Sharing an NFL stadium can bring mud to one’s eye

Updated January 6, 2018 - 6:56 pm

All of this wailing and gnashing of teeth about UNLV becoming a second-class citizen in the new Raiders’ stadium brings back a similar memory for one of the school’s few winning football coaches.

When Harvey Hyde was Rebels coach in the 1980s, the great Randall Cunningham was his quarterback. Cal State Fullerton had Damon Allen, Marcus’ kid brother, who would go on to become the Canadian Football League’s career passing leader and be named the Most Outstanding Player of 12-men-a-side football at age 42 in 2005.

The teams met in a late-season showdown scheduled for Anaheim Stadium when the NFL’s Rams also played there.

The Rebels and Titans were practically doing warmup calisthenics when the skies opened up. They were told no way were they getting on a wet, muddy field with the Rams scheduled to play on it the next day.

So with the shortest of notices and zero fanfare, the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference game of the year was moved to Santa Ana Stadium, a quaint 9,000-seat bowl that in its previous iteration had to be demolished after an infestation of termites. Another charming aspect of the Santa Ana Bowl: When field-goal kickers miss wide right, the football is prone to go flying over barbed wire and landing in the workout yard of the adjacent Orange County Jail.

“At that time we were disappointed,” Hyde said of the Rebels and Titans becoming second-class citizens for having the audacity to schedule a game on Rams home turf on a day it would rain. “We wanted to be on the big stage. We didn’t have the big stage.”

Hyde said the Rebels won on the small stage after the field-goal kickers were instructed to keep the ball low.

“We didn’t kick many field goals,” he said jokingly about the atrocious condition of the field. “The turf was all eaten up. It wasn’t the (ideal) setting for a championship game.”

The new Raiders’ stadium will have a translucent roof and it never rains in Las Vegas, so at least UNLV won’t have to reschedule a game on short notice on account of the weather.

But what if there’s another hurricane in New Orleans when the Raiders are scheduled to play the Saints? What happens then?

Chucky gets Roger Goodell and the stadium authority on a conference call, and UNLV plays New Mexico on Wednesday night, that’s what happens then.

0:03

— This is the time of the basketball season when it usually is pointed out that former UNLV coach Lon Kruger has put together another outstanding team at Oklahoma.

Two years removed from a Final Four berth, the Sooners are 12-2 and ranked No. 7 in The Associated Press poll. Kruger has his guys — wait for it — running and gunning, as evidenced by Wednesday’s 109-89 victory over rival Oklahoma State and a team scoring average of 95.8 points, which leads the nation.

Sooners freshman point guard Trae Young, a homegrown Norman product, is widely heralded as the best player in the nation, so also give Kruger credit for not letting the big fish in the small pond get away.

— If one reads the sports briefs with a magnifying glass, one might have noticed UNLV fired one of its more successful coaches on New Year’s Eve. After guiding the Rebels to five consecutive winning seasons and 24 wins and a second-round berth in the 2016 NCAA Tournament, volleyball coach Cindy Fredrick was terminated after one losing season.

If there’s another story behind her ouster, nobody in the athletic department is talking about it.

Fredrick’s record in seven years was 122-94. For comparison’s sake, Kathy Olivier’s record in nine-plus seasons as women’s basketball coach is 144-153. Olivier received a four-year contract extension in August.

— The Golden Knights literally have taken the U.S. by storm. Channel 8’s Chris Maathuis posted a video on his Twitter account showing a shivering young man on a New York subway platform telling the “CBS Evening News” how subzero temperatures were wreaking havoc on his travel plans. The young man was sporting a Golden Knights cap and hoodie along with a few wisps of playoff beard.

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

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