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Bobby Hauck calm and ready as open of Rebels’ fall camp looms

First-year coach addresses several questions and concerns at Mountain West Conference media day

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Leila Navidi

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck shakes hands with linebacker Ronnie Paulo after speaking to the local media during Mountain West Conference media day at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 27, 2010.

MWC Media Day

First-year UNLV head football coach Bobby Hauck speaks to the media at Mountain West Conference media day at Red Rock Resort.

Mountain West Conference Media Day

UNLV coach Bobby Hauck speaks to the local media during Mountain West Conference media day at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 27, 2010. Launch slideshow »

As the only first-year coach in attendance at Tuesday's Mountain West Conference football media day at Red Rock Resort, Bobby Hauck appeared anything but nervous.

A week from Friday, when he opens his first fall camp as UNLV's head coach, don't expect that demeanor to change.

"I'm not the real nervous type," said Hauck, who inherited a program that hasn't enjoyed a winning season since 2000. "I try not to be. I'm looking forward to it. The challenge and the competitive part of this is why you do it.

"I'm a lot more relaxed than I was the first time I did this. The first time was hard. You're sitting in that chair for the first time; you're making the decisions for the first time. This time, it's a lot more relaxing. It's a lot easier to have confidence in your system and structure knowing that it works."

Hauck's coaching chops are far from being in question, following his successful tenure at FCS power Montana.

But if the league's preseason poll released to start the day is any indication, Hauck will have plenty of challenges ahead.

The combination of a schedule that features nine bowl teams from a year ago and the implementation of a new offense with personnel largely accustomed to running the spread contributed to the Rebels landing eighth in the nine-team poll.

Predictably, the top of the heap featured defending champ TCU, which took in all 31 media votes.

However, for a predicted eighth-place team, there was plenty for Hauck to talk about surrounding his program.

The most recent headline involving UNLV centered on former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who was dismissed after leading the Ducks to back-to-back 10-3 seasons and a Rose Bowl appearance due to legal troubles, including charges of burglary and marijuana possession.

The Rebels were reported last week to be one program potentially courting Masoli, who has one year of eligibility remaining and can play right away wherever he goes.

In his first public comment since the story surfaced, Hauck shot those rumors down.

"I can tell you right now that I haven't talked to anybody about transferring," he said.

Instead, Hauck is focusing on the quarterbacks he currently has to work with, including senior Omar Clayton, junior Mike Clausen and redshirt freshman Caleb Herring.

"So all of us can quit discussing every day who the quarterback is going to be, I'd like to name a starter," he said. "But I'm not a believer that you can force that decision. I think it has to kind of happen. Somebody needs to take the job, and I would assume that would happen in the first couple of weeks, I hope."

Hauck didn't show his hand that much on the topic except to say that it might be tough for Herring to overcome the experience deficit he has behind Clayton and Clausen, but he did agree that, somewhere in the mix, he has someone who can get the job done in what will be a hybrid offense of sorts.

The race promises to be intriguing. Clayton was the starter for most of the last two seasons — both 5-7 campaigns — but battled injuries consistently along the way. Clausen filled in admirably behind him and may be the stronger runner but hasn't been quite as efficient a passer as Clayton. As for Herring, he's undoubtedly the Rebels' quarterback of the future, but more than likely has another year of biding his time before taking the reins.

"We've got spread people, and by recruiting, it would be crazy for us to not have some spread concepts in our offense," Hauck added. "We're just going to try to do whatever we can to get a win. The aesthetics of it are not going to be important, nor should they ever be."

UNLV's questions entering the 2010 season, of course, aren't just limited to the game's headlining position.

When asked what his biggest focuses will be with a new group of players heading into camp, the first answer was obvious.

"I think the first part has to be to improve on defense," he said. "We can't be ranked 110th or whatever it is on defense and expect to be a good football team."

Numbers and rankings, however, are things that Hauck is hoping outsiders won't use to judge his program's performance in his first year at the helm.

Even if UNLV does simply live up to the eighth place prognostication, he's wanting those critics to dig a little deeper.

"I like the investment, so to speak, our guys have made," he said. "My biggest concern is that the schedule is so demanding, that the effort and commitment and improvement doesn't show up in the win column. That's my biggest concern, because I think we've improved in every area since Day One."

Players attest to the Hauck difference

UNLV's two player representatives at MWC media days, which wrap up on Wednesday, are senior center John Gianninoto and senior linebacker Ronnie Paulo.

Both agreed repeatedly that Hauck has already made an impression and changed the culture of the program.

"The first day that he came in and talked to us, he came in, put down the law, said a couple of choice words and we all knew that he meant business," Gianninoto said. "We all bought in, and it's going to turn out good for us, I believe."

The rest of the poll

Hauck joked in a radio interview on Tuesday that the Rebels garnered as many first-place votes in the preseason media poll as Utah and BYU.

Well, he wasn't lying.

Behind TCU as the unanimous preseason favorite, in order, are Utah, BYU, Air Force, Wyoming, San Diego State, Colorado State, UNLV and New Mexico.

Payne an All-MWC honoree

The voting media did at least bestow some honor on the Rebels, tapping junior receiver Phillip Payne as a member of the preseason All-MWC team.

Payne, a 6-foot-3 red zone specialist from Western High, caught 87 passes for 1,097 yards and 14 TDs in his first two seasons at UNLV, which included 21 games played.

Despite a more balanced offense under Hauck, the first-year coach will expect plenty out of Payne, including consistent support in run-blocking.

That technically applies to everyone in the skill positions, he said, as not blocking will result in not playing.

"It's kind of like the preseason predictions on the finish of the team: It's nice to be selected, but for Phil, personally, and our football team, he needs to live up to that preseason ranking," Hauck said. "Great for him, but now let's be that guy at the end of the year."

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  1. "I can tell you right now that I haven't talked to anybody about transferring," he said.

    You believe that BS? Notice that Hauck didn't rule out that anyone else on his staff hasn't been in contact with Masoli. He also doesn't disavow any interest in the ethically challenged "student/athlete".

  2. Armchair editor alert!

    "Hauck didn't tip his hat much on the topic except to say that it might be tough for Herring ...."

    Perhaps you meant 'tip his hand' as in 'give a clue' and not 'tip his hat' as in 'acknowledge'?

  3. Sept. 4 -- Wisconsin = (Loss)
    Sept. 11 -- at Utah = (Loss)
    Sept. 18 -- at Idaho = (Loss)
    Sept. 25 -- New Mexico = (Win)
    Oct. 2 -- Nevada-Reno = (Loss)
    Oct. 9 -- at West Virginia = (Loss)
    Oct. 16 -- at Colorado State = (Win)
    Oct. 23 -- BYE
    Oct. 30 -- TCU = (Loss)
    Nov. 6 -- at BYU = (Loss)
    Nov. 13 -- Wyoming = (Win)
    Nov. 18 -- Air Force = (Loss)
    Nov. 27 -- at San Diego State = (Win)
    Dec. 4 -- at Hawaii = (Win)

    5-8 record = Tough Schedule. Good Luck to the entire team and coaching staff. Go Rebels!

  4. It would have nothing to do with NCAA rules prohibiting him from comment on potential recruits or transfers until after they sign with a program. It is much easier to cast accusation and disparage Coach Houck than give him any credit or benefit of doubt.

    I might be drinking the Kool Aid, but I bought season tickets for the first time since Coach Robinson retired.

    GO REBELS!!

  5. rookiescribe ... Thanks. Gonna fix that. Appreciate the heads up.

    Louis ... He can say he's explored it, etc., if he chooses. Mississippi's Houston Nutt did so himself earlier this week regarding Masoli. But I still don't think he's coming, regardless of what Hauck says.

  6. info... I think thats a pretty realistic breakdown of what we can expect this season. I'd be prefectly happy with 5 wins given the state of our team and the schedule we have laid out in front of us.
    I'm sure the Hauck-haters will look at his statements about "improvement not showing up in the win column" as him "making excuses," but I like the fact that he is realistic about what he expects. He's a first-year coach implementing a new system: of course there will be bumps in the road. Until he has a few years to get HIS recruits in and implement HIS system, the jury will have to be out.

  7. "I think the first part has to be to improve on defense," he said. "We can't be ranked 110th or whatever it is on defense and expect to be a good football team."

    That's something Mike Sanford never would've said in a million years. THANK YOU, Coach Hauck.

  8. Best wishes for success, Coach Hauck- please try not to lose to the WAC this year.

    Oh, and any of you who honestly believe UNLV will beat Wyoming this year following back-to-back beatdowns by TCU and BYU- what's the bet?

    I see wins at Idaho, against UNM, and a good possibility for (finally) a win against UNR, but that's about it for the Rebs this year...

  9. I think if Rebel history proves anything, we have a fighting chance against Wisconsin. New coach, new mind-set. Not saying it's gonna happen, but we have a better chance of beating them for the season opener than TCU, BYU, UTAH. Add a win against Nevada Reno and that's seven wins. Wouldn't that be something?

    Louis G, I also picked up season tickets this season after a 4 year hiatus.

  10. This coaching staff has the ability to get wins and improve every year. Give these guys three years and we should see a dramatic difference.

    I'm a Vegas native and this is my first year buying season tickets. Go Rebs!

  11. unionstrong, I couldn't agree more. Go Rebs!

  12. "I'm a Vegas native and this is my first year buying season tickets."

    Pretty much says it all about the Rebel football "fanbase".

  13. 7-6 Boys, maybe 8-5 with just one upset.. The Rebels are going Bowling in Dec/Jan....

    Coach Hauck and Staff are going to will this team to at least one/two more victories this season. The talent was already there to win 5. Just needed that intangible of believing and giving the effort for 4 quarters. These players are being held accountable in practice and on every game down. That translates to not being blowed-out by 20 or more points, and being in position to win close games.... UNLV Go - Fight - Win!!

  14. I say 4 or 5 wins sounds about right. Like MikeLange said, this is a first year coach and it's going to take a season or two to get things rolling.

    I just hope for a bowl in the next three years. ;)

  15. MikeLange....I agree. The future is very bright for UNLV football. Results will happen this season and improve in the coming seasons. U.N.L.V.!

  16. I love the optimism, rrobthemoe!! I am hoping for 5 or 6 wins this year. We'll be 8-5 in 2 or 3 years (with wins over Boise State). To all of you who bought season tickets for the first time in many years, I hope you keep buying! Go Rebs!

  17. Geez, one year of Masoli in a program in which QB is a strength, and their schedule means they're probably not going bowling anyway, makes no sense at all.

    I agree, "logic should rule".

  18. It's true. Bringing in Masoli made no sense. That's why Hauck and/or his staff said no thanks.

    Masoli is enrolling at Mississippi.

  19. Idaho is almost a lock as a win--they are absolutely terrible... can't play outdoors worth a damn! Could be some suprises along the way--you never know--it's all if the players want it badly enough.

  20. If anyone remembers those early years with Coach Robinson, it was bare bones, hardnosed football while he restocked the shelves. I don't think we are going "bowling" this year, but I think the program is headed in the right direction and have decided to show my support for the program (heaven help the visiting coaches, I'm right behind them).
    I hope to see fundamentally sound football with the defense staying home and the offense returning a bit (Omar sure looked tentative last year to me). I was so tired of watching the kids over run a play, have the opponents RB/WR/QB, (heck maybe even mascot once) make 1 cut and see nothing but green between him and the end zone.

  21. I expect to see a disciplined football team under Hauck, not a bunch of missed assignments, missed tackles, & definately no quitting in the middle of games. I was never impressed with Sanfords offense either it was always one dimensional. Whenever Trotter was running hard & gaining positive yards they would shut him down the rest of the game, never understood the play calling. We should see much more ball control & a balanced attack this year. I actually think UNLV is going to win some games they shouldn't this year, my guess is Wisconsin, BYU, or maybe even West Virginia. Im expecting a competitive team that doesn't tank it in and plays with controlled aggression for 4 quarters. We'll begin to see the true identity of this team around the or 4th or 5th week.

  22. I'd love to be optimistic, but I'll hold my tongue for now cause I have heard these things before. Not into excuses either. This is going to be a rough season for sure. We'll see how the Rebs shape up after the Wisconsin game, and that should be a good look at how the season is going to end up.

  23. As an aside, Masoli went to Ole Miss to play.