In 2010, Bobby Hauck was hired away from Montana to turn around a UNLV football program that had produced just two winning seasons since 1992. Three years later, the Rebels still haven’t shown any improvement in the win-loss column: Under Hauck, who went 80-17 in seven years at Montana, UNLV is 6-32, winning two games each season. Now the coach finds himself on the hot seat at the same time the university is in the process of hiring a new athletic director. With perhaps one last chance to prove himself in Las Vegas, here are seven reasons why Hauck might remain on the Rebels’ sideline after this season:
Nineteen returning starters
The Rebels have nine starters coming back both on offense and defense, plus first-team, All-Mountain West Conference kicker Nolan Kohorst. A quartet of three-year lettermen (defensive tackle Alex Klorman, linebackers Tim Hasson and Tani Maka, and cornerback Sidney Hodge) gives the Rebels much-needed experienced leadership on a defense that allowed 32.6 points per game last year.
A motivated Tim Cornett
The senior running back rushed for 1,232 yards and seven TDs last year despite playing with a torn labrum. After being UNLV’s leading
rusher for three straight years on losing teams, Cornett is 701 rushing yards shy of breaking Mike Thomas’ school record of 3,149. This summer, Cornett expressed his desire to be the go-to guy in leading the Rebels to respectability—and he’ll need to be to take pressure off of …
A healthy, maturing Nick Sherry
The quarterback passed for 2,544 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman last year, but suffered from turnovers (17 interceptions, including nine in his last five starts) and late-season injuries. Sherry struggled with his accuracy in preseason camp, something he’ll need to fix if the Rebels are to improve on last year’s average of 22 points per game.
A favorable schedule
The Rebels have three very winnable games (Central Michigan, Western Illinois, Hawaii) at Sam Boyd Stadium in the first half of the season. And with a game at New Mexico also in the mix (see below), UNLV has a realistic chance to be 4-2 at the season’s midpoint, with three home games remaining.
End of the road woes
The Rebels are 0-20 on the road under Hauck and have lost 22 straight away from home overall. Their most recent road victory came on October 24, 2009, a 34-17 rout of New Mexico. UNLV returns to Albuquerque to play the Lobos on September 28, and it’s the best chance to finally end the slide. There’s also a little clash in Reno on October 26.
They’re getting closer
Four of UNLV’s 11 losses last year were by five points or fewer, including three losses in games they led in the fourth quarter. That’s a vast improvement over Hauck’s first two seasons, when the Rebels were blown out routinely. With a more experienced roster, UNLV figures to be ready to turn some of those close losses into victories.
Knowing this might be his last chance at UNLV, Hauck hired his brother, Tim, as defensive coordinator, and brought in former NFL quarterback Timm Rosenbach to run the offense. Rosenbach was Montana’s offensive coordinator last year, helping the Grizzlies average 452 yards per game, and he should be a good mentor for Sherry. Tim Hauck, who played safety in the NFL for 13 years, has NFL coaching experience and arrives with quite a bit of motivation: He wants to do everything in his power to ensure his older brother succeeds.