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It’s not as if Gaels’ Sanchez can do much worse than predecessors at UNLV

Some perspective: Harvey Hyde is the last UNLV football coach to leave the position with a winning record. He went 26-19-1 from 1982 to 1985.

Since then, six men have had the title, and the best winning percentage among them belonged to Wayne Nunnely at 43.2.

Combined, the six produced an overall record of 108-230.

That’s losing at a 68 percent clip.

That’s pathetic on every conceivable level.

Among the six have existed a college football Hall of Famer (John Robinson), the offensive coordinator of a Bowl Championship Series buster at Utah (Mike Sanford) and a coach who guided Montana to three Football Championship Subdivision title games (Bobby Hauck).

The six also went a combined 63-146 in conference and advanced to a total of three bowl games.

All in the past 28 years.

And some are questioning UNLV’s choice to hire a high school coach?

What are people so worried about, that he might lose games?

The Rebels have been experts at that for decades. Few programs nationally lose with the regularity of UNLV. It’s rock solid in that area.

Here’s a thought: What if Tony Sanchez wins?

UNLV reportedly has decided on Bishop Gorman’s lead man as the coach who will replace Hauck and is expected to have a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce its decision.

Finally. Take your pictures, make your speeches and get on with it.

No one who has followed or reported on the process believes for a second that there has been another candidate than Sanchez — heck, those coaches who received courtesy telephone calls or perhaps a sit-down to make the search appear genuine don’t even believe it — so if this is the avenue the Rebels always wanted to take, it’s their right.

Their coach.

Their decision.

But when the time comes to introduce Sanchez, don’t insult our intelligence by suggesting others were seriously viewed as viable options. This was hardly a long and exhaustive and detailed search. Please.

“He was always going to be the guy,” said one coach who spoke with UNLV about the job. “Has been for some time. No one else was really in it.”


You don’t choose a high school coach over names such as Jim Fassel or June Jones and not be assured that with Sanchez will come a level of support needed for the Rebels to upgrade their football program in countless areas.

Well, you hope those at UNLV wouldn’t.

They’re smarter than that, right?


The football part is on Sanchez. He has everything to prove, from his ability to hire a competent staff to recruiting to preparation to coaching to motivating to keeping players eligible and out of trouble to running a clean program.

When you’re in charge, you’re responsible for everything. It all falls at your feet. He will begin this journey at the bottom of the college football ladder and could lose more games by the middle of next October than he did in six years at Bishop Gorman.

This is his reality today, and it’s on him to overcome what has been an impossible hurdle for others with far more impressive resumes and respected reputations at this level to scale.

But it’s also true Sanchez could eventually have a fighting chance if those in his corner indeed step up financially to assist the growth.

I don’t care who is in the background brokering such discussions — although more people insist daily it is interim president Don Snyder acting on the school’s behalf when talking to potential donors such as the Fertitta family — but there should be some agreement that the Sanchez hire will lead to better facilities and other elements needed to get UNLV at least even with competing Mountain West schools.

I don’t expect school officials to acknowledge such things when introducing Sanchez, and there is every chance they will talk around or avoid entirely speaking about the Fertittas or anyone else who might be willing to help.

There will be all sorts of dancing around questions.

Which is all sorts of silly in 2014.

Oregon isn’t Oregon without Phil Knight. Oklahoma State isn’t Oklahoma State without T. Boone Pickens. No one expects the Fertittas or others to match or come close to the level of support those schools have received from wealthy benefactors, but Sanchez and UNLV don’t stand a chance without outside money making a difference in what the school can offer recruits.

Will it be perceived that Sanchez had the job bought for him?

Of course.

You know what?

Who cares?

It’s the reality of trying to finally make something good of what is an awful, irrelevant, football program today.

Facilities and better coaching salaries and improved academic support systems will only get UNLV into the game. After that, Sanchez will sink or swim on his own, no matter who his friends are and what they’re willing to give.

He can either coach at this level or he can’t. That will be shown on the field.

But he might be, given those in his corner, the one coach who can do what so many others with bigger names and resumes failed miserably trying.

Think about it … what if he wins?

All the better.

So get on with it, already.

He was always going to be the guy.

Now, let’s see what he can do.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 100.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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