Know your enemy: UNLV edition

UNLV Special Collections

"The best weapon against an enemy is another enemy." —Friedrich Nietzsche

KYE UNLV

When the Broncos take the field Saturday it might look to some like a funeral procession. That's because the squad will be donning their Nike dress blacks to take on the UNLV Rebels in the Broncos' 3rd conference game of the year. No one knows quite what to make of the Rebels, who have just one win on the season, but have looked game in every loss. One might say the same thing of the 5-1 Broncos, who seem to get one, maybe two, phases going for each game so far. Will the Broncos put it all together on Saturday in their black unis or will we grumble our way to 6-1? No one will really know until Saturday, but in the meantime, you can get to know UNLV a bit better through useless trivia and factoids. Know this enemy well, because next year we probably won't know them at all.

Ten things Bronco fans might not know about the UNLV or their arid abode


10) Las Vegas, Nevada was established in 1905 and incorporated in 1911, but it had been a stopover for European explorers and westward settlers all the way back to the mid-19th century. The name Las Vegas was given by Spaniard Antonio Armijo and either means "the meadows" or "$2.99 Seafood Buffet". Early on, the city was a lot less glitzy and a lot less crimey. In fact, early on the settlement was rather Mormony—with Brigham Young deploying scores of missionaries to the area to convert the Paiute Indians (rather than bring gifts of blankets, they brought Jell-O casseroles and funeral potatoes). It wasn't until the '30s and '40s that Hoover Dam workers and later Manhattan Project workers helped fuel the "entertainment" aspects of the desert oasis. "Legitimate businessman" Bugsy Siegel funded most of the original gambling dens in the city and would be quite put out to see what Celine Dion has done to the joint.

9) Nevada Southern University—now UNLV—was first devised as a southern offshoot of the University of Nevada in 1951 and held their first classes at Las Vegas High School—the same school that Billy Winn attended some 50 years later—he's virtually an alum! in 1957, the Board of Regents got around to making its founding official and after another 7 years they held their first commencement. Let's see...13 years between inception and commencement; that sounds like the same college plan I was on...of course my first 3 years were spent largely playing frisbee and watching The Matrix.

8) UNLV adopted The Rebels as their official nickname on or around 1969, and according to wikipedia legend did it to take a bit of a dig at their northern rivals, the University of Nevada-Reno. Of course, the school reasoned that the best way to do this would be to adopt a mascot wearing a confederate army uniform...because that doesn't have any other connotations whatsoever. The original mascot, an anthropomorphic Wolf, was named Beauregard, but he's since become human and renamed "Hey Reb!" I believe this moniker came about when an administrator overheard the following exchange on the sidelines of a football game: "Hey Reb! Can you move out of the way? I'm trying to watch some terrible football." In 1971, the school almost dropped the Rebel nickname after deliberating on names such as the Big Horn Rams, Nuggets, A-Bombs, and Sand Burners, but ultimately decided that the "Rebels" should stay, although with a drastic makeover to make him a revolutionary war figure rather than a wolf that fought on the losing side of the Civil War. You know...because Nevada was the central focus of both the Revolutionary and the Civil Wars.

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Mustache on loan from Pat Hill...hat on loan from Boris Badenov

7) UNLV played their first collegiate football game in 1968 with coach Bill "Blarney Stone" Ireland at the helm. The team went 8-1 that first year—which merely served to get everyone's hopes up as they've only notched 18 winning seasons in the subsequent 42 years. Of course, the winningest coach in their history was near and dear to Bronco hearts—coach Tony Knap, who notched 47 victories with the Rebels...a tally that no other UNLV coach has even come within striking distance of. The late coach racked up 71 victories at Boise State—making him the winningest coach at BSU outside the JUCO era until Chris Petersen came along. Chris Petersen has 78 victories and the sick will be healed if they but touch his visor.

6) No coach has left UNLV with a winning record since Harvey Hyde did so in 1985. Hyde didn't set the college football world ablaze with his .576 win percentage, but he does have the distinction of coaching one of the best squads in UNLV history—the 11-2 1984 team—that also was one of the most ineligible teams in UNLV history, forcing them to vacate all those ill-gotten wins. Hyde stepped down after a dismal 5-5-1 campaign and took all the remaining chutzpah the program had with him as the rebs have notched just 4 winning seasons since. This sad saga disproves the old adage that "cheaters never prosper" as they seem to have been the only ones to have had any success at UNLV for quite some time.

5) Being located in Las Vegas does have its perks as Old Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra was once a foundation board member for the university. In the 1970s, Frankie organized two benefit concerts for the school and then enlisted his Rat Pack pal Dean-o to help open the Thomas & Mack Center. Those two were really just like a coupla tots, when you think about it.

4) UNLV's oldest and bitterest rival is their northern counterpart, the University of Nevada-Reno (and frankly, I'm not that fond of them myself). The Rebels have played the Wolf Pack, nearly uninterrupted, since 1969...with 15 of the contests going their way and 22 going to Reno. Annually, the two squads play for the Fremont Cannon—an actual cannon donated to the schools by the Kennecott Copper Corporation. The cannon is named after famed(?) explorer, politician, military officer, and general doer-of-things John C. Fremont, who legend has it, left a similar such cannon in a snow drift in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The cannon used to be completely functional prior to 2000, but UNLV fans attempted to lift the nearly 600 lb. armament after a victory over Nevada and subsequently dropped it (sadly not trapping Chris Ault underneath). This butterfingers move earned UNLV fans the Al Borges Award for failure to "act like you've been there before."

3) Archie C. Grant Hall, is a multipurpose facility on the campus of UNLV that was built in 1959. The building is named for a Nevada Southern regent who championed the need for a separate state college in Las Vegas and despite not being mentioned anywhere, the building has an ear on it. Honest to goodness—an ear—but that wasn't worth even a passing mention, UNLV? Come on, people this could be on of the 8 wonders of the modern world and you're leaving it to google sleuths like me to ferret out this info? Go ahead, type "Archie C. Grant Hall ear" into google and you'll get exactly bupkis...even in the image search, this photo of a Louis Armstrong album is the top result. Is UNLV trying to cover up the fact that one of their campuses oldest buildings has a human ear on it? Is there a wax problem? Did Vincent Van Gogh leave money in his will to fund the project? That's a pretty big appendage to hang out there with no explanation, UNLV. The Sphinx has no nose and it's a huge deal...Archie C. Grant Hall has an ear on it and you'd never know it except that I just told you. This is an outrage.

Acgh_medium

What, you thought I wouldn't notice?!

2) In 1960, the school's library books were moved from Maude Frazier Hall to the ear-bearing Grant Hall as the library had become overrun with rattlesnakes in the hallways, bookshelves and under desks. Personally, I think they should've just left the rattlesnakes there and just renamed the library "The Extreme Book Learning Lab sponsored by Mountain Dew"

1) TV personality and "chef" Guy Fieri is a UNLV alum. Fieri actually got his degree from UNLV in hotel management, but his life was forever changed when he accidentally dumped a bunch of bourbon on some food and then dropped it in a deep-fat fryer and then repeated this process thousands of times for "extreme" food patrons (the kind who might enjoy an extreme, rattlesnake-laden library).

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"This microphone could really use some bourbon."

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