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Former UNLV coach Ron Meyer was Las Vegas guy, colorful coach

Updated December 6, 2017 - 2:22 pm

I saw Ron Meyer almost naked once.

Upon further review, I saw Meyer almost naked a lot of times.

It was during the Summer of ‘94.

The memory came flooding back, circa Johnstown 1889, when it was reported that Ron Meyer had died in Texas at the age of 76.

By the Summer of ‘94, Meyer was nearly 20 years removed from being UNLV’s most successful football coach ever, if one goes by winning percentage.

It also had been a while since he had ridden the Pony Express at Southern Methodist to the NFL, where he would become AFC Coach of the Year with the Colts and the Patriots. Most people forget that he was a coach of the year in the pros. They do not forget that Ron Meyer once ordered a snow plow driver onto the field to clear a path, so John Smith could boot the winning field goal in a 3-0 victory over the Dolphins that ultimately lifted the Patriots into the 1982 playoffs.

Meyer was named coach of the Las Vegas Posse in the Summer of ‘94. The Posse were an expansion team in the Canadian Football League, and more images of Meyer ordering snow plows onto fields of frozen tundra immediately were conjured.

It was just the opposite.

Beat the heat

The CFL starts its season during the middle of summer, to avoid going opposite the NFL, and to avoid frozen tundra as much as possible. When the Posse started training camp on a practice field that sprung from the old Riviera hotel’s blistering asphalt parking lot like a Chia Pet, it was about 111 degrees in the shade. If you could find shade.

Ron Meyer couldn’t find any.

A VICE Sports retrospective on the Posse that ran in June — the Posse had such a colorful existence under Meyer that people write retrospectives even when it’s not an anniversary year — said he allowed his assistant coaches to go shirtless and barefoot in practice to beat the summer swelter.

The way I remember it, Meyer was the one who took his off first.

The only thing I can compare it to is the time I got stuck in the middle seat of an airplane next to a hairy guy wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey, and there was a delay on the ground, and the little fans in the overhead compartment were blowing hot air.

This is what I told VICE Sports about the practice field attire (or lack of it) of the Posse coaching staff under Ron Meyer: “All they had on was these skimpy coaching shorts. They weren’t even shorts. They were like the shortest you could wear without being arrested. The first time I went out to practice, I saw the coaching staff walking around like Tarzan in their loincloths, all oiled and bronzed up.”

The Posse coaches might have beaten the heat. The Posse players could not beat the Edmonton Eskimos and the B.C. Lions and other teams north of the border, not all of which were named Roughriders, or Rough Riders, but two of which were.

The Posse went 5-13 in their only season. If there was ever a team that was “gone but not forgotten” the Posse were the quintessential example.

But colorful and bronzed Ron Meyer was also a pretty good football coach, at least in games not played in Saskatchewan.

Vegas guy

He may have spent only four seasons here, but he was a Vegas guy to the core, just as Jerry Tarkanian was a Vegas guy, and Harvey Hyde was a Vegas guy, and Ken Stabler would have been a Vegas guy, had the Raiders decided to move here in 1970 instead of 2020.

You had to have swagger to be a Vegas guy. You didn’t have to necessarily break the rules, but you had to be willing to bend them when you thought nobody was looking. You had to be in the middle of stuff. Did I mention the snow plow driver Ron Meyer sent onto the field at Foxboro, Massachusetts, was on work release from prison? He was in the middle of stuff. The snow plow driver could have been a Vegas guy,

But to be a Vegas guy, you also had to win.

Ron Meyer was a Vegas guy.

I will recall the brief time I covered him and his team with fondness, and I will never forget the smell of Hawaiian Tropic on the practice field.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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