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UNLV’s Sanchez, Colorado State’s Bobo learning fast as first-year head coaches

Tony Sanchez had been a head coach, just not at the college level.

Mike Bobo had been a college coach, just not the head man.

Now, both 41-year-olds are in charge of college football programs that will go against each other this weekend. UNLV (3-6, 2-3 Mountain West) visits Colorado State (4-5, 2-3) at 4 p.m. PST Saturday.

Sanchez has benefited from running a Bishop Gorman High School program the past six seasons like a college one.

“If I had come from, for example, Cal High (in San Ramon, Calif.), I don’t know if I would’ve been ready,” Sanchez said. “When I first sat down with you guys (reporters), it wasn’t the first time I talked with you. I’ve seen you guys over the years and done national interviews, coached in national games and flown and done travel plans.

“I get frustrated at times because I’m not in that room with the coaches as much as I want to be, but right now it’s so important that we’re doing everything we can to build the program in a variety of ways, not just on the field but also off the field.”

He has made the rare leap of going directly from high school to a college head coaching job. Only four previous coaches have done that in the modern era, and none had notable success.

But Sanchez learned from past mistakes and hired a veteran college staff to help him with the transition. He knows when he has a media obligation or a meeting with donors or something else that takes him away from working on the weekly game plan that his assistants can take care of it.

“They’re great coaches, and they’re good men,” Sanchez said. “The reason I bring up good men is because in this game trust is such an important thing. You have to have a clear message for the players and for the guys who are working for you and working with you. They have to reiterate that message 24 hours a day from our strength staff to our training staff to our coaching staff, so when you are away, that same message is still being repeated.”

Bobo said he has been impressed by what he’s seen from the Rebels under Sanchez.

“I think he’s got the guys believing and playing hard,” Bobo said. “You turn on the tape, and you see guys playing hard and playing with enthusiasm and having fun. I think that’s the first step.”

Bobo is an experienced college coach who has spent nearly his entire career at Georgia, where he was a record-setting quarterback from 1994 to 1997. Except for a stint at Jacksonville State in 2000, he has been a coach for the Bulldogs since serving as a graduate assistant in 1998 and 1999.

Georgia coach Mark Richt brought him in as quarterbacks coach in 2001 and made Bobo the offensive coordinator in 2007.

Bobo decided he also would call the offensive plays at Colorado State.

“I was able to work with Mark Richt for a number of years where he was the coordinator who called plays and the head coach,” Bobo said. “I saw how he balanced everything, and that’s kind of my model right now. It’s something I love to do, and I feel comfortable. If I ever feel like that the noncoaching is taking away from my coaching ability of calling plays on game day, then I would make a decision on that. But, right now, I don’t.”

Having not coached in the West, Bobo made sure he had assistants who had that experience when he was hired at Colorado State. But it’s a diverse staff, with coaches from various parts of the country.

Bobo said having a website such as Hudl, which features high school player videos from all over the nation, is a major advantage.

“In today’s recruiting, it’s not so much where you had that area was the only way you were going to know about a kid,” Bobo said. “Everybody knows about everybody nowadays because of the Internet and social media and Hudl.”

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65

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