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Time For UNLV To Move Beyond Tark-Era Coaches?

(AP Photo/Ed Reinke, FIle)

In this April 2, 1990, file photo, UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian chews on his towel while watching his team play Duke in the championship game of the NCAA college basketball Final Four in Denver.

It's been 26 years since the UNLV Runnin' Rebels won the national college basketball championship.

That win, and Coach Jerry Tarkanian's tradition of winning at UNLV, ties the Las Vegas community together. It brought recognition to the university. It made people proud to live here.

But those days are long passed.

This year, Coach Dave Rice, who was a player on those Jerry Tarkanian-led teams, left mid-season.

And the Rebels failed again to make the March Madness tournament.

Now UNLV is looking for a new coach. Earlier this week, someone paid for a full-page advertisement in the Las Vegas Review-Journal urging UNLV to hire another Tarkanian-era player, Stacey Augmon, as the new coach.

But is it, perhaps, time to move on, to look ahead instead of reaching into the past?

Mitch Moss, a host of ESPN Las Vegas radio, knows UNLV basketball more than many people. 

He told KNPR's State of Nevada that hiring Stacey Augmon would be good for ticket sales because he would be a known name, but down that road that is not enough. 

"But what does that mean two or three years down the road, because as you well know in this city people are not very patient," Moss said.

Moss said the head coaching job at UNLV is a "really good job," maybe not a great job. But he believes mistakes were made in choosing the right coach for the program.

"Now, it's going to come down to getting it right," he said, "You have to have faith in the people making those decisions and the people with the money are going to get it right with that guy."

Moss said his pick for the "right guy" is Rick Pitino. Moss doesn't think it is out of the realm of possibilities to get the current Louisville Cardinals coach and the former coach of Kentucky Wildcats. 

He also believes UNLV could count on trips to the NCAA tournament with Pitino as head coach. 

Mitch Moss, host, ESPN Radio

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.