cutting it (for 5 games now). Meanwhile, our younger backs are producing plays.

  25. Doc,
    You ever consider that Hauck might be riding the senior RB in order to keep the young guys healthy for next year? The running game needs better blocking before the back will make a difference anyways. If you watch the film of the UNR game you'll see our o-line get dominated all night. Even Adrian Peterson would have a tough time gaining yards when there are constantly 2 guys in the running lane when he gets to the line. We have a couple good o-line recruits that are redshirted so it will be interesting to see how the run game is improved next year.

    By the way, I think all 3 RBs had less then 2 ypc against UNR last week so I don't think it was all trotter's fault. I challenge you to re-watch some of these games and focus on the linemen on both side of the ball.. I think you'll gain a good understanding of why the team is struggling.

  26. UNLV-123, I see. So we keep our better players on the sideline so they don't get hurt. Oh ok. Silly me.

  27. One reason Trotter is in the backfield so much is due to his skills on pass protection and picking up the blitz. Bottom line, until UNLV gets better O-Line and D-Line they will struggle to win games.

  28. From game 1 I have mentioned on both sides of the ball, our linemen are not doing even a decent job. It is the most outstanding issue, as they are the core of every play.

  29. THANK YOU!!!

  30. No it's ok, I get it now...

    Winning is besides the point, as long as we're healthy. That also explains why UNLV's injury report is so long... because we're fielding our worst players. No way are we gonna stick our good players out there. They might get hurt too!!

  31. Doc,
    In your mind, as an ignorant fan, the most important thing is to win every single game. That's the point right? So, what do you do if you're in your first year with a notoriously horrible program, and it's your job to turn the program around? Well the easiest way is to do what you suggest, win the games. So what do you do when you realize you're not going to win many games with the players you've got and without your systems completely implemented? You'd do what Hauck is doing. You'd start working towards the future and using the games this year to gain experience, continue implementing new systems, giving young players gametime bur also keeping then healthy. The turnaround will take a few years, so you may want to come back in 2012.

    That being said, I'd say Hauck did what he could to win the UNR game because it was a huge rivalry game. You complain about trottter being in the game, but ad others have said, hes the best pass blocking back we've got. Considering we couldn't stop UNRs offense they had to pass early and often. That's why he saw most of the snaps.

    Your sarcasm is cute though. :). It really reaffirms your ignorance of anything related to football.

  32. UNLV-123,
    "You Cannot Be Serious"

    Comparing Channing Trotter to Adrian Peterson?

    Peterson set the NCAA freshman rushing record with 1,925 yards in his '04 performance that included three +200 yard games and 15 Touchdowns.

  33. UNLV-123,

    I'll simply:

    I think Randle and Cornett are both better than Trotter and should get more reps (pass blocking and running). This opinion is independent of the realization that our O-line sucks. If you can show me ANYWHERE where Hauck ever said he's not playing the younger freshmen as an injury precaution, then maybe you won't sound so ridiculous in my eyes.

    And even IF you can show me that is the reason Trotter is in the bulk of game (which you can't), my opinion STILL is that Randle and Cornett should be in the game more.

    I grew up in football family full of players and coaches so spare me the "you know everything" and "I'm all ignorant" nonsense.

    It doesn't matter to me if you agree with me or not. It's just funny to see you pretend you know why Hauck is or isn't doing something. If Trotter is such a superior pass blocker as you "know," then why is Clayton running for his life almost every time he drops back?


    PS - Everyone knows it'll take a couple of years to turn the program around. No disagreement there.

    Like I said, you don't have to agree. The stats do support my opinion, however.

  34. Hauck did the right thing. No matter how much most of us sympathize with Payne's frustrations Hauck cannot tolerate public insubordination like that. Go to Hauck's office and express yourself there...not on Twitter. Payne must have learned his PR skills from Sanford. lol!

    I agree with most that the play calling is too conservative. I especially dont like how we dont seem eager to keep the initiative after our D creates momentum for us (atleast we can say that this yr!). We squander it running it up the gut losing yardage or barely gaining anything. I'd like to see us use the pass to establish the run for once too...dink and dunk it THEN start running the ball. As is we are pretty predictable right now doing it the other way.

    But I also understand why we are running it so burn clock & shorten the game in order to protect our D. Both pro and con arguments for that philosophy have its really a tough call. I'd just like to see our offensive playcalling take a "cup half full" approach when the situation dictates just after scoring & then picking off Reno in a 14-14 game. But we run it up the gut twice. Try and win the game! I think that is where Payne's frustrations are based because the coaches are preaching effort & selling out....but the playcalling doesnt always live up to that belief standard either.

  35. Doc,
    I don't know if Hauck is saving the guys for next year or not, I just said it's something worth considering.

    I agree with you that Randall is tougher and Cornett might be more explosive than Trotter, but it's possible the coaches see Trotter as the best complete back they have. Trotter stutter steps every time he gets the ball, which may be due to poor blocking in front of him, but it's not a good way to start from the shotgun because you're already basically standing still already. As stated before though, if having Trotter in the game is the best way to give the QB a chance on passing plays then that's what we have to do.

    So many people will see the RB getting stopped near the line and say "that RB sucks" or see the QB throwing incomplete passes or getting sacked and say "the QB sucks", but in order to really judge the quality of a football player you have to take all the factors into consideration.

    Take a look again at the rushing statistics from the UNR game:

    Trotter: 12 carries for 19 yards (1.6 avg)
    Cornett: 7 carries for 9 yards (1.3 avg)
    Randall: 3 carries for 4 yards (1.3 avg)

    Can we really just put the lack of run production on Trotter?

  36. I put the lack of production on the O-line. It's really difficult to run when you have opposing team members in your backfield every play, and no gaps to run through.

  37. Hey DocRebel...the reason that Clayton is on the injured list is because Randle got him there w/ a missed assignment. Went the wrong way. That also is the reason I bet, why he didn't play much. I try to school folks that running the ball is just one aspect of playing tailback. And no one is doing squat w/ that o-line. Listen to UNLV-123,and everyone else, and get rid of the tunnel vision, get a clue. Complete back!

  38. He's such a complete back huh? Interesting that he lost his starting job in the spring and was behind CJ Cox and Randle the entire fall camp. Then mysteriously is named the starter for the Wisco game. I like Channing Trotter alot. But he is not the most complete back. And he is not the future. We are going to be in an interesting situation soon, once we are mathematically eliminated from bowl contention. Does he go to the young guys? Does he go to Caleb? Does he ride it out with the seniors? Does he start replacing Evan Marchal, WHO HAS BEEN AN ABSOLUTE JOKE AT RIGHT TACKLE!!!!! And there were murmors about this guy being a possible NFL prospect.....JEEZ! I wonder when/if we will see the youth movement so he can see what he has to work with at actual game speed. We will find out soon enough.

  39. AJ_C.. who do you like? The often injured Cox, the wrong way Randle or the up and coming yet to be seasoned Cornett? These coaches like mis-direction. I promise you that what was reported(in camp), did not line up w/ the end result. He was not the starter last year for naught. But you too get an A+++ for knowing that Trotter is not the future. Wow he is a senior!!

  40. catdaddy, sorry I don't get as excited as you over a RB who is unable to run more than two yards. Have fun with that.

  41. sounds like trash talk to me; kid must be getting his pointers from the basketball team.