The good news continues to roll in for one on-sabbatical member of the UNLV coaching staff.
In mid-July, UNLV confirmed that Barney Cotton would be stepping down from his duties as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach as he awaited a heart transplant. Three months later, Rebels head coach Tony Sanchez announced on Twitter last week that the 63-year-old Cotton would be undergoing heart transplant surgery exactly one week ago today; it was subsequently confirmed that the surgery, performed in Omaha, Neb., was a success.
In an update, the family issued a statement Monday in which they offered thanks for “the outpouring of support” they have received while also urging people to “pray for the donor’s family in their difficult time.”
As for Cotton’s health, the family’s statement said that “[t]he medical staff tells us the surgery and recovery up to this point have gone as expected.”
Within the past week the Lord has blessed us with the incredible gift of life through a heart transplant surgery at Nebraska Medical Center. The medical staff tells us the surgery and recovery up to this point have gone as expected. While we had intended to keep the news regarding this procedure private for several weeks out of respect for the organ donor process, we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support and prayers that we have received. In June we began this journey at Bryan Heart in Lincoln and are grateful for their diagnosis, compassionate care and referral to Nebraska Medicine. Without them we would not be in Omaha today.
We believe that this would not have been possible without God, your prayers and the incredible team at Nebraska Medical Center. We would like to thank everyone including the doctors, nurses, transplant coordinators, physical, occupational and respiratory therapists, housekeeping, nutritional and surgical staff. Most important, we would like to thank our donor and our donor’s family. We recognize that our family’s joy is another family’s sorrow. We urge you to pray for the donor’s family in their difficult time.
The Cotton Family
Cotton hopes to continue his coaching career, although there’s no timeline for a return to the sidelines.
Barney Cotton has taken a huge step in what he hopes will be a return to full health and a normal life — and, ultimately, to the sidelines.
In mid-July, UNLV confirmed that Cotton would be stepping down from his duties as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach as he awaited a heart transplant. Three months later, Rebels head coach Tony Sanchez announced on Twitter that Cotton would be undergoing heart transplant surgery Tuesday afternoon.
While there’s been no official word from the coach or the football program, it’s being reported that the surgery, which was performed in Omaha, Neb., was a success.
As for what’s next for the 63-year-old Cotton, who hopes to return to coaching, over the next few months? From the Mayo Clinic:
After you’ve had surgery to place your donor heart, you’ll stay in the intensive care unit (ICU). You’ll generally be moved to a regular hospital room after a few days in the ICU, and you’ll usually remain in the hospital for a week or two. The amount of time you’ll spend in the ICU and in the hospital can vary.
After you leave the hospital, you’ll be closely monitored at your outpatient transplant center by your transplant team. Due to the frequency and intensity of the monitoring, many people stay close by the transplant center for the first three months. Afterward, the follow-up visits are less frequent, and it’s easier to travel back and forth for follow-up visits.
You’ll also be monitored for any signs or symptoms of rejection, such as shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, not urinating as much or weight gain. It’s important to let your transplant team know if you notice any signs or symptoms of rejection or infection.
After your heart transplant, you’ll have several follow-up appointments at the transplant center. You’ll have regular tests, including blood work, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms and heart biopsies.
To determine whether your body is rejecting the new heart, you’ll have frequent heart biopsies in the first few months after heart transplantation, when rejection is most likely to occur. The frequency of necessary biopsies decreases over time.
This time last week, Vanderbilt was embarrassed by one-win UNLV in a 24-point loss to the Rebels. Seven days later, one-win Vandy was on the right side of the embarrassment — at the expense of one of its ranked SEC East brethren.
A 21-point favorite on the road coming in, Missouri never led in the game as Vandy stunned the 22nd-ranked Tigers 21-14 for its second win of the 2019 campaign. Mizzou, which entered the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season a week ago, fell to 5-2 overall and 2-1 in SEC play.
For Vandy, it broke a nine-game losing streak over ranked opponents, with the last win coming against No. 18 Kansas State in September of 2017. It was also their first win over a ranked conference foe since dropping No. 24 Tennessee in November of 2016.
In the Commodores win, Ke’Shawn Vaughn accounted for a pair of touchdowns — a 61-yard reception and a one-yard run to kick off the scoring three minutes into the game. Vaughn also accounted for a game-high 96 yards on the ground.
Neither team did much offensively, with Vandy outgaining Mizzou 315-293. The Tigers did have 12 penalties for 120 yards, so they had that going for them. Which was nice.
TV revenues have skyrocketed for those schools in the Power Five and now it’s time for a few leagues in the Group of Five to get their turn at the table. Following large deals from the MAC and AAC in recent years, the Mountain West is the next man up and it appears as though a deal could be wrapped up soon.
Speaking to reporters at the conference’s basketball media day on Tuesday, commissioner Craig Thompson said he expects something to be announced at some point in the next 30 days or so on the media rights front. One sticking point for both the league and member schools? The number of late night kickoffs (often pushing past 7 or 8 p.m. local) involved in the deal, which is expected to carry a higher price-tag precisely because MWC schools can kickoff that late to fill such time slots on the TV schedule.
“Let me just say this, there will be 8 o’clock tipoffs and kickoffs,” Thompson said, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette. “I know that’s a concern for everybody – for fans, administrators. If we can possibly get the number 7 in there it would be a real bonus.”
Late night kickoffs have been an issue for Pac-12 schools as well in recent years and their Group of Five neighbor understands just as much the tough calculus to make between a game starting at a reasonable hour and the bigger paycheck that awaits when filling a time slot too late for most.
Thompson declined to get into much in terms of what kind of dollars the conference is expecting but it would be a surprise if it’s not a hefty raise over their current deals with ESPN and CBS Sports. Interestingly the commissioner noted that for as successful as the MWC has been this year, the kind of on-field performance that comes with knocking off several of their Power Five brethren isn’t really a factor in negotiations.
While there are a lot of unknowns as a result with the upcoming TV deal in terms of years, money and partners, it was already revealed earlier this year that Boise State’s sweetheart carve-out that pays the Broncos extra money will remain once the new contracts are signed. That carve-out dates back to when the school briefly left for the Big East but decided to remain in the MWC during one of the many rounds of conference realignment.
Industry observers and conference fans are anxiously awaiting details given how long the process has played out but it seems everybody won’t have to wait much longer before things become official out West.
There aren’t very many Power Five leagues that can claim a winning record against the SEC over the past several years. At least one Group of Five conference can puff out its chest and make that claim, though.
To get where this post is ultimately headed, though, we’re forced to deal with the following: 1-4 UNLV at 1-4 Vanderbilt. In a battle of non-conference lightweights whose head coaches are very much on the hot seat, the Rebels jumped out to a 24-10 halftime lead and never looked back, cruising to a 34-10 win over the Commodores.
UNLV, whose only previous win this season came against FCS Southern Utah in the opener, scored on every drive of the first half with the exception of the last, a possession in which they essentially took a running knee after taking over the ball in their own territory with under two minutes left in the second quarter. In its scoreless second half, Vandy’s possessions went as follows: punt, interception, fumble, turnover on downs, turnover on downs, turnover on downs.
With that as a backdrop, the Mountain West Conference has officially finished the 2019 season with a 3-2 record against the not-so-mighty (for the most part) of the mighty SEC.