by Jake Runyon (@jakerunyon)
Some serious drama unfolded over the weekend.
Deep within the bowels of the Thomas and Mack, Dave Rice took the UNLV 2014 recruiting class hostage.
On her desk, Tina Kunzer-Murphy had a list of demands, and if she didn’t come through, he would be leaving, and murdering the future of UNLV basketball.
Okay, so maybe that isn’t exactly what happened, but that is how it felt.
Friday afternoon was an intense day of emotion. When it first got reported that Dave Rice was given an offer from South Florida, I didn’t think that much of it. I was thinking he would graciously decline, and CDR haters would will complain that he didn’t leave.
Then things got real as it was reported that Dave Rice was highly considering the job. Following the events on twitter was torture. It was like being in quicksand. Each new tweet brought more bad news. It felt like seeing the next 2-4 years of UNLV basketball evaporate slowly.
As the reports were coming in that Rice was considering taking the USF job, the UNLV recruiting class appeared to be at a breaking point. A few media outlets were reporting that the UNLV commits would likely seek a release from their commitment and reopen their recruiting. Unofficial Louisville and Indiana twitter accounts began to stir the pot as well that Vaughn and Morgan were up for grabs. Even Dwayne Morgan’s own twitter count hinted that he was “back to the drawing board.”
By 4:00 in the afternoon, it felt like Dave Rice to USF was all but done. Fortunately for UNLV, that wasn’t the case, and Dave Rice and UNLV were able to come up with a contract resolution to keep Rice here through 2019.
Now, it can be argued that this was Dave Rice’s plan all along. I don’t buy that. I think that if UNLV was not going to give him and extension and improved contract he would have left. South Florida was desperate to hire somebody, especially since the Masiello hiring fell through. Regardless, in a stare down between Dave Rice and the UNLV Athletic Department, Tina Kunzer-Murphy flinched first.
Two days since this whole ordeal went down, and its starting to feel like things are back to normal. If there is anything to gain out of this as Rebel fan, its that, for better for worse, Dave Rice is our coach. I am of the belief that it is for our betterment. Ironically, the same people that have been calling for Dave Rice’s head were the ones rejoicing the most when it was announced he was staying.
The “offseason” for UNLV has been anything but quiet the last few years, and this one is no different. While we know that Christian Wood and Dave Rice will be back. A large question mark looms over the future of current Rebels, Khem Birch, Roscoe Smith, Kendall Smith, etc.
But for UNLV, the future does look promising. While success is not guaranteed, we’re more likely to find it with Dave Rice at the helm then having to essentially restart our basketball program from scratch with a new coach, new staff, and new players.