Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009 | 3:56 p.m.
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Two weeks ago, UNLV defensive lineman Malo Taumua spent an evening watching a NCAA Championship Subdivision national semifinal game between Appalachian State and Montana.
Little did Taumua know that the game would serve as his first introduction to his eventual coach, Montana’s Bobby Hauck. Consider it a good first impression as Montana won the game 24-17.
"They were talking about how he was such a disciplined coach," Taumua said. "That’s what we need."
At the time of Hauck‘s introductory press conference Wednesday at UNLV, none of the players had spoken with him yet. But those in attendance did have strong opinions on the hire.
They unanimously approved of it. Senior linebacker Ronnie Paulo said Hauck’s football mentality would mesh well at UNLV.
"I’m definitely impressed in the guy’s philosophy and aggressive nature of the game," Paulo said. "That’s my style of play."
Paulo also mentioned Hauck’s winning reputation as a positive. Hauck won 80 games in the last seven years at Montana and advanced to three national championship games.
"I know what he did at Montana," junior wide receiver Phillip Payne said. "I hope he does the same thing here."
Payne said he thought he was behind the rest of his teammates in gathering information on Hauck. He hadn’t done any research prior to the press conference.
That was scheduled for later in the day.
"I’m probably going to go home and Google him right now," Payne said.
First, Payne planned to meet Hauck for the first time. Taumua, Paulo, Payne and the other couple players who attended the press conference visited with Haucks’ wife, Stacy, and waited for their new coach to address them for the first time.
The players said it had been tough working out without a coach for the last three weeks. They were relieved to get the situation sorted out before Christmas.
"I’m just glad to have a head coach," junior defensive back Chris Jones said. "Now, we can actually get to work on next season and everything."
Taumua said he was appreciative of the efforts of former coach Mike Sanford and his staff, but it was time to move on.
That echoed the sentiments from the rest of his teammates.
"The good thing about football players is their ability to move on to things and not dwell on the past," Paulo said. "A coach like this means a good change. I feel there’s no mixed emotions, it’s just a sense of urgency to move on."
Reached by phone from his home in California, redshirt freshman running back Bradley Randle said he was enthusiastic about working with Hauck.
Randle, the prized recruit from Sanford’s final class, never considered transferring despite the coaching change. Randle also said his buddy Caleb Herring, the perceived quarterback of the future for the Rebels, was not leaving.
"We’re all going to be here," Randle said. "I talked to Caleb and had a whole group huddle with the freshman class. I told them all, ‘Hey, it’s been a tough year but we know what we can do.’ We’re all going to stick it out no matter what."
Hauck will face a number of challenges in his first year with the Rebels. It’s been a decade since UNLV last made a bowl game or had a winning season.
Changing that pattern will be one of Hauck’s first tasks. Paulo, who is from Las Vegas and went to Western, also shared a challenge he thought Hauck would face.
"He needs to keep Vegas players here," Paulo said. "That might be the biggest problem. But we’re a big family and we’re going to embrace him."