Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 | 2 a.m.
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Ryan Greene, Rob Miech and Alex Adeyanju digest all there was to take in from UNLV's 59-21 loss to BYU on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.
- UNLV-BYU Box Score
- Instant analysis: Loss to BYU leaves Mike Sanford hanging by a thread
- Cougars toy with Rebels in thorough 59-21 beating
- Harvey Unga puts on show for BYU fans in ‘Provo West’
- BYU quarterback has a ball — at UNLV’s expense
- Notebook: Team leaders think signs of belief are still present
- Live Game Blog: BYU rolls reeling Rebels, 59-21
- Opponent: Utah
- Date: Oct. 17, 7 p.m.
- Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
- TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
- Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
- The Line: Utah by 17
To paraphrase Spike Lee, it’s gotta be the socks.
One of the exasperated fans who wrote on the Sun’s Internet site more or less blamed the Rebels’ latest humiliating football defeat, a 59-21 demolition by Brigham Young at Sam Boyd Stadium Saturday night, on the Rebels’ black socks.
Really. Their socks.
You gotta give this fellow named Gregory some credit. He may have come up with the one excuse that UNLV coach Mike Sanford has yet to use for his team’s continual lack of progress.
Last week, after a demoralizing 63-28 drubbing at Nevada-Reno, Sanford (13-40, 2-4 this year) said up to then he had not been directly involved with what arguably was the worst exhibition of defense since Poland capitulated to Germany and the Soviets during the 1939 September Campaign. Starting this week, he would become directly involved.
Was that a promise or a threat?
Where was The Resistance? Romania?
I suppose you could argue the Rebels were slightly improved on defense, in that they allowed only 59 points this week as opposed to 63, and only 611 yards as opposed to 773 last week. BYU is better than UNR. But let’s not forget that Harvey Unga, the Cougars’ Wooly Bully running back, spent the fourth quarter trying to get Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs back together for a reunion tour. And let’s not forget that if Bronco Mendenhall, the BYU coach, were as vindictive as Chris Ault, the UNR coach, it’s conceivable Unga could still be picking Rebels out of his teeth.
Afterward, Sanford said the Rebels were missing a couple of their key defensive players, and that was the difference. Then he said the three interceptions thrown by UNLV quarterbacks also were the difference. He did not, however, mention UNLV’s black socks.
By the way, the interception excuse is the same one Sanford used after the Rebels lost 30-27 at Wyoming a couple of weeks ago to prolong the nation’s longest losing streak in conference games played away from home.
Sanford is turning into the Liquid Pledge of college coaches. You can’t charge him with dusting off the same excuses because they don’t sit around long enough to gather any.
I actually thought Sanford might do the honorable thing and announce his resignation after this latest debacle, a la John Robinson in 2004. The Rebels started 0-4 that year mostly because they didn’t play Sacramento State. Regardless, Robinson called everybody into his office on a Sunday afternoon. His heart wasn’t in it anymore. His wife was sick and so was his team. He didn’t blame injuries, or terrible attempts at throwaway passes along the sidelines resulting in interceptions. I will always respect John Robinson for that (as well as a lot of other things).
The next week, the Rebels went out and destroyed UNR 48-13. Suffice it to say, UNLV did not allow 773 yards in that one.
Mike Sanford is not the answer to what ails the UNLV football program. I know it, you know it, he knows it. The events of the past three weeks have pounded it home like Buddy Rich on the drums. But there is no disgrace in not getting it done at UNLV. Wayne Nunnely did not get it done. Jim Strong did not get it done. Jeff Horton did not get it done. The legendary John Robinson, who won a national championship at USC, for John McKay’s sake, did not get it done.
Tony Knap got it done, but that was in the 1970s. Harvey Hyde got it done. That was when the Rebels had Randall Cunningham and all kinds of other players who could run and block and tackle, some of whom even went to class.
UNLV wanted a winner. Harvey Hyde gave it one. This is how it is at schools such as UNLV. They want you to compete against Ohio State with an Ohio University budget and facilities. Then the president gets all righteous when a linebacker skips class or a defensive back steals a stereo.
See, if I were Sanford, that would be the excuse I would use.
Jerry Koloskie, the Rebels’ interim athletic director, is taking serious collateral damage from passionate UNLV fans for not exercising the authority he says he has and demanding Sanford’s resignation effective immediately (not when the Rebels are still mathematically alive for a bowl berth, Koloskie says). He says it’s about more than wins and losses.
It’s not about more than wins and losses. It should be, but it isn’t. It’s about wins and more wins. It’s about putting rear ends in stadium seats. It’s about generating enough revenue to send the women’s tennis team on the road.
It’s not about graduation rates. Mike Hamrick, the Rebels’ former athletic director, said it was a lot about graduation rates. You see where that got him.
But were Mike Sanford to say he was told it was about graduation rates, and it’s hard to beat BYU when you are trying to be like Princeton or Yale, at least I’d listen. If I were him, I’d also throw in the dirt parking lots and the lousy TV deal.
Otherwise, it may as well be about the socks.