Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

Email Patrick.

UNLV's only tradition in football is losing

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: August 28, 2013 - 10:49 AM

The Minnesota Gophers open their 130th football season on Thursday night against UNLV. There were football teams that played a total of five games in 1882 and 1883, there was no team fielded in 1884-85, and then football became an annual event starting in 1886.

By 1951, Minnesota had won enough and was so invested in its football that Bernie Bierman, the legendary Grey Eagle, had been run off after the 1950 season (and a 1-7-1). His replacement was Wes Fesler, who had quit a few weeks earlier at Ohio State.

And you know what was happening with UNLV in 1951? Twenty-eight students were meeting in an anteroom of a high school auditorium to take extension classes from the University of Nevada located in Reno. In 1954, the Nevada Board of Regents started the Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. To get a degree, students had to spend at least one semester attending classes at the main campus in Reno.

The branch school in Las Vegas didn't have its first building until 1957. It was named in honor of Maude Frazier, a state assemblywoman.

Don't you love that name ... Maude? Can't remember the last time I was introduced to a baby dressed in pink and named Maude.

The school started going by the name Nevada Southern. The first commencement ceremony was held in 1964. That's why UNLV is celebrating this as its 50th anniversary school year ... although the school wouldn't be independent and start using the name University of Nevada-Las Vegas until 1969.

The first football team was fielded in the fall of 1968. The Rebels played as an independent for 14 seasons: first in the NCAA's College Divison through 1972, in Division II through 1977, and then to Division 1A (now FBS) as a football independent through 1981. The Rebels were 45-13 in five seasons in Division II, and 29-15 in four seasons as a 1A independent.

The Rebels joined the Pacific Coast Athletic Association in 1982. UNLV was 11-2 with a coach named Harvey Hyde and a quarterback named Randall Cunningham in 1984.

And then the Rebels started losing.

UNLV left the Big West for the tougher WAC in 1996, and it has been in the tougher-still Mountain West since 1999, and the football inpetitude for the past three decades has been spectacular.

Jeff Horton, the interim coach here after the Gophers fired Tim Brewster in 2010, was a success at Nevada (the one in Reno). He took the job at UNLV in 1994, went 7-5 in his first season and then 6-39 over the next four.

UNLV fired Horton and convinced John Robinson, the Southern Cal legend, to take the job. "If John Robinson can't win in football at Las Vegas, nobody will,'' came the conventional wisdom.

Robinson had one winning season in six years and quit after going 2-9 in 2005.

Mike Sanford, an assistant at Stanford with a strong resume in big-time football, replaced Robinson. He went 16-43 and was fired after the 2009 season.

Bobby Hauck, a big success in Division IAA at Montana, replaced Sanford. He's won two games (6-32) overall in his three seasons.

The Rebels were picked in a vote by the media to finish fifth in the six-team West Division of the Mountain West. If that turns out to be accurate, Hauck will be the next coach to be run out.

They have a stretch of nine straight losing seasons and are 24-84. And since Harvey Hyde's season of glory in 1984, UNLV has had four winning records (6-5, 6-5, 7-5 and 8-5) in 28 seasons.

That means even a Gophers' follower can look at the Rebels and say, "Dang, are they terrible.''






Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60


question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters