Team preview: UNLV

Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2005 college football season, exclusively on Insider.

Updated: July 26, 2005, 3:59 PM ET
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Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at all 119 Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2005 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(All information as of July 1, 2005)

COACH AND PROGRAM


There is nothing subtle about Las Vegas.

Home to dancing fountains and dancing showgirls, white tigers and Blue Men, it is the only place in the world where a brief taxi tour of the Strip whisks a visitor past an Egyptian pyramid, an exploding volcano, a floating pirate ship and scaled-down versions of the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty.

New UNLV head coach Mike Sanford is hoping to add another attraction to the cityscape in 2005: Rebels football.

Not just any old football, but in a style befitting the glitz and glamour of its locale, a thrilling and fan-friendly "shotgun spread" offense and a blitzing, attacking defense.

"I really feel that there is an excitement and expectation around town about Rebel football," said Sanford, 50, in his first head coaching position after an outstanding career as one of the top assistants in the nation.

"The UNLV job was one I looked upon with great respect over the years. Because of the way this university and city are emerging, this football program is a gold mine. This is a great community and campus that offer so many opportunities and advantages."

He takes the reins from his former college coach, legendary John Robinson, after spending the last two seasons as an innovative offensive coordinator at Utah, which went 22-2 (13-1 in the Mountain West) in 2003-04. The Utes finished No. 4 in the nation last year and made history with a BCS bowl victory.

Sanford believes his coaching staff can quickly revive a program coming off a 2-9 season and a last-place conference finish.