Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012 | 2 a.m.
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Following a disheartening 48-10 season-ending loss at lowly Hawaii, Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer, Case Keefer and Taylor Bern discuss the ramifications of a third straight two-win season for Rebels coach Bobby Hauck. (Spoiler: Get ready for Year Four)
- Rebels sink to a new low with season-ending loss at Hawaii
- Take 5: Remembering the 2000 UNLV-Hawaii game as Rebels try to avoid another two-win season
- County commission OKs land deal for proposed UNLV stadium
- Last game at Hawaii perfect chance for Rebels to break road losing streak
- Rebels come up short in final home game of season
- UNLV football adds two games with BYU starting in 2014
- All UNLV Football Coverage
Three days after his third season at UNLV ended with the team’s 22nd consecutive road loss in humiliating fashion at Hawaii, Rebels coach Bobby Hauck laid out the future as he sees it.
In three years he has won a combined six games. To stick around for a fifth he may need to match that total in 2013.
“We probably need to be bowl eligible next year,” Hauck said. “I think that’s fair.”
Hauck said that wasn’t a direct order from his primary boss, UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood, “but we’re going to have those talks. I would think Jim’s thinking pretty much along those lines.”
Hauck came to UNLV in 2010 from Montana, where he reached three national championship games with the Division I-AA powerhouse. Before that he was a successful assistant at several D-I schools, including UCLA and Washington. He has been a part of teams that started at or near the bottom and eventually worked their way up a time or two. Hauck said he knows what it takes.
“If I didn’t think we could get there and have a great year next year, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” Hauck said from his office in the Lied Athletic Complex on campus. “Because it’s hard, you invest a lot.”
For sticking around through his original three-year contract, Hauck this offseason will get a lump sum payment of $450,000. Hauck’s base salary is $350,000, so this payment was a workaround way of essentially paying him $500,000 a year. A two-year extension signed in 2011 has Hauck under contract at UNLV through the 2014 season. If the Rebels fall short next year and a change is made then the university would owe him the last year of that deal.
With Hauck at the helm in 2013, the question turns to which assistants will be joining him. The coaching staff has been under a great deal of fire this year for the on-field production and play calling.
Hauck said he would make those decisions in the coming weeks. The staff is virtually the same one he came to Las Vegas with three years ago, and several of them were with him at Montana, too. Hauck said Livengood and UNLV President Neal Smatresk are very open minded in personnel discussions, though as the bosses “they’re going to get what they want.”
“I’m grateful to Neal and Jim for believing we’re on the right path,” Hauck said.
Some would say Hauck’s already had enough time to turn the Rebels around. There are programs around the country that in the last few days have proved far less forgiving than Las Vegas.
Colorado fired Jon Embree after just two seasons. Auburn will pay Gene Chizik $7.5 million just to walk away two years after winning the national championship. North Carolina State finished 7-5, meaning it will go to a bowl game for the fourth time since Tom O’Brien took over in 2007. He won’t be joining them because he, too, is now looking for a job.
No two situations are the same, and certainly UNLV couldn’t put itself in a position to pay a buyout like Auburn or NC State ($1.2 million over four years). Besides the financial situation, there’s evidence that UNLV is in what Hauck called phase two of a long-term plan. First you lose big, then lose close and eventually you win close.
Until the road debacles at Colorado State and Hawaii, the Rebels had done a good job this season of hanging close with teams of comparable skill and ability. Four of the team’s 11 losses this year were by a combined 16 points, which makes six victories seem tantalizingly close yet still so far away.
To try to reach that plateau next year, Hauck said he might look at signing a few more junior college guys than normal, though that all depends on who says yes. For the most part he’s still going to try to build a balanced recruiting class (read: not over recruiting one position) consisting of guys he hopes don’t have to see much playing time as true freshmen. Even with the pressure mounting ahead of what’s essentially a do or die season, Hauck is treating his decisions like he’s building something for three years down the road more than next year.
“Everything we’ve done has been a long-term goal-type decision,” Hauck said. “It’s not a microwave process when you’re developing these guys. It’s a four-to-six year deal.”
Next season is Year Four of the Hauck era. He has support within the athletics department, though his defenders are few and far between in the public. Three straight two-win seasons have a way of doing that.
There will almost assuredly be changes in the coaching staff by the time next year rolls around. Everything else will probably look the same.
Quarterback Nick Sherry and running backs Tim Cornett and Bradley Randle all return to anchor an offense that had some bright spots this season. Leading tackler John Lotulelei leaves a void at middle linebacker, but for the most part the main pieces on defense also return.
“I’m really disappointed in our win total,” Hauck said. “I’m not disappointed in the progress we made.”
In other words, UNLV is not undergoing an overhaul. Enough of the right people, including Hauck himself, believe in what the Rebels are doing.
Now they get a year to prove it.
• Defensive end James Boyd, who came to UNLV last year as a quarterback, is no longer with the team because of academics.
• Hauck said based on the feedback he’s heard from scouts, he would be “shocked” if Lotulelei isn’t taken in the NFL draft. Lotulelei led the team with 9.23 tackles per game, the 40th best mark in the country.