Pro UNLV: Rebels present another challenge on winding road to postseason berth

The student body exhaled a sigh of relief at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus now that the football season is over.Well, almost. They still have two games remaining.

The sad reality is that football is just a forgotten memory now with zero home games remaining, another losing record and, of course, basketball season.

The fans at UNLV have seen a team practically get worse week after week. The promise that had once been associated with the season after the heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin disappeared when Colorado State and the wind blew away any chances for more than just a two-win season.

It’s the same story every year and has been for the three years in UNLV head coach Mike Sanford’s term.

The football team comes in with enormous amounts of fanfare, promises of change and, my personal favorite, predictions of bowl eligibility.

Then the season plays out like clock work: UNLV beats a team they should beat, lose a tough game against a team UNLV has no business competing with and then a blowout by another great team. Somewhere after that comes another win in conference and a 2-10 season is produced.

And like always, fans begin mumbling when basketball season starts and when the promises of wins don’t come true, and this season was no different.

Simply put, if UNLV wants to win back its fans that have lost faith in the program, it cannot wait until next year. It has to start on Saturday against TCU.

TCU hasn’t had the season that came with predictions of beating Texas and crashing the BCS’ exclusive party, and just scratching and clawing their way toward bowl eligibility. UNLV can play the spoiler and throw a huge wrench in the Horned Frogs’ post season plans.

Regardless of the result, the same thing will happen at UNLV – fans won’t care. The Rebels can upset TCU, and somehow UNLV fans would justify that they got lucky somehow, and state TCU wasn’t having the season they were expecting. The other would just come with the typical UNLV apathy, “Oh, the football team lost again. When’s the next basketball home game?”

UNLV football is just the second billing to basketball on this campus. Unless the team can string together wins, it will always be the gap filler between the two basketball seasons, where fans come to see the visiting team rather than their own.

However, a win Saturday can start the slow process of winning over fans’ trust in the team, but many won’t be holding their breath.