What's Tony Sanchez putting in the Las Vegas kool-aid?
The journey out of the Mountain West cellar for UNLV football is a tall task, but Sanchez, a month away from his first game as head coach of the Rebels, has injected excitment into the program not seen for years. While the former Bishop Gorman head coach has made tremendous gains regarding the 2016 recruiting class, perhaps his biggest success so far has been hiring defensive coordinator Kent Baer away from Colorado in December.
Baer is well traveled, having coached at top programs all over the country. His 40-plus year career has seen stops at Cal, Arizona State, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Washington. He's been the defensive coordinator at Colorado since 2013.
While it may be easy to point to Colorado's ranking of 111 of 125 teams in total defense last season as a catalyst for Baer's departure, it's worth noting that Buffaloes head coach MIke MacIntyre said he wasn't planning on making any staffing changes. What's really startling however, is the money Baer likely left on the table to come to Las Vegas.
Last season with Colorado, Baer was paid $457,500, not much less than the $500,000 Sanchez will make annually as head coach of the Rebels. Baer's salary for the coming season has not yet been revealed, but as a point of reference last season's highest paid UNLV assistant made $170,000. Sanchez spoke with Campus Insiders about the conversation that brought Baer to the Vegas Valley.
"I was bouncing a lot of questions off him as far as hiring my defensive coordinator. He told me to come meet him," Sanchez said. "He was in town, so we sat down. ... We hung out and chatted for bit.
"After I told him what we were going to do, where the program is going and my plan for attack, he looked at me and said, ‘How about me?' " Sanchez then said, " ‘I can't afford you.' Baer countered by saying, " ‘Don't worry about it. I'm excited to be a part of something special.' It's great having him."
Baer will get his first crack at leading the UNLV defense when the Rebels kick off the 2015 season Saturday, September 5th at Northern Illinois.