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New FSM Feature: UNLV fires head coach Marcus Arroyo

Franchise Sports Media

UNLV has fired head coach Marcus Arroyo after three full seasons at UNLV. With a record of 7-23 during his tenure, closing off a 5-7 season and accepting a bowl game that will be determined soon, UNLV has named Kendrick Thompson as interim head coach.


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UNLV athletics were shaken up today when news broke that head coach Marcus Arroyo was fired two days after defeating in-state rival UNR 27-22.

UNLV athletic director Eric Harper revealed his reasoning to the media in a press conference Monday morning, “This year, we had success at the beginning of the season. We stalled out for six weeks and had a very struggling game against UNR. That full body of work does not show the trajectory of the program moving forward.”

Harper announced that associate head coach and linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson would be the interim head coach. Harper also said that UNLV would accept a Bowl invite should one be extended to the 5-7 Rebels.

The six-game losing streak was well-documented. It was a frustrating time for players, coaches, and UNLV fans. Two of the issues on the losing streak featured slow starts in the first half, where the Rebels would find themselves down double-digits into halftime. Along with the wear and tear of the season, where UNLV would lose starting quarterback Doug Brumfield for three of those six losses, a player Arroyo had built an evident rapport with.

Injuries are a part of the game, Arroyo did put together the strongest recruitment class in UNLV history, and the players seemed very supportive of the message Arroyo gave them during all the trials and tribulations.

Still, Eric Harper was thankful for the progress this season and wanted to move on from Arroyo after the three-year stint.


Was the Arroyo firing warranted?


UNLV Football
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College football is beyond the white lines drawn upon the gridiron. Along with the new transfer portal that basically fits as a college football version of the NFL free agency, success needs to be gradual, and it is not easy to come by.

The Marcus Arroyo situation is hard to deconstruct, as so many variables begin to take place when breaking down his tenure at the program. One main factor in Arroyo’s lack of success is the 2020 pandemic. Arroyo did have to deal with the struggles of taking over an entire program in a Covid-19 season that saw the Rebels go 0-6. That was hard for any coach but was extremely difficult for a first-time head coach.

After a winless shortened season with so many mandates and rules that are now no longer in play, to then go 2-10 in 2021, well before solidifying any proper structure within the building, was going to be such a formidable obstacle to work around and holds a ton of weight when trying to climb the mountain of success.

Even on occasion at UNLV pressers, Arroyo would refer to the 2022 season as “chapter two” of his build, as following the best recruiting class in UNLV history, Arroyo was able to show the Mountain West, UNLV fans and others across the college football world what may be to come in the future of UNLV football.


Eric Harper did not want to even make it to “chapter three” of the Arroyo chronicles as ties were cut in an untimely fashion, leaving everyone to ask if the firing of coach Arroyo was warranted.


UNLV Football
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No, I don’t believe it was, and quite frankly, I am shocked,” said Franchise Sports Media UNLV football insider Joe Arrigo. “Progress was being made, and coach Arroyo still had the pulse of the team. It seemed they finally turned the corner, winning a close game (vs UNR) and being in the mix for a Bowl game…this came out of nowhere.”

Given the circumstances that were put in front of Arroyo, was this decision made too quickly? Two things are for sure: it was abrupt and shocking around the UNLV athletic program.

“The timing of this is not optimal. Why do it hours before the football team is scheduled to paint the Fremont Cannon red? Why do it after a win against your rival? I just don’t get it. Official visits were scheduled for the next few weeks with some pretty big recruits. What about them? This could set the program back AGAIN, just when it seemed like they were building something sustainable,Arrigo told me. “I thought coach Arroyo would get another season with a warm seat, and it would be Bowl or bust. To say this surprised me would be an understatement. They would have been returning a team that may have been competing for the Mountain West Conference title. Now, I don’t know. Players I talked to are highly upset, and with the transfer portal being as it is, it could be another long season.”

Harper will execute a buyout of Arroyo’s contract of $2.5 million that would be paid out of the terms of his contract. When asked about whether or not UNLV would have the money to pay a new head coach with Arroyo’s buyout being so high, Harper replied, “Arroyo had the third highest salary in the conference, so we know we will be paying at least a Top 3 salary for our next head coach.


UNLV has to get the hire right, or UNLV AD Erick Harper will be facing backlash. For a list of possible candidates for the UNLV head coach’s job, click here for Joe Arrigo’s article.

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Brandon Steele – Franchise Sports Media

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