Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009 | 3:27 p.m.
- New UNLV football coach, athletic director would receive bonuses for BCS appearance (12-23-2009)
- Brother of new UNLV coach says Rebels have a winner (12-23-2009)
- Players react positively to Hauck’s hiring (12-23-2009)
- UNLV introduces Jim Livengood as athletic director (12-17-2009)
- UNLV football recruits play waiting game for new coach (12-17-2009)
- Franchione emerges as potential early candidate for UNLV football post (11-19-2008)
Hired on Tuesday as the 10th coach in program history, the 45-year-old Hauck (pronounced HOCK) was full of optimism during an introductory news conference Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center. His high expectations were shared by the group of assembled supporters and players.
"We are going to make good things happen here, I promise you," Hauck said. "We aren't going to be lacking in effort to get that done"
Hauck’s primary message was generating a positive buzz in the community, and judging by Wednesday’s gathering, there was definitely a newfound energy.
That was well-received by a group of roughly a dozen players in attendance.
"The No. 1 thing he said that gave me goose bumps was enthusiasm," said senior-to-be defensive lineman Malo Taumua, one of the team’s leaders. "That energy is going to help us get over the 5-7 (record) hump and to our goal of a bowl game."
Hauck spent the past seven seasons at Montana, posting an 80-17 record and leading the Grizzlies to three appearances in the Football Championship Series title game. Montana went 14-1 this fall and last Friday lost, 23-21, to Villanova in the championship game.
Playing meaningful games late in the season is something several feel Hauck could bring to UNLV. The Rebels haven’t had a winning season or played in a bowl game since 2000, when they finished 8-5 and beat Arkansas in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Hauck replaces Mike Sanford, who went 16-43 in five years at the helm and didn’t have a winning season. Sanford won two games in each of his initial three seasons, and UNLV finished 5-7 in 2009.
Hauck wouldn’t list any goals or predictions for the future, but stressed the team would be one the UNLV fan base would be proud of.
"I think people here are hungry for us to have a football team that plays well and wins some games," he said. "Enthusiasm will be generated if we get some wins and are worth watching."
Jim Livengood, who was hired as UNLV’s athletic director last Thursday, needed only five days to find a new football coach. He also interviewed veteran coach Dennis Franchione, whose last stop was Texas A&M, on Monday.
Franchione, whose track record of success is highlighted by turning around programs at Mountain West Conference schools TCU and New Mexico, would have been a safe hire.
But with Hauck, who went 51-6 in his final four years at Montana, Livengood feels the sky is the limit.
Livengood, who inherited the search process from interim Athletic Director Jerry Koloskie, said Hauck is the total package — he’s a relentless recruiter, passionate about his players and knowledgeable about the game.
"He was born to coach and born to compete," Livengood said. "That is something we need at this university in this particular role."
Hauck agreed to a three-year contract worth $350,000 annually plus incentives for particulars like wins and bowl-game appearances. The contract was to be approved later Wednesday at a special Board of Regents meeting.
Hauck said the length of the contract — three years as opposed to the more common five years for a new head coach — was a non-issue.
"If I didn’t believe in how the contract was structured, I wouldn’t have agreed to it," he said.
Former UNLV and NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham, arguably the most notable player in UNLV history, was in the crowd Wednesday. He endorsed Hauck as being the man to turn the program around.
"It’s a new beginning," said Cunningham, who passed for 59 touchdowns and more than 8,000 yards during his Rebel career. "How can you not be excited about him? He’s a winner and he’s going to do great things for the program and university."
One of Hauck’s first orders of business will be to hit the recruiting trail.
UNLV only has three high school seniors committed for the Feb. 3 signing day and didn’t have any players sign on the junior-college signing day last week. Most schools sign more than 20 each year.
Recruiting, however, is something Hauck prides himself on. Before his stint at Montana, he previously worked as an assistant and recruiting coordinator under Rick Neuheisel — now the head coach at UCLA — at Colorado and Washington.
There is a recruiting dead period until Jan. 4, and Hauck plans on being aggressive in securing prospects during January — arguably the most vital month in the process.
He already has a list of recruits he plans on pursuing and feels catching up won’t be impossible.
"We won’t come up for air until the first Wednesday in February on national signing day," Hauck said.
It’s those types of comments that stood out to the group of officials in attendance. The feeling is that Hauck could be one of the game’s up-and-coming young coaches.
"I like him because I can see for the first time the potential to have another Pete Carroll (USC’s successful coach)," said Jack Shofield, who has been part of the Board of Regents the past seven years. "I want UNLV to be mentioned with schools like USC and Notre Dame where kids line up to go here."
Hauck led Montana to the Big Sky Conference title each of his seven seasons with the program. He went 31-1 in league play the last four years.
Duplicating that success at UNLV, a school typically toward the bottom of the Mountain West Conference, won’t be easy. But Hauck isn't deterred.
"I really believe UNLV and its football program have a bright future," he said.
Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected].