Crowd of more than 3,000 on hand to watch Rebels.
UNLV football wrapped up its second week of spring practices.
Two UNLV Football position groups learning under new coaches.
Visiting teams wins for fifth consecutive season in in-state battle.
UNLV rushes for 401 yards in 69-66 triple overtime win over Wyoming
Named to the job by UNLV Director of Athletics Tina Kunzer-Murphy on Dec. 11, 2014, Sanchez guided the Rebels to three victories in his first season, which marked only the fourth time in the last 12 years that the program won more than two games. The first Rebel coach to win at least three times in his first season since Hall of Famer John Robinson in 1999, Sanchez’s debut season was highlighted by defeating in-state rival Nevada, Reno on the road and bringing home the famed Fremont Cannon to the UNLV campus. Under the new staff, the Rebels also became competitive on a near-weekly basis, either leading or trailing by just a touchdown during the fourth quarter in nine of their 12 games.
Sanchez, who turned 42 in January, became a rising star in coaching circles after spending the previous six seasons leading Bishop Gorman to an overall record of 85-5 and six consecutive state 4A championships to go with a top-25 national ranking each year. His 2014 top-ranked Gaels squad finished 15-0 and won the mythical national championship.
“I’m fired up and ready to create excitement in the Las Vegas community and make the Rebels everybody’s football team,” Sanchez said on the day he was hired. “UNLV is a great university. With this community’s help, we’re going to make it a great football place.”
Sanchez was well decorated for his efforts in his final season with the Gaels, being named USA TODAY’s All-USA Coach of the Year as well as the U.S. Army All-American Bowl National Coach of the Year and the Rawlings National High School Coach of the Year. His overall record as a head coach was 120-26 after having also spent five seasons leading California High School in San Roman, Calif., before coming to Southern Nevada. He also was part of staffs at Onate High School in Las Cruces, N.M., and Irvin High School in El Paso, Texas.
The winning head coach at the 2014 All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Sanchez saw 41 of his players earn collegiate football scholarships during his time in Las Vegas, including 31 to FBS programs. Now he has attracted national attention as only the fifth man in the modern era of college football to go from the high school level directly to the position of head coach of an FBS team.
“We are delighted to welcome Tony Sanchez as the head football coach at UNLV,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “We aren’t changing the coach of our program, we are changing our program. In Las Vegas, we aren’t afraid to take a bold approach to responding to challenges and this qualifies. We have been talking about changing the entire culture of this program and that’s what this announcement signifies. With the support of the University and of our community, we are confident Tony Sanchez is the right person to make a lasting change in UNLV Football.”
Sanchez’s first major statement as the leader of the Rebels was to quickly attract a top-notch, experienced staff that was highlighted by Nebraska offensive coordinator Barney Cotton and Colorado defensive coordinator Kent Baer.
“I’m excited about this staff because of the years of experience and also the success that they’ve had in their careers,” Sanchez said. “Bringing this group of gentlemen in not only gives us excellent football coaches but also great mentors to our kids and people who will represent this University in a positive way.”
Dividends from the impressive list of assistants joining Sanchez began immediately as just over a month later, the group secured a recruiting class that was ranked in the upper half of the Mountain West Conference by multiple national outlets. One year later, the Rebels’ class was one of the program’s best ever as it included a school-record 10 three-star signees.
One of the youngest head coaches on the FBS level, Sanchez is a 1992 graduate of Granada High School in Livermore, Calif. A decorated two-way player, he went on to become a standout receiver at Laney College in Oakland before transferring to New Mexico State. He would letter two seasons for the Aggies and finished his senior campaign with 42 receptions for 546 yards, including grabbing five passes for 80 yards at Sam Boyd Stadium when he played against UNLV on Nov. 18, 1995. His first taste of coaching came the next season when he served as an undergraduate assistant at his alma mater.
The son of a career policeman in the Oakland area, Sanchez was born Jan. 25, 1974, at Travis Air Force Base in California while his father was serving in the military. He earned a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science from NMSU in 1998 and then his master’s in special education in 2003. He and his wife, Tessie, have two children: daughter, Alyssa, and son, Jason.
THE TONY SANCHEZ FILE
PLAYING EXPERIENCE 1994-95 New Mexico State - Lettered two years at wide receiver 1992-93 Laney College (Oakland, CA) - Lettered two years at wide receiver
SANCHEZ YEAR-BY-YEAR RECORD AT BISHOP GORMAN YEAR OVERALL POSTSEASON 2014 15-0 4A State Champions 2013 13-2 4A State Champions 2012 13-1 4A State Champions 2011 16-0 4A State Champions 2010 13-2 4A State Champions 2009 15-0 4A State Champions TOT 85-5 (.944) 6 Seasons
EDUCATION New Mexico State University, 2003 Master's degree in special education
New Mexico State University, 1998 Bachelor's degree in family and consumer science
Laney College (Oakland, CA), 1994 Associate Degree in General Studies
PERSONAL DATA Name: Tony Sanchez Birthdate: Jan. 25, 1974 Birthplace: Travis Air Force Base, Fairfield, Calif. Wife: Tessie Children: Daughter, Alyssa; Son, Jason