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Here’s ‘de plane’ truth: Rebels will go unbeaten

It’s easy to miss Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, the old guy with the white suit and cultured demeanor, standing next to his little friend announcing the arrival of new guests by pointing at, “De Plane!”

So let’s return to Fantasy Island, where dreams come true and the impossible becomes reality. If there is a time for outrageous prophecies to be made about a college football team, it’s before a season’s first snap.

Hence, here are my reasons why UNLV will go undefeated and win the national championship in 2007, perhaps not that big a stretch for head coach Mike Sanford, who undoubtedly has come to expect and appreciate such a positive and rosy outlook from this space.

At Utah State, Aug. 30: Travis Dixon will start at quarterback and Frank Summers at running back for UNLV. It shouldn’t matter if it were Donna Dixon and Andy Summers. Utah State is awful, ranked 114th out of 119 Division I-A teams in one preseason poll. The Aggies are 35-78 over the past 10 years, during which time they have employed four head coaches. This is an automatic W. And if you’re going to remind me UNLV has lost the last two times it visited Logan, well, you’re a terribly bitter and negative individual who obviously can’t see the fun in this.

Wisconsin, Sept. 8: How in the world did Miguel De Cervantes know so much about UNLV football? It was the 16th century Spanish novelist, poet and playwright who said that to be prepared is half the victory.

Your handy little pocket schedule tells you the Rebels have two extra days of preparation for this home opener. Are you kidding me? Sanford with a 48-hour jump on Wisconsin’s coaching staff?

I’ll be surprised if the Badgers show up.

Hawaii, Sept. 15: Colt Brennan might be a Heisman Trophy candidate for the Rainbow Warriors, but it was back in 2004 (when the quarterback was playing for Colorado) that he tossed back one too many cocktails and entered the room of a coed uninvited. Brennan must have thought it was his birthday, because he reportedly showed the young lady his suit, also without being asked.

You have to figure if the guy can discover that much trouble in Boulder, there’s a better-than-even chance he’ll find himself in Pahrump at kickoff. You also have to figure in a program where a former player recently alleged school officials manipulated NCAA drug tests and also made claims about excessive drinking, widespread use of marijuana and sex with groupies, the entire offense will join Brennan.

Utah, Sept. 22: OK, this is just stupid. The Rebels have lost 11 straight to the Utes and have dropped 12 consecutive conference openers. Doesn’t pride have to sneak into the occasion at some point?

At UNR, Sept. 29: All you need to know — starting center Kyle Robertson was dismissed from the Wolf Pack during camp after he attacked an assistant coach who challenged him verbally. Any team that can’t control its players has no chance to defeat the exceptionally unified and cohesive unit that is annually Ely’s finest collection of talent. Get the red paint ready. The Fremont Cannon is due for a new look.

At Air Force, Oct. 6: There’s a hilarious rumor going around that new Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is set to open up the passing game. Words you will never read again: UNLV cornerbacks discover an opponent they can dominate.

Brigham Young, Oct. 13: Someone buys off the chef at BYU’s team hotel, and the Cougars are served a pregame meal of Funeral Potatoes and green Jell-o. Assuming someone has died but unable to determine whom, players become massively depressed and play like it.

Colorado State, Oct. 20: I’m a big Dave Lay fan. Love the guy. Covered him when he was an assistant coach at San Diego State from 1997-01. But he looked 65 back then, so odds are pretty good the CSU co-offensive coordinator will fall asleep before sending in the game’s final play, allowing the clock to run out and UNLV to leave victorious.

At Wyoming, Oct. 27: Another easy one. The Cowboys don’t even think they’re going to be any good, considering it takes 36 pages in the team media guide before you reach a season outlook. But hey, you can read about that 2004 bowl victory on page 16.

OPEN, Nov. 3: No one does BYE like the Rebels. It will be a good time to inquire of athletic director Mike Hamrick about a long-term extension for Sanford, considering the coach will be 9-0 at this point. Hamrick will give his standard response about never discussing a coach’s contract publicly. (We just love that one). But we realize Hamrick will have far more important things to worry about, like how that new deal with International Sports Properties is working, after his decision to bring areas such as multi-media rights and corporate sales and sponsorship in-house for a few years proved to be a complete disaster.

San Diego State, Nov. 10: Come on. Do you really believe the Rebels could again lose to a team that led Division I-AA Cal Poly 14-3 last year, became more conservative than Rush Limbaugh and eventually lost 16-14? Not a chance.

At Texas Christian, Nov. 17: At one UNLV practice recently, my 9-year old son asked this: “Why are so many players on the team named Douglas?” I had to inform him the name he noticed so often on the backs of players was actually a brand of equipment. This really isn’t a reason why the Rebels could win at TCU, but I had to think of something. After all, there is fantasy, and then there is being asked to perform miracles.

At New Mexico, Nov. 24: It was former San Diego State coach Al Luginbill who, after an Aztecs victory in Albuquerque some years back, leaned his head out a locker room door and shouted to star running back Marshall Faulk, “Let’s get out of this God-forsaken place!” Little known NCAA Rule No. 34533: It’s a major violation for any team to lose two straight in any God-forsaken place.

Southern California, BCS Championship Game, New Orleans, Jan. 7: I can see it now. All seems lost when Dixon sprains his knee while jumping up and down upon learning he is one of three Heisman finalists. By some strange phenomenon, Rocky Hinds answers a call on his cell phone from Sanford for the first time in months, tells his close friends at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Southern California it’s time for him to finally leave and returns to quarterback the Rebels past his former team. USC coach Pete Carroll runs across the Superdome turf to congratulate Sanford, but stops short when he sees the coach standing at the 50-yard line and pointing to the sky.

“De Plane!” “De Plane!” “De Plane!”

Ed Graney is the sports columnist for the Review-Journal. He can be reached at 383-4618 or egraney@reviewjournal.com.

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