By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor
UNLV coach Tony Sanchez became a rising star in coaching circles after spending six seasons leading Bishop Gorman (Nev.) to an overall record of 85-5 and six consecutive state 4A championships. His 2014 top-ranked Gaels squad finished 15-0 and won the national championship.
Since Sanchez was hired at UNLV in 2014, the team GPA has improved from 2.2 to 2.8. The secret: Sanchez has made academics a priority.
He switched the practice schedule so that the team started the day with a football meeting at 6:50 a.m. The Rebels hit the practice field at 8:10 a.m. for a two-hour training session. The players take classes starting at 11 a.m., after receiving a dose of motivation from the coaching staff.
“The coaches are the last people they see in the morning before they go to class,” Sanchez said. “They know they’re letting us down if they go home and take a nap.”
Sanchez has found that the early-morning football schedule ensures that players are well-fed, alert and motivated by the time their academic obligations begin. It also gives players time at night to focus on their school work.
“Whatever you emphasize becomes a priority,” Sanchez said. “We have class checks and an extra academic advisor. Our offensive line coach is in charge of academics. Coaches harp on it constantly.”
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