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Would UNLV be in the Pac 12 if they had hired Ault instead of Horton in 94?

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Since we're all bored and have nothing else to talk about, why not talk about hypotheticals and alternate history? Interesting question and response from Murray.

Ault proved that he was able to do more with less at Nevada, and would likely have done the same at UNLV. Honestly, UNLV football wasn't really a dumpster fire until after they hired Horton (Karma bitches :rock:). They had some pretty solid teams in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s.

In some alternate universe it wouldn't surprise me if UNLV is in the Pac-12 and had a pretty good program and fan support built by Ault. But I like our reality much better haha.

http://nevadasportsnet.com/news/reporters/murrays-mailbag-what-if-chris-ault-really-did-take-the-unlv-football-job

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This is a hypothetical question, but it almost wasn't hypothetical. Chris Ault nearly became UNLV's head coach in 1994. To use a football analogy, it was first-and-goal and the exchange was fumbled. Coach Ault has been open about this in the past, saying it was "very, very close" and "about two days away" from happening. Ault had taken a year off from coaching and was solely Nevada's athletic director at the time when UNLV AD Jim Weaver offered him the job and thought it was a done deal. The Las Vegas Review-Journal basically said it was fait accompli before Ault returned to Reno to discuss things with his family. His wife, Kathy, was supportive and told her husband it was his decision, but she broke down in tears, which led to Ault not accepting the job knowing she didn't want to leave Reno. Ault then called Weaver, who turned around and hired Jeff Horton, the Wolf Pack's head coach at the time, a couple of days later. Ault did not react well to that news, calling Horton a traitor, among other things, while branding it "The Red Defection" since Horton spent less than 6 month as Nevada's head coach after Ault hired, groomed and hand-picked him as his successor. Horton fired back by saying a move to UNLV was the only way to get out of Ault's shadow. Nasty, messy stuff.

From there, Horton failed at UNLV (he went 13-44 overall, 9-30 in conference play and was 6-39 in his final four seasons) while Ault returned to the Nevada sidelines in 1994-95 and again from 2004-12, going 88-51 overall, 60-25 in conference and winning four conference championships in 11 seasons. So what would have happened if Ault and not Horton took the UNLV job?

Ault was an admirer of UNLV's infrastructure in the 1980s and 1990s, which is why his interest was piqued in the first place. UNLV had the better budget, salary (UNLV offered him twice as much as Nevada) and the bigger stadium (Sam Boyd held 36,000-plus when Mackay Stadium held 14,000). Ault also had a soft spot for UNLV, which offered him his first assistant job in college even after he was begging Nevada for a job when he was a high school coach at Bishop Manogue and Reno High. It's not far-fetched to have seen Ault in scarlet and gray. And if he did coach in scarlet and gray, I'm more than convinced he would have created a powerhouse program at UNLV.

There's no reason why he wouldn't have. He coached at Nevada for 28 seasons and only had two losing campaigns. He won nine conference titles, including championships in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. This guy adapted with the times and got the best out of his players. He is an offensive genius. When he became Nevada's head coach, he inherited a program with minimal history, minimal support, minimal budget and minimal reason for being good. He made Nevada great. Ault took Nevada from Division II independent to Division I-A independent to the Big Sky to the Big West to the WAC and finally to the Mountain West. Imagine what he could have done at UNLV, which had a bigger budget, a better stadium, a larger potential fan base, more rich boosters, a better homegrown recruiting base and an athletic director in place so he didn't have to do both jobs.

Ault also proved he could build something from scratch, doing so in the 1970s when he first got Nevada's job and again in the 2000s when he fired and replaced Chris Tormey. The guy could build something out of nothing, and at UNLV he would have been starting further ahead in terms of support than he was at Nevada. He would have changed the culture at UNLV, and I believe he would have had multiple Top 25 seasons with the Rebels (the only reason that didn't happen at Nevada is because he had three separate tenures and things tended to fall apart when he stepped aside). It's no stretch to believe the Rebels would be in the Pac-12 by now if it hired Ault in 1994 and retained him for the next two decades. UNLV already had the basketball pedigree, the huge media market and some influential boosters. The two things it lacked in upward movement was a functioning football program and Pac-12-level academics. Ault would have solved one of those things, and perhaps it would be UNLV (and not Utah or Colorado) in the Pac-12 or UNLV (and not TCU) in the Big 12 if he did leave Nevada.

Everything worked out for the best for the Wolf Pack, which lucked out by retaining Ault, who creating some memorable seasons in the 2000s. After losing to UNLV and Horton in 1994, Ault won nine of his next 10 games against the Rebels before resigning in 2012. It's fair to say the Fremont Cannon would have far more red layers than blue ones if Ault had left for UNLV in 1994. He would have made more money and probably had some more historic seasons, but he wouldn't be considered the legend he is today in Reno if he left. He would have been respected by Wolf Pack and Rebel fans alike, but the reason he has legendary status is his loyalty, which doesn't exist in college athletics these days. That's worth more than money and a few extra wins

 

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Don't get me wrong with what I'm about say....I really, really ,really appreciate everything Ault did for UNR. His willingness to accept low pay , etc. His offenses were outstanding and fun to watch.

But, I wonder how much better Nevada could have been if we had a coach who believed in defense. ..

And to the OP....Southern Nevada would / will never be in the PAC 12.

 

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UNLV will get in the PAC-12 soon.

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Interesting idea. If UNLV had ever managed to establish itself as a perennial top 25 program, and that solved stadium and attendance problems, you're still stuck with imperfect academic fit and somewhat of a commuter school. That said, Vegas, geographic fit, and top 25 runs could've fixed a lot of things that others will never be able to bridge  (see Boise CC)...if the program and University got it's act together before the last round of realignment, why not? But it's also like saying, if we replaced the program, it's fans, stadium, players, and the school's academic profile with ones that are better in every regard but still based in Vegas, does that hypothetical school get the golden ticket? Sure!

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16 minutes ago, DestinFlPackfan said:

Don't get me wrong with what I'm about say....I really, really ,really appreciate everything Ault did for UNR. His willingness to accept low pay , etc. His offenses were outstanding and fun to watch.

But, I wonder how much better Nevada could have been if we had a coach who believed in defense. ..

And to the OP....Southern Nevada would / will never be in the PAC 12.

 

I always push back at this sentiment because it's a lot more difficult to have an elite defense at the G5 level.

There are just a lot fewer elite athletes on the defensive side of the ball and most of those guys are going P5.

On Offense, an innovative (Ault) or well executed (Air Force) scheme can be very successful with less than elite talent. This is just not true on the D side of the ball. Defense is all about reaction. Teams can get by with different schemes and great planning and coaching but they will never have an elite Defense without elite athletes. Unfortunately, not many of those guys are committing to a G5 school.

For instance, just look at last years team stats. On Offense, it's a mish-mash of P5 and G5. On Defense it's more of a Who's who of blue bloods. (props SDSU!)

https://www.espn.com/college-football/stats/team

https://www.espn.com/college-football/stats/team/_/view/defense

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59 minutes ago, Wyovanian said:

No

Ditto.

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UNLV would have won 5 Rose Bowls by now.  

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5 minutes ago, Swoll Cracker said:

UNLV would have won 5 Rose Bowls by now.  

 

They'd have stopped Vince Young and Texas on 4th down...

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1 hour ago, renoskier said:

I always push back at this sentiment because it's a lot more difficult to have an elite defense at the G5 level.

There are just a lot fewer elite athletes on the defensive side of the ball and most of those guys are going P5.

On Offense, an innovative (Ault) or well executed (Air Force) scheme can be very successful with less than elite talent. This is just not true on the D side of the ball. Defense is all about reaction. Teams can get by with different schemes and great planning and coaching but they will never have an elite Defense without elite athletes. Unfortunately, not many of those guys are committing to a G5 school.

For instance, just look at last years team stats. On Offense, it's a mish-mash of P5 and G5. On Defense it's more of a Who's who of blue bloods. (props SDSU!)

https://www.espn.com/college-football/stats/team

https://www.espn.com/college-football/stats/team/_/view/defense

I get what you're saying....but I never said 'elite defenses ' just a defense.  

We had to win 50 to 49 it seemed like every game.  Just fun stuff to go back and think 'what if ' which was the OP'S premise.

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No.

Ault racked up his wins in terrible conferences.

UNLV had to play BYU and UTAH, and then also TCU.

Ault had his day at UNR in the WAC.

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22 minutes ago, #1Stunner said:

No.

Ault racked up his wins in terrible conferences.

UNLV had to play BYU and UTAH, and then also TCU.

Ault had his day at UNR in the WAC.

Agreed. And BYU won a natty playing chitty teams. 

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Short answer, no.  Long answer, HELL NOOOOOOO!!!

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12 hours ago, NevadaFan said:

Agreed. And BYU won a natty playing chitty teams. 

BYU played your conference mates. 

You should come and see what the national trophy looks like sometime.  

 

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The real question is: Does any other school in the MWC get more troll bait threads than UNLV”?

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15 hours ago, ph90702 said:

UNLV will get in the PAC-12 soon.

I would swear that this poster is a reincarnation of Rebel Robert

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26 minutes ago, #1Stunner said:

BYU played your conference mates. 

You should come and see what the national trophy looks like sometime.  

 

Mr. Double-standard much?

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6 minutes ago, SixPack said:

I would swear that this poster is a reincarnation of Rebel Robert

Ph is the light version... younger with no context. Credit to Robert, he is actually old enough to have witnessed Vegas play when Tark was there.

But odd. Both have had weird behavioral issues on this board. Ph’s is well documented as is recent, but Robert had the kid-porn meltdown.

Damn... does Robert have a kid? 🤔

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