Preview 2017: Will UNLV Ever Have Any Luck?
UNLV football always seems like it’s about to turn a corner. Is this the year it actually happens?
Las Vegas built those amazing hotels and casinos on the idea that everyone believes they’re just one lucky break away from hitting it big – and then not.
The UNLV football program always seems like it should be better. It always seems like it’s about to turn a corner and become a player in the Mountain West, and it always seems like it just needs that one lucky break to come its way for it all to start working.
Will that break be the Raiders coming to Vegas? Will that mean a bigger and better stadium to pitch to recruits? Will head coach Tony Sanchez generate some momentum with one big breakthrough season to suddenly make this one of the Mountain West’s hot programs?
Can Sanchez find a niche to sell, like San Diego State with its defense, Wyoming with head coach Craig Bohl’s current run of pro prospect quarterbacks, or New Mexico with its ground game?
This isn’t as easy as you might think. It’s not easy to push Las Vegas on national recruits.
Remember, most college football players – even when they hit the right age – don’t have money to hit the tables, go to shows, or do most of the other fun things the city has to offer. There’s no real history or legacy to sell, and there hasn’t been enough success to build on.
The program has had one winning season since 2000 and just four since 1986. But Sanchez is pushing.
The legend at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas – going 85-5 in six years with six state titles – is trying to create his own foundation to build on. But after going 7-17 in his first two seasons, it hasn’t been easy.
Again, there has to be a hook. There has to be an identity. The running game has worked well so far, but it’s hard to keep grinding it out when the defense is getting hammered for almost 37 points a game.
This year, the offense should be stronger thanks to a potential upgrade at quarterback to go along with a healthier receiving corps, but the defense needs an overhaul in the back seven at linebacker and safety.
And the program needs that big break. Luck will play a part in it, but it’s also the year when Sanchez needs to create that break with an improved team.