Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009 | 2 a.m.
- A lot is riding on you, coach (12-24-2009)
- New coach Hauck makes good first impression (12-23-2009)
- 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)
UNLV’s new football coach is confident, smart, articulate, dedicated and possesses a charm that makes him a top-notch recruiter.
That’s not the full measure of the man. Bobby Hauck can also be childish and stubborn, among other things. But in the business of winning football games, you take the bad with the good, and there’s a lot more good than bad with Hauck.
His team’s performance on the field or in the classroom has been more than fine. His student-athletes graduate and they play pretty good football — 80 wins in 97 games. A lot of those were close games, too.
Hauck’s problems have mainly revolved around his efforts to control what the media tell the public about him and his players.
During the 2004 season Hauck “fired” the team chaplain, Father Hogan, who had been with the University of Montana since the 1990s. There was a conflict about when Hogan should celebrate Mass for the players.
Hauck was upset because the daily newspaper I work for, The Missoulian, wrote about the dismissal of Hogan — a popular man in Missoula. Hauck made it pointedly clear that in his opinion the story wasn’t worth the ink. He thinks he should get to decide what’s news and what isn’t.
That made his 2007 season a rough one because that June one of his players was arrested and charged with murder in California, and that November four football players were arrested in connection with a home invasion.
Hauck handled those his way — with little or no comment. He handles discipline in-house, and doesn’t think it’s any of the public’s business.
That became a problem again for him a few months ago, when his treatment of the student journalists at the university newspaper got national attention from SI.com’s Jeff Pearlman. Pearlman derided Hauck as a bully and cited him as a classic example of “egomaniacal collegiate football coaches who ... believe themselves to be otherworldly morphings of John Rambo, George Patton, Albert Einstein and Vince Lombardi.”
In September the university’s student paper, the Kaimin, had published a story about an alleged assault on a student by two of Hauck’s players. When a reporter asked Hauck about the incident, Hauck cursed at the student and tried to cover up the reporter’s tape recorder. From then on Hauck refused to talk to the student paper — except to belittle its reporters at news conferences.
He said the players, on their own, decided they also would stop speaking to the Kaimin, and he certainly wasn’t going to force them to give interviews.
Hauck had no problem forcing them to do other things, though.
Griz fans can point toward the worst of Hauck’s players’ bad behavior and say Hauck was not a disciplinarian, but in fact he is. His players will go to class. They will have a regimented lifestyle — they will go to winter conditioning, they will not skip treatment for injuries — and will behave and will graduate. Or they can go someplace else.
I’ve seen enough log rolls and runs to the “M” above the campus to know this.
And when it comes to the Xs and Os of football, Hauck has been, when it’s all said and done, adaptable.
He rather famously said he would bring “an aerial circus” to the Griz in 2003, after the team had won the Division I Football Championship in ’01 with a balanced attack.
When Montana threw North Dakota State back into the game in Hauck’s second Saturday as a college coach — the Griz led 21-2 at halftime and lost 25-24 — he changed his approach.
Justin Green was the first of his bulldozing runners at UM, followed by Lex Hilliard and Chase Reynolds. Both Green and Hilliard moved on to the NFL, and Reynolds, a junior with 3,085 rushing yards to his credit, has a shot.
During that 2003 season, injuries shelved both starting quarterback Craig Ochs and his backup, Jeff Disney. Hauck closed practice for the week and came out with an option look against Idaho. The Griz won — and kept winning, with a balanced attack.
A year later, the Griz made the Football Championship Subdivision (then called Division I-AA) title game.
Not too shabby for a guy who didn’t even play football in college. He competed instead in track, at the University of Montana. His younger brother, Tim, was a walk-on for the Montana football team after a year at an NAIA school and became an All-American safety for the Griz.
When Tim Hauck was a senior in 1989, Bobby Hauck was a graduate assistant with the Griz. Bobby had caught the coaching bug by then, and since then has been on staffs across the western United States — Northern Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Washington.
Along the way he built a reputation as a recruiter and special teams coach. It was a surprise when he landed the job as a 38-year-old at Montana, but he made up for any perceived gaps on his resume by, and I quote, “acing the interview.”
That’s from former Montana athletic director Wayne Hogan, who hired Hauck. What Hogan got was a raw head coach who worked extremely hard and with complete confidence in his ability to get things done, and done right.
Hauck isn’t so raw now, but everything else has stayed the same. That bodes well for UNLV football.
Fritz Neighbor has covered Montana Grizzly football at the Missoulian for six seasons.