Prior to UNLV's season-closing game against rival Nevada, head coach Bobby Hauck announced that he would be resigning after the season. It's unfortunate that Hauck couldn't accomplish more in his time at UNLV. He had a repuation as a winner at Montana, and his teams at UNLV definitely had the talent to be successful.
But the team was inconsistent, often playing well for half a game and then crashing and burning in the other half. Third quarters were real killers for UNLV this year, as the team regularly collapsed and allowed their opponents to break away after halftime. And that is exactly how UNLV lost (49-20) in Hauck's final game against rival Nevada. Hauck accumulated four seasons with only two wins, as well as one outlier year in which UNLV won seven games and earned a trip to the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's day last year (which my dad and I attended).
It's hard to tell where exactly the problem was. I had some issues with the decisions that were made by Hauck and his staff over the years. Specifically, I thought that Hauck set up former starting quarterback Nick Sherry for failure. Sherry performed well as a pocket-passer in his first few games running a west coast-style offense, and when the Rebels starting running a spread pistol formation focused around the read option, Sherry struggled. He was clearly uncomfortable as an option quarterback. He wasn't very mobile, he didn't make the right reads, and his accuracy and decision-making out of the pocket was terrible. So when Hauck continued to run that pistol spread offense, I was frustrated. Maybe Sherry handled it well enough in practice that Hauck honestly believed that he could handle it in games? But as game after game went by, and Sherry just kept looking worse and worse, it should have become obvious that he and that offense did not fit together.
UNLV collapsed in the third quarter to lose the Freemont Cannon to rival Nevada.
A sadly fitting - and representative - conclusion to Bobby Hauck's tenure at UNLV.
But UNLV's players didn't make Hauck's job easier. Both the offense and defense were horribly inconsistent year in and year out. It's hard to tell if that was the result of bad coaching or just bad players. But there was definitely some physical talent on the field. UNLV has had a quality receiving corp during most of Hauck's tenure, but aside from Caleb Herring, they just didn't have a quarterback that could reliably get them the ball. And even when the ball was on the mark, those receivers still dropped quite a few of them. The offensive line had trouble stopping blitzes, and the defense struggled to fill gaps and make tackles, leading to opponents regularly accumulating over 200 yards rushing against UNLV.
So it's difficult for me to be able to say with any degree of confidence whether Hauck was unfit for the job.
In any case, Hauck has decided that he and UNLV are not a good fit for each other, and he is moving on. UNLV will now have to search for a new head coach, and possibly a whole new coaching staff.
Bishop Gorman High School coach Tony Sanchez tops the list of UNLV coaching candidates.
Bishop Gorman high school head coach Tony Sanchez is on the short list of candidates to replace Hauck. Gormon has been a perennial powerhouse team in Nevada for as long as I can remember, and it's a top-ranked high school team in the entire nation! It's players are highly-regarded as NCAA recruit prospects.
It's difficult to guage how well a high school coach can perform at a collegiate level, since the sports are very different. High schools generally don't have the privilege of being able to recruit and must work with whatever kids are zoned for the school. Gorman, however, is an exception, since it is a private Christian school. Sanchez does have limited recruiting capability as the coach of that school (whether that's technically "legal" or not). But even so, running a college program is a much larger responsibility than a high school team.
UNLV can also pursue other candidates already within the NCAA.
UNLV has always struggled on defense, and so they will be looking to pursue a coach that can help elevate play on that side of the ball. To that end, Utah defensive co-ordinator Kalani Sitake is a prime candidate. Utah was one of the more successful teams in the Mountain West a few years ago due to a strong defense, and they earned an invitation to play in the PAC-12 during the manic conference realignments of a couple years ago. Sitake has familiarity with the Mountain West conference and its teams, which could give him an advantage for UNLV that Hauck could not provide. UNLV should definitely make an offer to him, and should maybe even consider him ahead of Gorman's coach.
Nebraska's head coach Bo Pelini was also recently fired, so he may be looking for a new job. He had modest success, but was not able to restore Nebraska to national prominence. Perhaps UNLV shouldn't pursue coaches who have been fired for failing to perform to expectations, but his experience at a bigger school could be an asset.
There's even talk of UNLV going after former Nevada head coach Chris Ault. Wouldn't that be fun? This one seems highly unlikely though, since Ault specifically took the job at Nevada to beat UNLV.
It's unfortunate that Hauck did not work out. It's frustrating to be a fan of a team that seems to be in a perpetual state of "rebuilding". I hope that the next coach has more success, since I really don't want UNLV to be in this same position again in five more years.