Randall Cunningham supportive of UNLV, mum on Sanford

Legend on hand as 1984 team honored at Sam Boyd Stadium

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Sam Morris

Former UNLV quarterback and NFL star Randall Cunningham talks to some young fans before the start of UNLV’s game against Utah on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium.

Utah vs UNLV

With an improved defensive performance, in which the Rebels forced five fumbles and recovered two, the UNLV offense stalled, scoring just one touchdown on five trips to the redzone in a 35-15 loss to No. 24 Utah Saturday night.

UNLV vs. Utah

UNLV's Jason Beauchamp puts his arm around Wiselet Rouzard as they walk off their field following their 35-15 loss to Utah Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium. Launch slideshow »
The Rebel Room

UTAH POSTGAME: Well, it wasn't the defense ...

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Ryan Greene and Rob Miech dissect UNLV's fourth consecutive loss, this time a 35-15 defeat at the hands of Utah. The guys look at why the defense wasn't to blame for this one, and what's on the horizon for two programs apparently headed in different directions for the rest of the 2009 season.

Next game

  • Opponent: New Mexico
  • Date: Oct. 24, 5 p.m.
  • Where: Albuquerque, N.M.
  • TV: The Mtn. (Cox ch. 334)
  • Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM

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Early in the second quarter Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium, former UNLV quarterback Randall Cunningham was optimistic.

“Utah’s only up by one point now,” he said. “We just have to get things going. I don’t know. I’m glad I don’t make decisions in this town.”

Then he made two wise choices, visiting a restroom and leaving the stadium to meet his wife.

UNLV’s lone Heisman Trophy candidate, in the stadium to celebrate a 1984 conference title and California Bowl victory, didn’t see his Rebels yield three touchdowns to the Utes the rest of the first half.

Utah led, 28-6, at the half.

Before bolting, Cunningham was asked about UNLV coach Mike Sanford. Before the game, Cunningham told Sanford, “Coach, let’s go out there and get it done” on the field.

Based on the sloppy first half, Sanford was about to slip to 13-41 in five seasons at UNLV.

“I have no comment about any of that,” Cunningham, while leaving the stadium, said about Sanford and his record.

Cunningham, 46, was drafted in the second round by Philadelphia in 1985 and played 17 NFL seasons, throwing for 29,979 yards, 207 touchdowns and 134 interceptions.

The native of Santa Barbara, Calif., is the pastor of Remnant Ministries, the Las Vegas church he founded in 2004.

As many as 10 football players attend services at Cunningham’s church, as well as a few women’s volleyball players and several UNLV coaches from various sports.

He took a high road when asked about the state of the program.

“I just think we have to rally behind the kids,” Cunningham said, “keep encouraging them, push them to graduate … then let God do whatever he’s going to do here with everything else that’s going on.”

Since that 11-2 season of 1984, Cunningham’s final one at UNLV, the Rebels have had four winning seasons – two at 6-5 (1986 and 1992).

Has all that losing embarrassed one of the pillars of the program?

“No, it doesn’t,” Cunningham said. “I still support the kids.”

Has it been difficult watching all that losing?

“I’ll tell you what’s difficult for me is when I was here, we had Harvey Hyde coaching football, Mr. (Brad) Rothermel (the former athletic director), (Jerry) Tarkanian,” Cunningham said.

“The only thing that’s been tough is missing people like that and the tradition we have, and that we had built … I think we have to get back to tradition. I think it’ll drive more of the players from the past to get more involved with the department.”

Cunningham was referring to some of UNLV’s top basketball, football and baseball players from the past.

“It seems like we’re allowing our tradition to run away from us, and we need to grab it back,” he said. “That happens by grabbing players in town, who might not be involved with football, basketball or baseball, and get them back here.

“And maybe treating some of the guys who aren’t doing so well a little special, make them feel special.”

Casino owners and other business leaders, and others who went to other universities who live in Las Vegas and support UNLV, must be embraced.

“We have to make sure we get them involved and keep the hope,” Cunningham said. “With a lot of negative publicity, we have to start thinking positive. When you start thinking positive, you begin to encourage.

“That’s when you get good results.”

Cunningham hiked up a steep asphalt slope and was gone.

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  1. Good point Randall - where are the former UNLV greats in regards to the program. I hope that they are not on Sunday Night Football and mentioning their High School instead of UNLV. Since many have been pushed aside by the program, it would not be any suprise. I would think that I would be begging Randall to be more involved if I was struggling to get locals to want to embrace this team.

  2. didnt they take all of those wins away when it was discovered that there was an ineligible player

  3. 11-2 season of 1984
    The wins were taken away when it was discovered Coach Hyde had used an ineligible player

  4. UNLV still lists it as 11-2 in its media guide and it still beat Toledo in the Cal Bowl ...

  5. so if the wins were taken away and also the california raisin bowl victory for using an ineligible player how is it their still crediting themselves with those wins.where's the ethics here.or did they get reinstated and just nobody knew about it