UNLV Athletics:

Bobby Hauck full of confidence, wants things done his way

Here is a view of the Rebels’ new football coach from a Montana Grizzlies beat writer

UNLV New Football Coach-Bobby Hauck

UNLV officially ended its search for a new football coach today by announcing former University of Montana head coach Bobby Hauck as their new man.

Bobby Hauk introduced at UNLV

New UNLV head football coach Bobby Hauck smiles during a news conference at UNLV Wednesday, December 23, 2009. Hauck had a 80-17 record at Montana where he was the head coach from 2003. Launch slideshow »

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.

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  1. I cant wait to see what he can do with unlv!

  2. I'm excited about UNLV football again, finally. Welcome Coach Hauck!

  3. "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."

    I agree. Some reporters misquote or misinterpret on comments and situations. So why give them the chance.

    Don't care about any of the negative comments from this writer, for now. All of the situations that he describes sound very circumstancial. Every place is different and it is very possible that Bobby has zero problems here throughout his tenure.

  4. Fritz, it sounds like to me that you are the one with the issues, still talking about a few incidents that occurred years ago...

    You look it as Hauck trying to determine what is "news", he looks at it like you trying to stir stuff up. Who can blame him for trying to keep controversy out of his program?

    Sounds like to me you want to have the last say with Hauck and have tried to temper you article with some positive things about him as well to "on balance, be fair".

    Was all that Father Hogan stuff necessary? I don't think anybody in Vegas really cares. As far as players go, tell me about another program that doesn't have problems with players on occasion.

    Thanks for the positive information and the background, but keep your personal battles with Hauck in Missoula.

  5. Wow! As someone who used to write for an award winning college newspaper, and has a degree in Communications, I can say that this article is horrible. If this is the way they write in Montana, I wouldn't talk to any of you either. Something you intentionally omitted from your article was that the player arrested for murder was found not guilty due to self-denfense. Please Las Vegas Sun, do not allow biased-drivel from Montana to grace your pages again.

  6. Here's are some supplements to parts of the article:

    1. Hauck may be stubborn, but I don't agree that he is childish.

    2. Hauck is protective of his players publicly, and doesn't like it when the media over-emphasizes some incident or puts it on the front page when it is more deserving of the last page. Hauck is a fairly tough disciplinarian and handles most of the discipline internally and quietly, i.e. he kicks the players butts privately but doesn't talk to the press. He also doesn't talk about injuries.

    3. Hauck's players had relatively few off-field issues in his 7 years, except for a bad period of 5.5 months in 2007. The reference to the arrest for murder occurred in CA. Later, the player was acquitted of murder on a 12-0 vote due to self-defense. Earlier the player's trial had resulted in a hung jury, with the vote being 11-1 to acquit. The incident occurred after a gang member beat the player's aunt unconscious with a hammer and then urinated on her. The reference to four former players being arrested for house invasion is not quite right. Three players and one former player were arrested. They had gone, with three others I believe, to the home of a minor drug dealer, and the drug dealer got roughed up a bit.

    4. No player ever arrested or charged with anything other a DUI ever played another down for Hauck's team, to my knowledge. While he will sometimes wait to gather more facts and has given some a second chance, he doesn't tolerate that kind of behavior.

    5. The Kaimin incident started with a Kaimin reporter asking about an alleged incident that had occurred 6 months earlier. It was a fight at a fraternity. The "victim", the victim's dad (who reported the incident to Hauck), the players and Hauck had resolved the issue on their own. No charges or police reports were ever filed. Hauck had disciplined the players during the spring, summer and fall. It had been their absense from uniform in the first game of the season that caused the Kaimin to start asking questions. After the Kaimin reporter asked the same question for the 4th time, Hauck said, according to the Kaimin, "You've asked the same question four F-ing times, and I'm not going to answer it." The Kaimin responded by doing three articles/editorials on the matter in their next issue, and eventually two or three more. Hauck then wouldn't respond to the Kaimin's questions for about a month. The so-called "belitting" and was Hauck's saying to the reporters, when he wouldn't answer their questions, "You certainly are persistent." Most people supported Hauck in his dealings with the Kaimin and this matter. I'm sure the players did too.Except for ongoing minor press generated by the Kaimin and their visiting professor advisor who had contacts with the national media, this matter was a big non-issue.

    6. While this reporter is fine, he had his issues with Hauck over the years (and one can see some of the sour grapes and pettiness in this article).

  7. Disciplinary issues should be handled in house. This is still America where people I think are still "innocent" until proven guilty. Remember it was an "alleged" assault and no charges were filed. Why shouold there be a story then? There are always 2 sides to every story, perhaps there was some provocation involved? It happens all the time with student athletes. Some idiot gets all liquored up at a frat party and suddenly thinks he can whoop a football players a**, then he gets his a** kicked and wants to make a story out of it.

    I like a coach that wont throw his players under the bus just for the sake of a story, I would have told you to shove it also.

  8. Thank you GrizFan. Your writing is much more indepth and balanced than Fritz Neighbor. I think Fritz needs to just get over it and quit being petty.
    I like Bobby Hauck the more I read about him. Welcome to UNLV!

  9. Thanks, RebelFan. Let me know if you have other questions. I'll be looking at the various sites for the next several days, and then off to Big Sky on Saturday for a week of skiing.

    BonB, there was more to the assault story. The student newspaper covered only the middle slice. Like you speculated, there was more to the incident both shortly before and immediately after the covered slice. Shortly after the dad contacted Hauck to report the matter, one or both of the players called the kid, and have since talked several times. It's unfortunate that this occurred (alcohol and late at night), but both sides were at fault and the matter was handled appropriately and satisfactorily by all of the involved parties. The Kaimin was trying to make a story, and acted inappropriately, in my view. The Kaimin also tried to make it sound like a cover up, and got multiple facts wrong--including saying Hauck called the dad, when in fact it was the dad who called Hauck to report the matter within several days of the incident.

  10. I went to school with both Neighbor and Hauck. When Neighbor became a report for Missoulian, Hauck took him under his wing. Gave him 1st shot at an interview. Neighbor turned on him. Making statements that were untrue. Hanging out at the Missoula bars, during the off season, hoping a Griz would make a mistake. Don't believe everything Frizzy says.

  11. Grizfan/Hauckfan,

    You both represent your state and university well. Good luck on your search for a new head coach. Happy holidays!

  12. Ignore the whining by our Montana press, Hauck will be a great asset to the Rebels and their fans. It has been a great pleasure watching the Grizzlies up here during the Hauck years. His teams have shown a lot of class and of course won a ton of games. Under Bobby, I have seen the Griz use a lot of local talent to great effect. The style of play has been very hard-nosed, yet clean. If you want to get a sense of Hauck's ability to bring out the best in players, look up the game the Griz played against a very good South Dakota State team this fall: http://www.montanagrizzlies.com/pages/ne... Good luck to the Rebels in the years to come.

  13. Rebelfan4life, I don't know about a not guilty verdict but in the report I read the defendant went to the victims home of his own free will with a loaded weapon then subsequently shot him to death. Self defense? Ya, sure it was.

  14. I'm a die hard Griz fan and native Montanan. I live in Missoula and can tell you that most of the people here are happy to be bringing in someone else just for the simple fact that it's just time for a change. Hauck did a great job coaching here and he paid his dues and then some. Fritz is right about Hauck being stubborn, which I think is a positive thing as a head coach. There is also no doubt at all that Hauck is a very arrogant man and not the most personable guy in the world. The way I looked at it was, who cares? The guy wins football games, that's all I know.

  15. Lenny...here's the link to the story I was talking about:

    My concern with the story as presented was that a. It failed to mention the acquittal and b. There is a link to the actual arrest but not one to the acuittal. Very one sided and biased. Fritz must be very bitter.

    That being said, the bigger concern here is that the Las Vegas Sun published an article about Bobby Hauck written by someone with a grudge and they didn't bother to fact check - or to ensure all the facts were presented. They failed to mention that this is an Opinion piece, they basically promoted yellow-journalism.

    I know the Las Vegas Sun, once my favorite Las Vegas newspaper is struggling, but this is a new low and only manages to lower the bar of ethical standards for the media in this town.

    If I cannot expect them to report accurately and without bias on a story about a Head Coach of the UNLV football team, how can I trust them to accurately report on any other story of greater significance.