Getty Images

UNLV fires Tony Sanchez

8 Comments

UNLV is waving goodbye to two friends to close this season. The Rebels played their last home game at Sam Boyd Stadium last Saturday, and this Saturday will be its last game under head coach Tony Sanchez. The program announced Monday that Sanchez will be let go following Saturday’s curtain call against Nevada.

“I’m grateful for my time here and proud of the strides we made as a football program, on and off the field,” Sanchez said in a statement. “I’m proud of our student-athletes and our staff and how we have positioned the program for future success. I look forward to finishing the season strong with these young men. I would also like to thank our community, our alumni and our donors for their generous support in making the Fertitta Football Complex a reality.”

Hired directly from Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School, Sanchez went 85-5 with six state championships from 2009-14, then saw his fortunes flip at the next level, going 19-40 and 12-27 in conference play with the Rebels. UNLV failed to reach the postseason in five seasons leading the program, peaking at 5-7 in 2017. UNLV is 3-8 heading into Saturday.

“We appreciate everything that Tony has done for our university and football program,” AD Desiree Reed-Francois said. “He made us better. Because of his work and his vision, we have the best facilities in the Mountain West and rival some of the best in the country. What he has done for the football community in Las Vegas during his five years at UNLV and his six years at Bishop Gorman High School has been remarkable. Further, our football team has made great progress academically under Tony’s leadership. We wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

Sanchez’s candidacy was backed by brothers Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta of UFC fame, and it’s telling that Sanchez’s main accomplishment was the building of the $34 million football complex bearing the Fertitta name.

That complex and the new stadium being built by the Las Vegas Raiders will allow the next UNLV head coach a greater chance at hitting the proverbial jackpot than Sanchez had.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.

Report: USC OC Graham Harrell interviewing for NFL job

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Clay Helton has been searching for a defensive coordinator the past several weeks and may need to expand his search to include an offensive coordinator as well.

According to a report out of Philadelphia, USC OC Graham Harrell has interviewed with the Eagles for a spot on Doug Pederson’s coaching staff in a similar role:

Harrell was retained this offseason amid plenty of fan fare (and money) in Los Angeles. He reportedly had interest from Texas in the same position on Tom Herman’s staff but a return to the Lone Star State was put off for a multi-year deal with the Trojans.

The former North Texas OC and Texas Tech quarterback oversaw one of the more impressive turnarounds in the country in 2019. Despite being forced to play true freshman Kedon Slovis at quarterback following J.T. Daniels injury, USC still added nearly a touchdown per game with the move to the Air Raid and rose from 91st in scoring offense to 35th.

This wouldn’t be the first time Helton and the Trojans will feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them by the NFL after a splashy move on offense. As many know, Kliff Kingsbury was on the job for a few weeks before moving on as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals last January. We’ll see if anything becomes of Harrell’s flirtation with the pros but there’s little doubt that this will not be the last time his name comes up for a bigger job going forward.