Basketball season tips OFF in two months. Just keep repeating that over and over, because short of picking some winners at the sportsbook, that might be the only positive Vegas-related sports news you hear for a while. Yes, football season has barely gotten under way, but it might already be time to punt on our local teams.
“This is all-time bad.” That was UNLV coach Bobby Hauck last year after the Rebels lost 41-16 at home to Division 1-AA opponent Southern Utah. Perhaps he should have downplayed the loss, because UNLV found an even lower rung Sept. 8 with its 17-14 home defeat to Northern Arizona, another lower-division foe, one that hadn’t beaten a Division 1 team since 1987 and didn’t have its starting quarterback.
It’s not inconceivable that the Rebels could be 0-9 going into their Nov. 3 home game against New Mexico, which gained its only win of 2011 against UNLV. Already there is speculation among fans and media about whether Hauck, who is 4-23 at UNLV, will last the season. Those in still darker moods wonder whether UNLV should continue with an expensive program that hasn’t had a winning season in a dozen years.
But the Rebels’ future looks downright promising when compared with Las Vegas’ professional franchise, the Locomotives of the United Football League. The four-team league, which is entering its fourth year, has a TV contract with CBS Sports Network, but also plenty of unresolved financial and legal issues.
The biggest question facing the two-time UFL champion Locos, who lost to Virginia in the title game last year, is where they will play. The Locos still owe UNLV $80,000 for last year’s use of Sam Boyd Stadium, although that debt has reportedly been negotiated down to $35,000. Locos coach and general manager Jim Fassel has been adamant that the team will return to Sam Boyd this year, but Thomas & Mack Center executive director Mike Newcomb (who also oversees Sam Boyd) says that while an agreement is in place, “if prior financial obligations are not met … then we wouldn’t host their games.”
In the meantime, the UFL has pushed back the start of its eight-week regular season from Sept. 19 to Sept. 26, and training camps have yet to open.
“These things don’t come together easily,” Fassel says. “We’ve got issues we have to solve, but we’ll solve them.”
If you find the answers, Coach, please let the Rebels know, too.