John Robinson never promised any miracles when he took over a UNLV football team that had lost 16 straight. He got one anyway, when a rookie head coach made the mistake of trying to pile it on.
The whackiest ending of any football game in Robinson's long coaching career turned certain defeat into victory against Baylor when a bizarre decision by Bears coach Kevin Steele backfired miserably.
"I've seen some strange finishes before, but this one was sure different," Robinson said. "I've only been in Las Vegas for six months but I know this is a city of luck. We certainly had the luck this time."
All the luck on the Las Vegas Strip wouldn't have mattered, if Steele had done the prudent thing Saturday night in Waco, Texas, and had his quarterback take a knee to run out the clock with a 24-21 lead in the final seconds.
But a three-point win at home over once hapless UNLV (now 2-0) just wasn't enough.
Steele ordered a running play, only to watch in disbelief as Kevin Thomas picked up a goal-line fumble and ran 101 yards the other way. Baylor players pounded the turf in frustration.
On Monday, Steele tried to explain his thinking, while his team tried to recover from a second straight last second loss.
"The kids wanted to score. We had been moving the football," Steele said. "We are trying to create a mental toughness that gives our players the edge to finish the job. That having been said, it was a mistake and I regret it. I regret it for the team, which deserved to win the game, and I regret it for the fans."