Now that TJ Otzelberger is officially on his way to Ames, who could be the next coach of the Rebels?
UNLV will embark on its 3rd head coaching search in 5 years.
Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois will elect to not use a search firm this time around.
On Thursday morning the UNLV faithful finally got the confirmation they were looking for after almost 48 hours of speculation, indeed TJ Otzelberger is off to Ames to be the head coach of the Iowa State Cyclones. There are a ton of names being floated around out there as of now. Here are the candidates that make the most sense:
TODD SIMON – Southern Utah
Simon, who just finished his fifth season in Cedar City, Utah, is coming off a 20-win season and a Big Sky coach of the year award. His connection to UNLV and Southern Nevada are oozing onto the Thomas and Mack Center floor.
He was an assistant on two occasions, including being interim head coach after Dave Rice was shown the door in 2016, as well as the head man in Henderson at Findlay Prep. He inherited a six-win Southern Utah team when he arrived and has made them better record-wise in every year thereafter. He wasn’t really considered last time around, that could change in the coming days to weeks.
STEVE LAVIN – FOX, CBS and Pac 12 networks
Lavin hasn’t coached since 2015 with St. Johns, where he went 81-53 in five seasons however sources indicate that Lavin is yet again interested to be the next leader in Las Vegas. His coaching profile is impressive, (226 wins, 9 postseason tourney appearances, four Sweet 16, and an Elite 8 appearances) while mostly with UCLA in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Lavin could use his connections to both coasts to rejuvenate a fan base that seems to have lost all faith in a solid coaching search.
TIM MILES – Analyst for Fox and Big 10 network
If Rebel fans are looking for someone who knows the Mountain West Conference and has a terrific personality, here’s your guy. While Miles coaching record won’t blow anyone away, (71-88 while in the Mountain West) he took a seven-win Colorado State team and made them better every season before leaving to go to Nebraska. While it didn’t work out in Lincoln, sources have indicated that Miles is itching to coach again.
KEVIN KRUGER – Assistant coach UNLV
Many fans seem to be calling on Kruger’s name to be the next head coach at UNLV due to his connection to the university by already being on the staff. He has only been an assistant coach for five seasons (three with his father Lon at Oklahoma and two in Las Vegas under Otzelberger’s staff) but has no head coaching experience. By hiring Kruger, Reed-Francois may be able to retain some of this team’s roster (if that’s even the best option) while gaining credibility and interest in the community.
There are a lot of high profile names being thrown around. However based on the last search two years, ago done by the same athletic director, most people believe it’s going to be an up and comer. It could also an ex-coach who is currently an analyst or even from a lower-tier Division 1 school. Any way you break it down, it should be a very interesting week or two in Las Vegas.