UNLV’s hire of Marcus Arroyo has caused a lot of buzz around the football program. They are going to be playing in the new Raiders stadium in addition to acquiring a big coach from the Pac-12. It has created the attention around the team since Caleb Herring somehow brought UNLV to a bowl game in 2013 and Randall Cunningham bringing UNLV to a bowl game victory back in 1984 before that. Las Vegas natives don’t really know much about Arroyo other than he was the offensive coordinator for a big school and orchestrated an offense ran by Justin Herbert who is an expected first round pick. On December 11th, 2019 Oregon Ducks Bear Writer James Crepea came onto the show to discuss UNLV’s newest head coach.
Shapiro starts the conversation:
“What can you tell us about this guy Marcus Arroyo that the people of Las Vegas need to know?”
James Crepea responds:
“Well, he is a really strong recruiter. That’s been evident by the players he’s been able to bring in over his three years at Oregon. A really really strong recruiter. I mean he was instrumental so far in their recruiting of some of Oregon’s biggest offensive commits on both last year and this year. Their quarterback commit right now for the 2020 is really strongly tied to Marcus Arroyo. I’m not suggesting that he is going to flip UNLV or something. There is a little demarcation I would say between the Pac-12 and the Mountain West.”
Recruiting is the basis of any good football program. Oregon ranked 19th in recruiting 2017, 13th in 2018, and 7th in 2019. That is concrete data to support the idea that Arroyo was a big part of their recruiting class considering he joined the team in 2017 and they improved recruiting each year he was there. That is not to say that UNLV is suddenly going to be a top 30 team in recruiting, but I can almost guarantee it will be better than anything Tony Sanchez was able to accomplish. His most important task will be finding a new quarterback. The truth of the matter is that Kenyon Oblad is not going to lead UNLV to a bowl game at any point in his 3 remaining years of eligibility. The best quarterback in the country won’t be able to lead UNVL to a bowl game next season but a promising recruit may be able to do something his Junior or Senior year depending on how fast Marcus can build a culture. The greatest advantage of moving from the Pac-12 to the Mountain West is that fact that the competition will not be as good. If he can implement superior schemes with capable personnel, he has a chance to make UNLV a relevant team in the Mountain West.
He continued later:
“Ultimately, this is a guy who led an offense that improved year after year and has a quarterback that is set to go in the first round of the NFL draft. From UNLV’s perspective, a program towards the bottom of the Mountain West, I don’t know how you are going to do much better than that.”
Marcus Arroyo took this job because he knew he was playing at the Raiders stadium in my opinion. It is going to garnish a lot of attention from the country because of the excitement surrounding the building. That means there is going to be more people in those seats than we have ever seen since Randel Cunningham. This is not a palpable job. UNLV is a school that has only ever been to 4 bowl games in school history. Arroyo knows that if he can create a bowl team out of this program, it will give him the chance to be a head coach as a bigger name school. I would imagine he is targeting the SEC or maybe even the NFL considering he was the quarterbacking coach for one year with the Buccaneers in 2014. Interestingly enough he had this to say when he was fired after one season in Tampa Bay, “Despite these difficult circumstances, I enjoyed my time here very much. I am certainly looking forward to continuing my coaching career in the NFL, and this experience will prove invaluable.” This would prove to me this he believes this head coaching job is going to give him his best opportunity to do so. He is taking a massive risk by taking this job. On some level you have to take risks if you want to make it as a coach at the highest level.
Shapiro asks an important question:
“16 years as an assistant coach. Has he (Arroyo) ever been offered a head coaching job before that you know of?”
James Crepea says:
“I would not be able to speak on every opportunity that has come across, but I would be a bit surprised if he had. I don’t believe so. Again, he served as an offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. He had the one-year stint with the Buccaneers but no I believe this is his first head coaching opportunity.
How good was Marcus Arroyo as the quarterback coach for the Buccaneers and why was he fired? The 2014 Buccaneers were looking to turn things around under new head coach Lovie Smith who was taking on a team that posted a 4-12 record the year prior. They ended up with an even worse record of 2-14. Marcus Arroyo was essentially their pseudo offensive coordinator that year after offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford had heart surgery. The Buccaneers were the 29th ranked offense that year under quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Josh McCown. Glennon’s 4-9 in 2013 record dropped to 1-4 despite adding an offensive weapon in Mike Evans via the draft. The only argument you could make is that Arroyo could be attributed to helping him improve his yards per game, yards per attempt, and touchdown percentage. The reality is that Arroyo never had a chance. His hopes of landing another NFL job fell short and he was relegated to a major NCAA conference hoping to make his way back up. Even though he was a great offensive coordinator, he was not first in line for any major school’s head coaching vacancy. This is his first chance at displaying himself as more than a college coordinator.
“How do you think he is going to run the offense here at UNLV? What type of offense does UNLV football look like next year?”
James Crepea responds:
“Well systematically what he ran at Oregon was a Pistol offense. It’s as far as the Pistol formation. It is kind of a misnomer that it’s a full offense. It’s not a scheme, it’s a formation. So formationally, you’re going to see a lot of the Pistol. Pistol/ shotgun you’re going to see a combination of the two. I don’t know if you want to call that spread or not spread. A lot of three wide sets basically out of the Pistol or Shotgun formation. Don’t go by only what the Oregon fan is reacting to. Oregon fans have basically anointed expectations on Just Herbert for his return this year and some of them are completely outlandish.
The best part for Arroyo is that there is no culture surrounding UNLV football. It is not something that is discussed amongst the people of Las Vegas like the Knights, Raiders, or even the Aviators are. Sam Boyd’s remote location ensured that no one outside of the most dedicated fans were ever going to watch the games. All of the new fans who will be going into the Raiders stadium to watch UNLV will be doing so with no expectations. Oregon was ranked offensively 18th in 2017, 25th in 2018, and 16th in 2019. While it would be great to have an offensive coordinator from a top 10 school, that was never going to be an option or a UNLV team that was ranked 98th in offense this year. If Arroyo could build this team up to the top 50 offensively, I would imagine it would give this team success to the level that Caleb Herring was able to in 2013. I do not see that happening until 3 years from now, but I do not think it is impossible. I expect this team to be worse or as bad as it was last year while Arroyo sorts through the mess that is UNLV sports.