UNLV didn’t search far to find its next head coach. According to reports late Monday night from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated and Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Tony Sanchez is set to become the next UNLV head coach.
If that name does not immediately ring a bell, you are forgiven. Sanchez is currently the head coach of Bishop Gorman High School, an affluent Catholic school in Las Vegas. He guided the Gaels to an 85-5 record and six consecutive Division I state titles, and currently has the program ranked No. 1 nationally by USA Today and MaxPreps.com.
UNLV is a program in needs of wins and financial stability, and the Rebels believe Sanchez can bring both. SI reported that Sanchez is connected to the Las Vegas business community, and will be expected to raise money to bring much-needed renovations to the Rebels’ football facilities as well as Sam Boyd Stadium.
“You’ve got to find the local homegrown kids and give them an opportunity and a reason to stay home,” Sanchez told SI. “That is huge. You talk about putting more people in the stands, getting more community support and people rallying around the program, I think it always starts in your backyard. Home is always home, but you’ve got to give them a reason to want to stay home.”
Sanchez will replace Bobby Hauck, who went 15-49 in five seasons after going 80-17 in seven years as Montana’s head coach.
Plucking high school coaches to the big time is a popular move in college football right now, as former high school coaches Gus Malzahn (Auburn), Art Briles (Baylor) and Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) have experienced tremendous success at their current schools, and former Texas high school coaches Chad Morris (SMU) and David Beaty (Kansas) have been hired during the young 2014-15 coaching carousel. But what separates those names from Sanchez is that none of them jumped straight from high school to FBS head coaching positions.
There is recent case of precedent in major college football, and it’s one that should make UNLV fans shudder. In 2007, North Texas hired a tremendously successful local high school coach – Southlake Carroll’s Todd Dodge, owner of an 84-1 record from 2002-06 – as its head coach. He was fired seven games into his fourth season with a 6-37 record.
Prior to Bishop Gorman, Sanchez spent nearly his entire career in the high school ranks, bouncing around the Southwest from El Paso, Texas, to Las Cruces, N.M., and then to San Ramon, Calif., before landing in Las Vegas. According to SI, Sanchez’s only college coaching experience is a stint as a graduate assistant at New Mexico State in the mid-1990’s.
With UNLV filling its head coaching vacancy, Michigan, Oregon State, Colorado State, Houston and Tulsa remain the only FBS programs without full-time head coaches.