Could Franchione be headed to UNLV?

It's been nearly two years since Dennis Franchione left coaching. I have to believe that he's missed it from the day he's walked out the door at Texas A&M.

Franchione's name has emerged as a leading candidate for the vacant job at UNLV, according to the Rebel Nation blog published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

According to the blog, sources indicated that Franchione has already inquired to school officials about the vacancy, created when Mike Sanford was fired earlier this week.

Franchione is well-known in the Mountain West Conference, where he helped rebuild programs at New Mexico and TCU earlier in his career.

And here's the nugget that might be most attractive to the cash-strapped UNLV athletic department. Franchione is receiving a $4.4 million buyout from Texas A&M, including $1 million in 2010, minus what he earns at another job.

The Rebels would be able to pay Franchione a below-market-value salary with A&M accounting for the difference. And it's not unusual for the school, which used a similar plan to help pay for basketball coach Lon Kruger's first season after he was still being paid by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.

It makes perfect sense. Franchione comes back into coaching at a place that he's relatively familiar with. The school would be able to keep him at their current salary structure, knowing that A&M would pay the difference in the first season.

Franchione's name would have some cachet with the high-rollers in Vegas, too. It would help build the program in what admittedly is a difficult market for college sports.

Sounds like a win-win for everybody involved.

It would be interesting to see if Franchione or his coaching methods have changed since his celebrated final season at Texas A&M.

But I've got to believe he's been itching for this chance since the day he left College Station.