UNLV announced today that Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo will fill its head coaching vacancy, (first reported and confirmed by Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal). The 39-year old, Sacramento native will be the 12th head coach in UNLV Football history, and will lead the Rebels into the new Allegiant Stadium.
“UNLV Athletics is a department on the rise, and my family and I are thrilled to be a part of the Rebel family during this special time,” said Arroyo in a press release from UNLV. “We will work tirelessly to elevate UNLV Football to the championship caliber program that it is positioned to be. I can’t wait to get started, and I look forward to meeting our student-athletes, support staff, and fans.”
Arroyo and UNLV Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois have a connection from their time at San Jose State. When Arroyo was the quarterback, Reed-Francois was the Director of Compliance at San Jose State.
“We set out to find a teacher and a competitor with the character, competence, energy and intellect to bring out the best in our 105 young men and recruit and develop the next group of Rebel football student-athletes, Reed-Francois said in the press release. “We looked for a leader that is a great evaluator of talent, who can sell what makes UNLV, our community, and our program unique, and helps develop and prepare our student-athletes for the next level.”
Reports surfaced last night that LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda had emerged as the leading candidate. In fact, the Associated Press reported that UNLV had offered Aranda its head coaching position. However, the Review-Journal had a story that denied those reports. Aranda was making 2.5 million dollars with the Tigers. Those walks with UNLV were likely agent driven, as he did a similar thing in 2018 when Texas A&M wanted him as their defensive coordinator and he received a pay raise.
Arroyo spent his last two seasons at offensive coordinator at Oregon where, during his tenure, the offense was ranked in the top-25 (25th in 2018 and 15th this year), in points per game. This past season, the Ducks averaged 183.3 rushing yards per game and 267.4 passing yards. In the last two seasons, the Ducks had the top-ranked recruiting class in the PAC-12. Prior to his time at Oregon he was the running backs coach at Oklahoma State.
The Mountain West Conference is not uncharted water for Arroyo. He was the offensive coordinator and quarterback at Wyoming from 2009-2010. Prior to that, he was at San Jose State. He played quarterback there for four years, and coached for five seasons. He was a graduate assistant, quarterbacks coach, and co-offensive coordinator.
There is always some critique of any new hire. For Arroyo, the question is if he can do more with less. The teams he was a part of at the Power 5 level had success. However, the teams he worked with at San Jose State and Wyoming did not fare as well. In his two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Wyoming, the Cowboys went 10-15 (they did win a bowl game in 2009).
What will be different from his time at Wyoming and San Jose State will be the facilities. As mentioned earlier, the Rebels will be playing their football games at the new Allegiant Stadium on the Las Vegas strip, that they will share with the Raiders. Along with the new stadium there is the new Fertitta Football Complex on campus. Arroyo will have the pieces to build a solid Mountain West Football program, we will see in time if he can put the pieces together.
The hire continues a trend for UNLV’s athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois hiring young and up-and-coming head coaches. This marks her fifth hire for a head coaching position and all coaches, at the time of hiring, have been under the age of 42, (Kristie Fox-Softball, Dawn Sullivan-Women’s Volleyball, T.J. Otzelberger-Men’s Basketball, and Jenny Ruiz-Williams-Women’s Soccer). Only two coaches, Fox and Otzelberger, have had some previous head coaching experience.
Now, Arroyo must find and keep some commits for the early 2019 signing period. We will see if he is able to recruit talent to UNLV to improve the defense and add more weapons on offense. Former coach Tony Sanchez said in his press conference that fans need to give the new guy time, and the Rebels must give Arroyo time. UNLV has a tough non-conference schedule next season with California-Berkeley, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech, and Iowa State, which makes next year a rebuilding year. Just like in basketball, the big test will be year two, but that is far down the road and Arroyo will have plenty of challenges he will face once the introductory press conference is over.
UNLV announced that there will be a press conference to introduce Arroyo Friday at 11 a.m. in the Gaughan Family Dining Hall at the Fertitta Football Complex.