After taking a week off to regroup and perhaps draw up some plays to use in the red zone at Air Force in case Thursday’s game is close at the end, the UNLV football team still has five wins. The Rebels have been stuck on five wins since Oct. 26.
Almost everybody believes it has been a fine season.
That’s one way to look at it. I (mostly) look at it that way.
Another way to look at it is that it has taken Bobby Hauck nearly four years to get the program to where Mike Sanford left it.
Judging from the message boards and NotBeanoCook on Twitter, a lot of people regarded Hauck as some sort of messiah until that last series against Utah State, when wayward forward passes kept fluttering to the field turf in the end zone.
The TV graphic showed three bars under UNLV’s name, a full complement of timeouts. According to NotKirkHerbstreit, the Rebels could have run a draw play or something, and then used one of those timeouts to stop the clock.
A lot of people didn’t think much of that fake field goal in the second quarter, either.
But had it stumped the Aggies, or had one of those wayward, fluttering passes found their mark, we’re not having this conversation. Instead, we’re probably having a conversation about how much money UNLV can afford to lose by playing Disco Tech in the Argyle Sock Bowl.
After the Utah State game, some among the fickle faithful turned on Hauck. A few even starting comparing him to that scoundrel Mike Sanford.
Mike Sanford was the guy who inherited John Robinson’s last team that finished 2-9.
Sanford went 2-9 his first year, 2-10 his second, 2-10 his third. People called for his head. I might have been one of them.
Mike Hamrick, the guy who hired Sanford, said give him time. It takes five years to turn around a program, Hamrick said. Look at Wake Forest.
(That must have been the season when Wake Forest won 11 games. This season, it lost to Louisiana-Monroe.)
Sure enough, the Rebels won five games the next year. They won five the year after that. But they did not sneak into a minor bowl game when Sanford was coach. They did not beat UNR.
Mike Hamrick left for greener pastures, if the pasture around Marshall in Huntington, W. Va., can be considered greener, and then Mike Sanford got himself fired.
Mike and Mike were gone. A lot of people around here were happy.
It was Bobby Hauck who inherited Mike Sanford’s last team that finished 5-7.
Hauck went 2-11 his first year, 2-10 his second, 2-11 his third. People called for his head. I was not among them, because Jim Livengood said these things take time.
So now UNLV is 5-5, and if it can beat one more bad team, it will become bowl eligible. And then there will be bake sales and car washes so the marching band can go to the Argyle Sock Bowl.
As stated, Mike Sanford’s last two teams did not become bowl eligible. They did not beat UNR, because that was when Chris Ault was coaching. But one knocked off No. 15 Arizona State. The Mountain West was much stronger when Sanford was coaching, when Brigham Young and Utah and Texas Christian still were part of it.
The Mountain West pretty much stinks now, except for Fresno State, which is OK but not as good as BYU and Utah and TCU were during Sanford’s day.
The Rebels’ five wins have come against UNR, Central Michigan, New Mexico and Hawaii, which are No. 92, No. 99, No. 107 and No. 117 in the power rankings. UNLV also has beaten Western Illinois, which shouldn’t count, but does.
Mike Sanford’s new team, Indiana State, lost to Western Illinois 21-14 on Saturday. There are pictures from that game on the Internet. You can see a pickup truck parked behind one of the benches, and people watching from lawn chairs.
People complain about Sam Boyd Stadium, but at least you can’t park a pickup truck behind the bench.
After Mike Sanford was fired here, he mostly yammered about the lousy locker rooms at Sam Boyd Stadium, and that probably was not the right time to be yammering about them. And on his first day on the job, he stated with a certain amount of brazenness that the Utah spread offense was his offense, not the offense of his former boss Urban Meyer.
I’m thinking that offense probably was Urban Meyer’s, because whereas Meyer won national championships with it at Florida, and might win another one this year at Ohio State, Sanford now is coaching where it’s OK to park a pickup truck behind the bench.
I’m also thinking that if Bobby Hauck deserves credit for winning five games at UNLV in one season, then Mike Sanford should get some for doing it twice.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski