UNLV football coach Mike Sanford now is under the microscope of the university president's office.
President Neal Smatresk said Monday he was troubled by the state of the program following Saturday's 63-28 loss at the University of Nevada, Reno, in which the Rebels gave up 773 yards.
The Rebels dropped to 2-3 and are 13-39 under Sanford, who is in his fifth season.
"The game was very disappointing," Smatresk said. "We are concerned for our student-athletes, we are concerned for our fans, and we'll be keeping an eye on the situation on a game-to-game basis to see how things go. We're going to be watching."
When contacted, Sanford declined to comment on Smatresk's statement.
Interim athletic director Jerry Koloskie, while reiterating his statement from the weekend that seven games remain, seconded the president's statement.
"If that's what his thoughts are, certainly I concur with that," Koloskie said. "We want to make the best decision for the department and for the university, so we'll have to monitor it week to week and go from there. That's what we do all the time."
Sanford earns $425,000 per season. If the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, fired him before Dec. 4, he would be paid a buyout of $287,500. It would drop to $225,000 afterward.
Sanford signed a three-year extension last year, taking him through the 2012 season.
How UNLV performs in Saturday's 7 p.m. Mountain West Conference game against No. 20 Brigham Young (4-1) at Sam Boyd Stadium could further clarify Sanford's status.
A victory would be a big boost, but a defeat even close to the magnitude of the one at UNR could create more urgency for the administration to take action.
This is considered Sanford's best team, but after a 2-1 start, the Rebels were upset 30-27 at Wyoming, followed by the debacle in Reno.
Three UNR rushers gained at least 170 yards each, with Desert Pines High School graduate Mike Ball picking up 184 yards and five touchdowns. UNLV allowed 559 yards on the ground.
The Rebels are last in the conference in defense, giving up 449 yards per game. Their defense also is last in rushing yards allowed (201.8 yards) and second-to-last in points allowed (30.4).
UNLV recruited hard in the offseason to upgrade the unit, which last season finished eighth in the nine-team conference in total yards (423.2 yards), rushing yards (213.1 yards) and points allowed (32.6 points).
Dennis Therrell has been defensive coordinator both seasons, but Sanford said he didn't see a need to change staff or personnel.
Sanford, however, said he now is more involved in the defensive decisions, though he insisted he has not lost confidence in his coaches.
"I'm not the defensive coordinator, I'm not calling the defenses, but I'm very involved," Sanford said.
"And I'm very involved since Saturday."
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Read the latest UNLV football updates at lvrj.com/blogs/unlv_sports.