Twenty years later, however, Tarkanian’s methods hardly seem out of place. Here are some of the things Tarkanian did at U.N.L.V. that were, at the time, considered unusual:¶ He embraced and encouraged the elevation of his players and program to cult status. Tickets to Runnin’ Rebels games were more difficult to come by than those to Wayne Newton’s show. Celebrities clamored to sit on Gucci Row, as the floor seats were called. A laser light show with throbbing music was a part of the pregame introductions. Games were as much productions as athletic competitions.¶ He changed his philosophy, shifting to an up-tempo, high-intensity strategy that regularly produced triple-digit point totals and — not coincidentally — heightened public interest. In the music video for the rapper Tupac Shakur’s 1991 song “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” Shakur wears U.N.L.V. clothing. Jay Bilas, an ESPN analyst, recalls that when he was growing up in Los Angeles, “the games were on, like, Channel 9, and everyone would watch them on tape delay — they were awesome.”¶ He gave opportunities to recruits with questionable backgrounds, earning him a reputation as a “second-chance” coach. Some, like Moses Scurry of Brooklyn, succeeded; others, like Lloyd Daniels, were disasters. Dick Vitale, the former college coach who now works as an analyst for ESPN, says he often referred to Tarkanian as the Father Flanagan of coaching. “Got a problem? Call up Jerry,” Vitale says.
While working on Danny's campaign I had the chance to not only meet Jerry but to speak with people who have known the Tarkanian family over the years. Jerry's influence spread far beyond the campus at UNLV.
During his tenure Las Vegas's summer league was one of the top 4 or 5 in the country as Coach's players participated with local players. There are a lot of successful people who came from poor backgrounds who never would have had a chance without Jerry. Even today, twenty years after he quit coaching at UNLV, people talk about that.