UNLV football has improved steadily under Tony Sanchez. Will the Rebels finally turn the corner in 2018?
The UNLV football program has never been able to find the same success that the basketball program had in 1990 with Stacey Augmon and Larry Johnson. Even the legendary USC Trojans football coach John Robinson could only manage one winning season in the desert, back in 2000. The Rebels transitioned from I-AA (now the FCS) to I-A (now the FBS) in 1996, playing in the now defunct WAC under Jeff Horton.
When UNLV joined the Mountain West they brought in John Robinson after Horton led the Rebels to an 0-11 season in 1998. Over his six seasons in Las Vegas, Robinson finished up with a 28-42 overall record with the one winning season in 2000, and a .500 season in 2003. Mike Sanford was brought in as the head coach in 2005 and managed 16 wins over five season.
Sanford had put together a strong resume as an offensive mind with stops all over the west coast before taking over at UNLV. Seemingly a perfect fit, but he too failed to put together a winning resume as head coach of the Rebels.
Montana Grizz head coach Bobby Hauck traveled south and managed a 7-6 record in 2013, but recorded only 15 total wins in his five seasons at the helm. Hauck eventually returned to Montana and Bishop Gorman High School’s Tony Sanchez took over the UNLV job in 2015.
Under Sanchez, the Rebels have improved by one win every season starting with a 3-9 record and finishing 2017 5-7. Coach Sanchez can still pluck major talent from Gorman as his brother took over as head coach there, and has connections in talent rich Los Angeles after coaching Cordell Broadus (better known as the son of rapper Snoop Dogg). Sanchez’s Rebels finished 2017 as the 95th best program per the S&P+ but could see an improvement in 2018.