Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Cause and Effect?
Here are the football budgets and bowl game appearances for Mountain West Conference schools:
- TCU, $16.6 million, 25 bowl games
- BYU, $10.1 million, 27 bowl games
- Utah, $9.8 million, 15 bowl games
- San Diego State, $9.8 million, 4 bowl games
- Colorado State, $7.8 million, 12 bowl games
- UNLV, $6.4 million, 3 bowl games
- New Mexico, $5.7 million, 11bowl games
- Wyoming, $5.5 million, 11 bowl games
- Air Force, *, 19 bowl games
*Air Force’s budget is provided by the U.S. government and isn’t reported under the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act.
Looked Good on Paper
UNLV has had five head football coaches since Randall Cunningham left school in 1984:
- Wayne Nunnely, hired from within the program. Record at UNLV: 19-25
- Jim Strong, offensive coordinator, national champion Notre Dame. Record at UNLV: 17-27
- Jeff Horton, head coach, Nevada-Reno. Record at UNLV: 13-44
- John Robinson, former national championship coach, USC. Record at UNLV: 28-42
- Mike Sanford, offensive coordinator, BCS qualifier Utah. Record at UNLV: 15-43
- Sanford won’t return as UNLV coach in 2010 (11-15-2009)
- UNLV’s 45-17 loss to Air Force marked by mistakes, blown opportunities (11-14-2009)
- UNLV-Air Force Box Score
- 2009 UNLV Football Stats
- Kantowski: A name for those who want to see Sanford gone (11-11-2009)
- Kantowski: UNLV's Mike Sanford running out of excuses (10-12-2009)
- Koloskie says coaches can’t be judged solely by wins and losses (10-9-2009)
- Kantowski: Meditations on UNLV’s beleaguered football coach (10-7-2009)
- Kantowski: For Rebels, loss to UNR a new low (10-5-2009)
The hills are alive with the sound of ... well, that isn’t exactly music now, is it? It’s the cacophony of UNLV football fans suggesting cures for what has ailed the program since the advent of the face mask and two platoons.
It really hasn’t been that long since the Rebels have been competitive. It just seems like it.
Actually, it seems longer. Three winning seasons since 1987. Sheesh! Rebel fans are mad as hell, and like Howard Beale in “Network” or Allen Iverson in Memphis, they’re not going to take it anymore. Or so they write.
Hire this coach or that one. Hire Bear Bryant’s nephew. But first hire this athletic director or that one. Or Bill Gates’ second cousin. Pave the parking lot. Build a new stadium. Heck, while you’re at it, put a dome on it. Schedule Notre Dame. Drop Texas Christian. Run the ball. Throw the ball. Blitz. Put eight men in the box. Drive a stake through BYU’s heart. Make UNR cry uncle.
Go for it on fourth-and-2 on your own 28.
I can’t speak for Mudville, but there is joy on Maryland Parkway because Mike Sanford has been run out as coach.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land, the sun is shining bright ... like on Urban Meyer at Florida, for instance. It’s easy to build a program with 240-pound guys who run the 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds. It’s easy to build a program where they spend $18.7 million annually on football and the BCS championship is yours to lose.
This isn’t complicated, like pulling soldiers out of Afghanistan or the Pythagorean theory. What’s the hypotenuse? Who cares what a hypoten uses. Fielding a winning football program isn’t rocket science, has nothing to do with Roger Clemens, really.
If UNLV wants to win in football, it must spend money on football. Period. Beginning, middle and end of story. That’s basically what Sanford said during his 25-minute news conference Monday.
Look at the chart about football budgets and bowl games elsewhere on this page. Then look at the Mountain West standings.
Cause, meet effect.
I read recently where UNLV has secured $500 million in endowments and other pledges. If it is prepared to spend $16.6 million of those promissory notes on football, like TCU does, goodbye MWC basement. Hello BCS penthouse. Hello Lee Corso on Saturday morning. Hello paved parking lot.
No slight to Urban Meyer, but good coaches are overrated. They might turn a 14-10 loss into a 17-14 victory once a season. Maybe Bear Bryant’s nephew does it twice a season.
There’s no limit, on the other hand, to what a fat wallet can buy. See Tressel, Jim; Girardi, Joe; Trump, Donald. Maybe money can’t buy you love, or, in Trump’s case, a decent hairpiece. It can buy a good coach. It can make it easier to acquire national and world championships, even if most of the world doesn’t play baseball.
But let’s say for the sake of fiscal responsibility that UNLV has no intention of leaping with the Frogs when it comes to those promissory notes and its bid to join the Big East — still the shortest path to BCS fame and fortune — is rejected.
For the Rebels’ (lack of) money, there are still two ways to potentially be respectable under the current budget restraints.
A) Run the option, like Air Force.
B) Recruit every junior college stud with a C-minus average who has never been convicted of robbing a 7-Eleven, like Kansas State did under Bill Snyder when it overcame a potentially lethal dose of fumbleitis to attain football health and prosperity.
Eventually, the Wildcats slipped back to mediocrity. Then they paid a new coach under the table and that, as you can imagine, didn’t work out too well. See Massimino, Rollie.
Because I have a wife who is fond of her purses and frequents places where a college football player might be tempted to snatch them, I prefer the option option.
UNLV should take its cue from the late Billy Preston. Instead of the Fifth Beatle, it should become the Fourth Commander in Chief Team. Army. Navy. Air Force. Marines? No, the Marines don’t have a stadium, even one off campus with a dusty parking lot. Army. Navy. Air Force. UNLV. Now that’s more like it.
The Samoan guys might not like it, because they’d have to get haircuts. But if UNLV were to adopt the option — which is difficult to master and even harder to defend against — maybe the Rebels could beat Notre Dame, too.
Not only is the option difficult to defend against, but you can run it with little guys who aren’t that fast. I laugh every time I hear one of my colleagues in the media talk about what a great defense Air Force has. It’s an OK defense. The reason it looks great in the statistics is because it is rarely on the field. Not when the Falcons’ offense is marching 91 yards in 18 plays by running the option.
This is why, unless it is willing to loosen the purse strings and leap with the Frogs, UNLV would be better off running the option and keeping its English department.
But there is one more remedy that could make the hills around Sam Boyd Stadium come alive with the sound of football fans filing through the turnstiles: Run the option with big guys who run really fast.
It worked for Barry Switzer.