Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 | 10:58 a.m.
Ray Brewer, Mike Grimala and Case Keefer dip in both football and basketball off of UNLV's best week of the year. The Rebels are rolling in basketball going into a potentially massive showdown with Cincinnati, and enlivened by upsetting UNR to win back the Fremont Cannon in football.
Tony Sanchez’s time on the hot seat came to a temporary end today, as UNLV athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois issued a statement confirming that Sanchez will return to coach the Rebels for the 2019 season.
The full statement:
“After evaluating the UNLV football program with Acting President Marta Meana, Coach Tony Sanchez will return for a fifth year to lead the Rebels. We are looking forward to a successful 2019 football season including bowl eligibility, continued improvement in the classroom, and as always, a positive student-athlete experience. We have invested more resources than ever into the Rebel football program and will continue exploring every avenue to enable it to be competitive.”
UNLV underperformed its goal of reaching a bowl game in 2018, posting a 4-8 record in Sanchez’s fourth year in charge, and that led to much speculation as to whether Reed-Francois would make a move to replace him. Reed-Francois did not hire Sanchez, as she inherited his contract when she became AD in June 2017.
The reprieve may be short-lived. Wording of the statement implies that it truly will be bowl or bust in 2019, and if Sanchez fails to get the Rebels into postseason play, he’ll be gone, even though his contract runs through the 2021 season.
The Rebels would have to go 6-6 to be eligible for bowl play, but they’d need a 7-5 mark to guarantee it. UNLV has gone 16-32 in four years under Sanchez.
UNLV should be well positioned for a bowl run next season. The team will lose running back Lexington Thomas, the school’s all-time leader in touchdowns, but most of the other offensive starters will return. The team figures to be built around rising junior quarterback Armani Rogers, who accounted for all five UNLV touchdowns in the Rebels’ win over UNR on Saturday.