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.
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 (such as Station Casino owners, the Fertitta family), and that UNLV didn't even seriously consider other candidates. If this is true, then it is a damn shame, since UNLV might have had the most qualified candidate possible sitting right under their noses: Jim Fassel.
Fassel is a retired NFL head coach who took the New York Giants to the Superbowl, and he coached two UFL champtionship teams in Las Vegas. So not only can he win at the highest levels of football, but he can also win in Las Vegas and is committed to the city and community!
He's already turned down NFL coaching jobs because he doesn't want to leave Las Vegas, so UNLV would be confident that he would remain with the team for the long-term, and not abandon the university for a better job offer after a couple years of success. He has also expressed a fondness for rebuilding teams and turning them into successful programs. He sees it as a fun challenge, and he has the skills and knowledge to get it done.
Of course, Fassel's impressive credentials might also mean that he'd have high salary demands. A high salary that UNLV might not be willing to pay (at least until the program shows consistent signs of improvement).
UNLV might also feel that they are in no rush to land Fassel. After all, he's already said that he isn't going anywhere. If Sanchez flops within three or five years, then UNLV can still probably consider Fassel as available (albeight older). Or just mothball the program altogether. Sanchez, on the other hand, would probably be snagged by a university sooner or later.
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.
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: Cedric Cormier (instrumental in recruiting UNLV's all-time leading rusher Tim Cornett, and receiver Devante Davis) will remain as wide receivers coach. Sanchez's quarterback coach from Gorman, Ron O'Dell, will accompany Sanchez to UNLV. Barney Cotton and John Garrison from Nebraska will become the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, respecitively. Sanchez has a relationship with Cotton, since Cotton was the offensive coordinator at New Mexico when Sanchez played as a receiver there. Cotton was also the interim head coach during the Cornhusker's recent bowl game.
Sanchez will announce his defensive coaching staff choices later this week.
Now let's see if any of his former Gorman players follow him to UNLV as well...