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Promising not to wait to win and determined to reverse a culture of losing that has permeated the program for decades, Marcus Arroyo was introduced Friday as UNLV’s new head football coach.

Arroyo, 39, was previously at Oregon where he was the Ducks’ offensive coordinator. Arroyo confirmed he will be with the Ducks on New Year’s Day when they play Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

“My goal is to build a culture of accountability and toughness,” said Arroyo, who was given a five-year contract worth $6 million in base salary along with incentive bonuses for performance on and off the field. “We will win. The goal is to win championships.”

Arroyo, who played quarterback at San Jose State from 1998 to 2002, has coached at his alma mater as well as numerous stops along the way. Included were coaching stints at Wyoming, California, Southern Mississippi, Oklahoma State and Oregon. He also spent 2014 in the NBFL as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ interim offensive coordinator.

“We found someone who is smart, who is tough and who is determined,” said UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois of her decision to hire Arroyo. “We set out find a leader and a teacher with the capacity to lead our young men. I have seen his character first-hand. He has prepared for this role his whole career.”

Arroyo replaces Tony Sanchez, who went 20-40 in his five-year run at UNLV.

While Arroyo inherits a program that has one of the top training facilities in the Mountain West in the $34 million Fertitta Football Complex and will play its home games at the new Allegiant Stadium next fall, he also inherits a program that has been a perennial loser and has been to one bowl game in 18 years.

And while he may have nice facilities to recruit to, he will need a staff that can not only lure players to Las Vegas and UNLV, but can coach them and also game-plan successfully for the Rebels’ opponents.   

To do that costs money. Reed-Francois said UNLV was in the upper echelon of Mountain West teams when it came to funding a coaching staff and she said the funding will be in place to give Arroyo what he needs to put a quality staff together.

“We had already invested heavily in a pool for hiring staff; I believe we were top-5,” she said. “We’re going to continue doing that. When we look at selling premium seating in the new Allegiant Stadium, that provides a new source of revenue and we’re going to use that new source of revenue to re-invest in our football program.”

Arroyo met with his players Thursday and planned to spend Friday meeting with members of Sanchez’s staff. He also has reached out to the players who have committed to UNLV with signing day set for next Wednesday.

He also said Las Vegas is more than ready to embrace a successful college football program.

“When you land here, when I started asking people about this place, when I know the leaders that are behind it,  when I see facilities like this, when I started putting my ear to the pavement, it was very easy to see this community is a huge aspect of why this place is going the direction it is. It’s a sports town. It wants to be great. It’s just really, really inviting. My family, this fits us perfectly.”

“This is an awesome opportunity. This is a place that wants to be great.”

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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