Posted by Jerry Hinnen
There aren't many FBS programs more downtrodden than UNLV, who haven't had a winning season or played in a bowl game since 2000 and have won more than two games only twice in the past seven seasons. Clearly, the Runnin' Rebels are in need of something big to turn the program around.
Fortunately, it looks like that something may be on its way. The Las Vegas Sun has reported that plans will be unveiled next week to build a "multipurpose sports and entertainment complex near campus," one that will include a domed stadium and be funded by Los Angeles billionaire Ed Roski as part of a "public-private partnership."
No timetable for the completion of the project (or its groundbreaking ,for that matter) appears to be set at this time.
The stadium will replace the off-campus Sam Boyd Stadium as UNLV's home football venue and -- one would have to assume, though the report doesn't raise the issue -- could take over as the host for the annual MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. It could prove to be a huge boon to the Rebels on several fronts; not only will the new facilities no doubt be a huge help for recruiting purposes, but a lively crowd and better atmosphere in a stadium much, much closer to campus could tip a few close home games in the Rebels' direction that tipped elsewhere at Sam Boyd.
Then again, the current edition of the Rebels -- 2-11 in Bobby Hauck's first year, with the only wins coming at home over fellow MWC sad-sacks Wyoming and New Mexico -- wouldn't be able to win if Jerry Jones had built his Dallas football space palace on their doorstep. It's going to take a lot more to revive UNLV football than a shiny new building.
But there's also no doubt that Hauck will take whatever help he can get, and certainly a state-of-the-art facility like the one Roski is proposing would be an awful lot of help indeed.