It appears UNLV is all but set to name a successor to the dismissed Bobby Hauck. The only thing apparently standing in the way of an announcement? A prep football title game.
Late Wednesday night, Las Vegas’ CBS television affiliate reported that Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School football coach Tony Sanchez is set to become Hauck’s successor with the Rebels, with “the only thing left to be done is for the Board of Regents to approve the deal.” In a subsequent conversation with the Las Vegas Sun, Sanchez, whose unbeaten Gorman squad will play in the state championship game Saturday, downplayed the report as he attempts to focus himself and his team on the game at hand — while at the same time acknowledging there will be a decision to make.
“No decision has been made by either party,” Sanchez said. “I haven’t made a decision on what I am going to do. …
“Who knows what will transpire in the next week.”
Not only is Gorman undefeated, it’s gunning for its sixth consecutive state championship in Sanchez’s six seasons at the school. On addition to that, it’s the top-ranked high school team in the country.
Could Sanchez be a success making the immediate jump from the high school ranks to the college level? The experience of Gerry Faust going from Cincinnati Moeller to Notre Dame would say no. Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn, on the other hand, would say it certainly is possible, although those two had a few years and a couple of college coordinating jobs between the end of their high school coaching days and their first FBS head-coaching job. Bill Blankenship, who was a high school coach in 2005 before becoming Tulsa’s head coach in 2011, was fired earlier this month after four seasons on the job.
Some could argue, though, that Sanchez moving on from a high school powerhouse like Gorman to an MWC school like UNLV would be as close as you could get to a lateral move between the two levels, with the learning curve not being as steep or the transition as hazardous — or the expectations as high or history as steeped — as it was for someone like Faust.
In addition to Sanchez, who has been considered the front-runner for more than a week, former FBS head coaches Houston Nutt and Ed Orgeron have been connected to the opening. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, both of those coaches spoke by phone to UNLV officials, including athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy. However, finances — or lack thereof — could put an end to those candidacies.
That said, the paper also writes that “several sources said all signs continue to point to… Sanchez landing the job, though no agreement is in place and one was not guaranteed.”
Of course, there’s also a potential plot twist that doesn’t involve Sanchez, but does involve a very powerful family in Sin City.
“June Jones is a dear friend of ours, and we’ve known him for many years when he was coaching at Hawaii,” prominent UNLV booster Gavin Maloof told the Review-Journal Friday. “We think the world of him. We think he would do a great job for the program.
According to Kevin Anderson of the Review-Journal, Jones, the former SMU coach who abruptly gave up that job in September, will do a phone interview for the UNLV job Monday. While Anderson writes that the “[j]ob still looks like it’s going to Tony Sanchez,” there’s this:
If you’re in Vegas, grab your popcorn. This could get mildly interesting.