UPDATE December 17, 2014 : Sanchez unanimously approved by UNLV board of regeants

As of this afternoon, Tony Sanchez has been unanimously approved to start his 4-year, $2 million coaching contract for UNLV's football program.

Bishop Gorman 2014 state champions
UNLV's board of regents has unanimously approved Tony Sanchez's head coaching contract.

He's already started putting his new coaching staff in place...

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UNLV Running Rebels logo

The speculation that UNLV would hire Bishop Gorman high school coach Tony Sanchez to replace Bobby Hauck was confirmed and made official. Pending confirmation by UNLV's board of directors, Sanchez will be the next head coach of the Rebels, and will be granted a $500,000 per year salary. Starting over the next few weeks, he will have to start building his coaching staff and looking to recruit some players.

Sanchez helped establish Bishop Gorman high school as a top-ranked high school football program in the nation. He compiled an 85-5 record and won six consecutive state championships, as well as a No. 1 overall national ranking after their most recent championship. In addition to dominating Nevada schools, Gorman has also won victories against some powerhouse out-of-state schools (including beating California's #1-ranked Centennial High on their home turf), which cements their status as a top national team.

In addition to being a successful high school coach who has already turned around some high school programs, he also comes with some intangible benefits.

For one thing, he could potentially sway some of his current Bishop Gorman players to sign with UNLV, thus bringing national-caliber athletes to UNLV - something that former coaches Sanford and Hauck could not do. But this is only a temporary benefit. Within two or four years, all players who had associations with Sanchez will have graduated from Gorman, and he wouldn't have the relationship or sway with later students.

Bishop Gorman 2014 state champions
Tony Sanchez accepts Bishop Gorman's sixth straight Nevada state championship
after a 70-28 victory over Sparks High School (Reno, Nevada).

This means that expectations will be very high for Sanchez right out of the gate, especially if he can land a few top-tier recruits this coming spring.

Despite looking good on paper, this hiring is not without controversy.

There has been criticism that UNLV railroaded this job for Sanchez due to financial promises from Gorman boosters ...

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UNLV Running Rebels logo

Prior to UNLV's season-closing game against rival Nevada, head coach Bobby Hauck announced that he would be resigning after the season. It's unfortunate that Hauck couldn't accomplish more in his time at UNLV. He had a repuation as a winner at Montana, and his teams at UNLV definitely had the talent to be successful.

But the team was inconsistent, often playing well for half a game and then crashing and burning in the other half. Third quarters were real killers for UNLV this year, as the team regularly collapsed and allowed their opponents to break away after halftime. And that is exactly how UNLV lost (49-20) in Hauck's final game against rival Nevada. Hauck accumulated four seasons with only two wins, as well as one outlier year in which UNLV won seven games and earned a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's day last year (which my dad and I attended).

It's hard to tell where exactly the problem was. I had some issues with the decisions that were made by Hauck and his staff over the years. Specifically, I thought that Hauck set up former starting quarterback Nick Sherry for failure. Sherry performed well as a pocket-passer in his first few games running a west coast-style offense, and when the Rebels starting running a spread pistol formation focused around the read option, Sherry struggled. He was clearly uncomfortable as an option quarterback. He wasn't very mobile, he didn't make the right reads, and his accuracy and decision-making out of the pocket was terrible. So when Hauck continued to run that pistol spread offense, I was frustrated. Maybe Sherry handled it well enough in practice that Hauck honestly believed that he could handle it in games? But as game after game went by, and Sherry just kept looking worse and worse, it should have become obvious that he and that offense did not fit together.

Nevada takes the Freemont Cannon
UNLV collapsed in the third quarter to lose the Freemont Cannon to rival Nevada.
A sadly fitting - and representative - conclusion to Bobby Hauck's tenure at UNLV.

But UNLV's players didn't make Hauck's job easier. Both the offense and defense were horribly inconsistent year in and year out. It's hard to tell if that was the result of bad coaching or just bad players. But there was definitely some physical talent on the field. UNLV has had a quality receiving corp during most of Hauck's tenure, but aside from Caleb Herring, they just didn't have a quarterback that could reliably get them the ball. And even when the ball was on the mark, those receivers still dropped quite a few of them. The offensive line had trouble stopping blitzes, and the defense struggled to fill gaps and make tackles, leading to opponents regularly accumulating over 200 yards rushing against UNLV.

So it's difficult for me to be able to say with any degree of confidence whether Hauck was unfit for the job.

In any case, Hauck has decided that he and UNLV are not a good fit for each other, and he is moving on. UNLV will now have to search for a new head coach, ...

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Chicago Bears alt logo

I was looking forward to a breakout year for the Bears. I even drafted Jay Cutler in one of the later rounds in one of my fantasy football leagues expecting him to have his best season ever and be a top-tier quarterback. All the pieces were in place. And the defense being a liability seemed to be even more promising, since Cutler would have to play from behind more often, giving him plenty of opportunity to put up huge numbers.

But then the season started, and my excitement was almost completely squashed by losing the season opener in overtime to the Bills.

But I never feared it would get this bad!

The Bears have only three wins in the first ten weeks of the season, and the past three losses have been embarrassing. A loss to the Dolphins in which the Bears couldn't even score more than 14 points. And now two straight games against the Patriots and Packers that were both over by halftime. And the loss to the Packers came after a bye!

The Bears are failing at every level of play. The offense can't move the ball or score points. Special teams hasn't done anything special. And teams are cutting through the Bears' defense like butter. The defense at least has the excuse of injuries. Charles Tillman is out for the year, and Lance Briggs just returned from a multi-week injury. But that doesn't justify giving up over 100 points in two weeks, nor does it justify the defense being the statistically worst defense that the team has ever had in its 90-plus-year history.

Bears - 23 | Patriots - 51 : Rob Gronkowski scores a TD Bears - 14 | Packers - 55 : Jordy Nelson wide open TD reception
The Bears' defense has set franchise records for awfulness.

But as bad as the defense is, it wasn't expected to be very good. New coach Mark Trestman is an offense-oriented coach, and the defense is old and has lost some of its best talent (like Brian Urlacher).

What is disappointing is that despite being the most "talented" and hyped offense that the team has ever seen, the offense is completely inept. It's as bad as the post-SuperBowl Rex Grossman offense!

The Bears don't even look like a professional football team right now.

There's two obvious scape-goats here: coach Mark Trestman, or quarterback Jay Cutler.

Cutler has been inconsistent and oft criticized, but his apologists always said that he needed a better offensive coach...

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 12:00 AM

Devin Hester becomes the best ever!

in Sports | Chicago Bears by MegaBearsFan

He may not be a Chicago Bear anymore, but Atlanta Falcons kick returner Devin Hester is still one of my favorite NFL players, and he made headlines this past week. Hester returned a punt for a touchdown in Atlanta's Thursday night blowout win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in doing so, he surpassed Deion Sanders and became the sole record-holder for most combined return touchdowns in NFL history.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons - Devin Hester 20th return TD
Devin Hester returned his record-breaking 20th return for a touchdown Thursday against the Buccaneers.

Hester has been one of my favorite players since he burst onto the scene in Chicago in 2006. I was in college and starting to watch NFL football on a more regular basis (as opposed to just playing Madden), and Hester was one of the reasons that I started putting aside the time to actually watch Bears games. Any time Hester touched the ball, there was a chance for an exciting big play, and I wanted to be there for every one of them! I hoped for defensive stops (Brian Urlacher was another of my favorite players to watch) so that I could watch teams kick the ball to Hester.

Geez, he was fast! And it seemed that every week, he was returning another kick (or two) for a touchdown, single-handedly putting the struggling Bears back into games and making them playoff contenders.

I still vividly remember a Monday night game in Arizona the week after my birthday, in which Chicago came back from a 20-0 half-time deficit to win the game - without scoring a single offensive touchdown! In the second half, Brian Urlacher stripped the ball from Arizona's running back, and Charles Tillman returned it for a touchdown to put the Bears within one score of pulling off the comeback. The game was eventually decided by a fourth-quarter punt that Hester (then a rookie) returned 83 yards for a game-winning touchdown.

Cardinals head coach Dennis Green followed up the game with one of the best post game, press conference rants in football history. I even have a T-shirt of this speech!...

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UNLV Running Rebels logo

This weekend, I had the displeasure of sitting through one of the most disappointingly ugly football games that I've ever seen. UNLV squeked out a 13-12 victory over the Division II college football team Northern Colorado, in a game in which UNLV was favored by over 25 points. UNLV came into the season with high expectations after making it to a bowl game last year, but this weekend's game may have shattered those expectations for me.

I wasn't terribly worried after week 1's lopsided defeat at the hands of Arizona. UNLV was facing a tough PAC-12 foe that I didn't expect UNLV to seriously compete with. But this week's game against a Division II school was [for me] the benchmark for the season. If UNLV blew them out, then there season would seem to have potential. But if UNLV lost this game, then they would look like the same Rebels team that struggled to win 2 games in Hauck's first three years as head coach.

UNLV's Blake Decker loses his helmet

Losing his helmet was the least of quarterback Blake Decker's worries.

What I got instead was a very indecisive, nail-biting victory that has left me very unsure as a fan.

UNLV's offense looked abysmal all game long, as starting quarterback Blake Decker's poor decisions almost threw the game away. Fortunately, the defense played well enough to hold on, and Norther Colorado's special teams failed to make the plays that could have won them the game.

There was one play early in the game that stood out to me as a bad omen. Hauck called a reverse flea flicker gadget play while UNLV was up 7-0 in the first quarter. The pass was intercepted, and seemed to give Northern Colorado a burst of adrenaline ...

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Welcome to Mega Bears Fan's blog, and thanks for visiting! This blog is mostly dedicated to game reviews, strategies, and analysis of my favorite games. I also talk about my other interests, like football, science and technology, movies, and so on. Feel free to read more about the blog.

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