UNLV: Predicting Rebel Success

It’s Christmas Eve in the valley.  No, not literally, but the time immediately before football season starts often feels like Christmas Eve to diehard fans.  As a child, I found Christmas Eve full of potential, full of excitement and anticipation.  Would I get that new electronic game I wanted?

There is tons of anticipation for the possibilities before football season as well…will my team go to the National Championship, will my team go to a bowl game, will my team even have a winning season?

For a lot of fans, Christmas Day is almost as good as Christmas Eve: their team may not go to the National Championship, but they will have a winning season and maybe go to a bowl game. For those who fall short, their games may actually be worth something (other than pride) well into November.

As a fan of UNLV football, I often feel like the kid who, after having a great time on Christmas Eve anticipating the possibilities, has been getting socks and underwear.  There have been no winning seasons since 2000…no bowl games since 2000…no Fremont Cannon for 5 years. 

But this year is different. UNLV no longer has the Grinch running the program (especially the defense). Coming onboard are a new Athletic Director, Jim Livengood, and a new Head Coach, Bobby Hauck.  They bring a history of working hard and winning with them. 

This is reminiscent of the Dallas Cowboys making moves in the late 1980’s when Jerry Jones bought America’s Team and hired Jimmy Johnson as Head Coach.  The culture of losing left the Cowboys organization, as I hope the culture of losing leaves the Rebels.

UNLV almost shook their culture of losing the last two years.  In 2008, they were one win away from having a winning season and going bowling.  But during the final game of the season, one that actually counted for more than pride, the Rebels defense collapsed and allowed San Diego State to look like the New Orleans Saints. 

Last year, UNLV went 5 – 7 again. They lost early in the season to an anemic Wyoming team that logically should not have been able to win. I am not even going to mention the 1400 yards of offense they gave up in the span of two games to UNR and BYU. Okay, maybe I mentioned it. 

But again, this year is different.  So I am going to make a bold prediction.  It is the same prediction that I made on ESPN 1100: UNLV will go 7 – 6 this year.  They will get the Fremont Cannon back from UNR.  Their last game will matter.

I predict this for many reasons.  The UNLV offense was not the problem.  The problem was a defense that seemed to lack cohesion and discipline.  If everything I hear about Bobby Hauck is right, I do not foresee a lack of discipline being an issue.   

UNLV may have a harder schedule this year – they play both Wisconsin and West Virginia in out of conference games.  But, traditionally, UNLV plays Wisconsin close (and even won in 2003 with a final score of 23 – 5.) 

And a lot of the Rebels issues in prior years was the predictability of Mike Sanford (and coaching staff) when calling plays.  Bobby Hauck is still an unknown variable and relatively unpredictable at this point, which should help pick up a few extra wins. 

Finally, Christmas Eve is a lot more fun when you think you are getting good things.  Imagine being a child on Christmas Eve thinking “I’m going to get socks and underwear again”.

Column written by Joe Buda 

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join the Informer mailing list

Check your email and confirm the subscription