Chris Ault stepping down at Nevada

The mastermind behind the pistol offense, Chris Ault, has decided to step down as the head coach at Nevada.

Ault has overseen the transition of the Wolfpack program as it has transitioned form Division II to Division I-AA finally into the FBS ranks. Ault's commitment to the University stretches beyond just that of a football coach, as he's also served as the athletic director from 1986-2004.

His best season as head coach came in 2010 when the Wolfpack finished 13-1 and 11th in the final polls. Alltogether, he compiled six seasons of at least ten wins and just one losing season in conference play dating back to the early 80's.



We saw a note recently that Ault has spent all but eight years of his adult life as a player, coach or administrator for the Wolfpack. That's dedication.

With the identity of the pistol entrenched in the culture at Nevada, we would expect the next head coach  to keep the identity of what has made the football program so successful.

We also can't help but wonder if front offices of NFL teams have been reaching out to Ault to come on board as a consultant to stop the pistol which is quickly spreading throughout the league. 

Frank Solich talks about the game that changed his offensive philosophy

Back in December of 2010, Frank Solich and Ohio faced a wide open, high octane Troy offense in the New Orleans Bowl.

Entering the game, Troy ranked in the top 25 in passing, total offense, and scoring, and operated their offense at a breakneck pace. When it was all said and done, the Trojans had put up 48 points and it's safe to say that Solich walked away impressed.

In fact, he was so impressed that he made a trip down in the offseason to visit with the Troy staff and learn about dailing things up a notch up in Athens.

Since that meeting, the Bobcats have ran an average of nearly 20 more plays per game (59 plays per game in 2010 compared to 78 per game in 2012). Back in 2010 Ohio ranked 95th in total offense. The next season they immediately improved, climbing 70 spots to 25th nationally, and this season (with a much tougher schedule) still rank comfortably in the top half of teams in the country at 43rd in total offense.

It's common sense for offensive guys. More plays equal more yards, and more plays and yards equal more points, and more often than not, more points mean more wins.

2011 marked a 10 win season for the Bobcats, and this season the team won eight of their first nine games before losing three straight to finish the regular season at 8-4. Their bowl game against Louisiana-Monroe is taking place as this is being written.

Credit Solich for identifying the evolution of the game and meeting with a program that has been on of the most successful and productive with the spread and then adjusting it to his personnel. He talks to Tim Brando  about the evolution of offenses and explains that the change in philosophy has made recruiting noticeably easier on the Tim Brando Show recently.

Kentucky's recruiting pitch: 'Come be a hero'

At every introductory press conference, the new head coach talks about the importance of keeping in state recruits from leaving, and "building a fence" at the border to make sure they stay in state and consider their program.

At Kentucky, where three former players have joined the staff, the message to in state recruits is simple. Come be a hero.

According to KentuckySports.com, that's the pitch that offensive coordinator Neal Brown and assistants John Schlarman and Chad Scott, all homegrown products that played for the Wildcats, are using on recruits. Their pitch reminds recruits that guys like Tim Couch and Andre Woodson were high school products of the Bluegrass State that turned things around for Big Blue Nation during their playing days.

Many coaches believe that loading your roster up with players that have the opportunity to play in front of their friends and family and for a program that they grew up watching, produces results on the field that are hard to explain.

The thought process is that guys naturally to play harder and have more pride in the program when they've grown up around it and are emotionally invested in the outcome, rather than playing for a program that they grew up watching from across the country and picked for different reasons.

Keeping recruits in state is important for any program at any level. At Kentucky they've developed a catchphrase that will capture the attention and imagination of in state recruits to go along with the idea that, if they can get things turned around, that they can be a revered figure in the state for years to come. 

That's a pretty solid two pronged approach that most programs should be able to easily adapt and use for themselves during this recruiting season.

10 things to consider before taking a new job

This article is republished with permission of Coach Chris Fore. 

Coach Fore writes a very good blog on empowering coaches and is a good follow on twitter

Note: Chris wrote this post about high school jobs; but certainly there are aspects that apply to every job. 

10 things to consider before taking a new job

1.  The Administration

Does the administration support athletics?  Is it support in word or support in deed or support in both?  I’ve worked at three schools since 2001.  Five at one, five at another, and started at my third school back in June of 2012.  Before 2001, I worked as a substitute for a few different districts as well, but don’t really count those.

I’ve seen some really great administrators who supported athletics, and some who didn’t.  I’ve seen administrators who SAID they supported athletics, and some who said they did but really didn’t when push came to shove.  I’ve seen one principal who was at just as many athletic events as me, the athletic director.  He (Dr. Terry Gaunt of Capistrano Valley Christian Schools in San Juan Capistrano) is the best principal I’ve worked for.  He supported athletics in more ways than his coaches would ever know.  One reason, he was the former Head Baseball Coach, former Athletic Director, and he played collegiate baseball.  He grew up around athletics.  It makes a big difference when your key administrators have been athletic directors and or coaches.

One way to find out if the administration really supports athletics is by asking around.  Try your hardest to contact some coaches at the school, totally off the record.  It’s usually not what is said, it is what is NOT said that will key you in to the admin.  Get to campus early on the day of your interview and ask around.  Ask some kids, it’s amazing what they will say to a guy in a suit that they don’t know!

2.  The History

What has happened with the football program in the past? I like to look at four time

periods, and literally go through their records and total them up.  What was their record last year?  How about the last three years?  The last five years?  The last ten years?  Total up their win-loss record of those four different periods.  See what the win percentage is.  Look hard at why they have the win percentage they do.  Have they been able to win any league championships over the last ten years?  If not, what can you see in their league that might tell you why.  For instance, when I was at Capistrano Valley Christian, I was competing for three years against THE best small school in the state of California, St. Margarets Episcopal.  They won 42 games in a row, a State Championship, and three section championships.  How awesome they were in my league huh?!  AND, less than 2 miles from my campus.  Here I was in their league, and they had the best three year run in their school’s history.

How many different coaches have there been the last three, five, ten years?  That should tell you a little about the win/loss record being where it is.  It will also tell you a little about the stability of the program.  Obviously, if they’ve been through five coaches in ten years, we have an issue.  You need to determine what the issues might be.  These two historical perspectives are KEY as you investigate the job: win/loss record and coaching history.

3.  The Enrollment

From 2001 to 2005, Linfield Christian went from 195 students to 450!  I left in 2006.  At Capistrano Valley Christian, enrollment went from 240 in 2006 to 172 in 2010.  Needless to say, football improved quite a bit while at Linfield, and got worse while I was at Capo.  I competed against Capo and we had common opponents in the 2001-04 seasons.  I was always impressed by them, and thought it would be a great school to work for.  BUT, I had NO clue what was going on behind the scenes with the enrollment.  A brand new school opened a few miles away that was just absolutely draining their 8th grade kids.  A large number of 8th graders were going to the newer, bigger, better school.  It had a very negative impact on the overall enrollment.  Not only did we go from 240 to 172 while I was there, we went from having ten international students to forty!

If you are going to a public school you might not have to worry about enrollment.  This is something that is so state specific, and area specific in your state.  I have no idea how enrollment issues effect a public school in Kentucky!!  But at a private school in Southern California, it’s tough to put together a competitive football program with an enrollment that is going down the toilet!

4.  The Money

Two areas here that are important: the money in your pocket and the money in your program!  How much are you going to be paid for your “day” job and your football job?  Sometimes coaches do not want to ask these questions, or really investigate this part of your job, for whatever reason.  But it is important for your family.  You single guys have a little more freedom here.  Us married guys don’t!  Will the money you will make be enough to meet the demands of your family?  I just had to turn down a job interview at a really decent program out here in a few divisions above where I’ve spent most of my career, because financially it just wouldn’t work for us.  Ask questions about camps in the summer too.  Coaches can make up some money by running summer camps.  You won’t retire off the money, but it can help supplement the minimal amount of money that coaching makes.  Instead of a nickel and hour, maybe you can make a dime!!  Ask about playoff money too.  Most schools don’t compensate their coaches for making it to the playoffs, and working hard for an extra one, two, four weeks.  Why is this?  The system most schools use mean that the more successful your program is, the less money you make.  Isn’t this weird?  I’m glad that school I just started at here in June, we were able to get the school board to approve playoff money. That’s how it should be everywhere.  Coaches, try to negotiate for this.  Our school is paying assistant football coaches $150 per week, the Head Coach $200 per week during the playoffs.

How much money will you have for your program?  We are all facing budget cuts these days, which means money is even more important to discuss!  A few ways schools do it: each sport gets a certain amount of money allotted to coaches they spend as they need, school has an overall athletic budget, school gives football a certain amount and rest is covered by boosters, etc.  It is very important to have an understanding of how the money works.  Do you have to fundraise for transportation, or is that covered? Do you have to pay to use the field during the summer or no?  What about an overnight camp you might want to have? How is this funded?  Can you do your own fundraising to buy the “over and above things?”  Get as much information as possible about the financial details of the football program at this new school.  My budget was once nailed for the reconditioning of helmets twice in one year!  I had to pay for the last guy who failed to send in the helmets right after the season, so I had to pay the bill in August; and then I had to pay when I got the helmets my team used eight months later.  I also had to raise money for a storage container at one school.  $2500 we had never talked about before I took the job.  Would it have been a deal breaker?  No, but it would have told me a LOT about the way money was handled.

5.  The Facilities

At Linfield Christian in Temecula, we put in a 1.2 million dollar beautiful Field Turf field in my first year as their Head Coach.  Three years later when I went to Capo, we practiced on one of the worst grass fields I’ve ever seen!   And we had to drive about a half of mile to get there as it was on another schools campus.  Again, something I didn’t investigate enough.  I knew they played their games off campus, but didn’t know about the practice situation.  That was a big headache I had to deal with.  Not ideal at all to get in your car every day and transport EVERTHING you need for a football practice.  That’s when I had to go and raise money for a storage shed for us to have at that facility.  There was no vision to have something like that there because “it was never done before.”  You see, they used to practice right on campus, on a nice field, and I knew about that.  But then the board decided to remove about half of the field because they put a driveway through that part of campus.  Talk about a game changer!

Find out about the game facility, the practice facility, the weight room, the locker room, everything you can think of facility wise.  Is there field hockey that you share the field with during the Fall?  Junior high football games to deal with?  Frosh, JV and Varsity have how many fields to use?  Where do you practice when the frosh team has a 3 pm game?  There are a lot of issues!  If you don’t HAVE to have the job, facilities might be something that turns you away.  Facilities can be one of those BIG headaches if not done the right way.

6.  The Philosophy               

What is the overarching philosophy of the school board and administration about athletics?  Is athletics something they do, or someone they are?  HUGE difference!  This philosophy of where athletics fits on a high school campus starts at the top, with the board of the school and works its way down.  You can have administrators who don’t buy in to the vision of the school board, but ultimately, the board will win that.  You can have an immediate supervisor in an athletic director who has athletics as a priority on campus, but if the “real decision makers” on campus don’t agree with his vision, it will not matter.

Does their philosophy play out with decisions on a daily basis?  For instance, do they really want to build a football program and do what it takes to make that happen?  Does the school have a philosophy to get as many coaches on campus as possible, or do they rely on walk ons?  If their philosophy is to get coaches on campus jobs, is it happening?  Is the proof in the pudding?  These philosophical issues are major in your football program.  What is the philosophy of multi-sport athletes and how does that play out on campus?  Again, this comes down to philosophy.  Make sure their philosophy matches yours.                                                               Here’s a good one which was a deal breaker for me at one school I interviewed at.  I left saying, “If they offer the job, I won’t accept it.”  Told my wife that same thing that night.  The school’s philosophy was that no extra-curricular activities could take up more than 2 hours per day.  No sports teams, no drama rehearsals, no debate clubs, nothing!  Totally impractical! I can agree with no more than 2 hours on the field.  But this included weight room, field time, film time, meeting time, etc. No more than 2 hours together on any given day.  The only exception was travel time and games.  Obviously, travel time and games will take more than two hours.  I gave them an example of a Monday: 60 minutes in the weight room, 60 minutes in the film room, 20 minute team meeting, 90 minutes on the field.  This is a total of almost four hours on Monday, our biggest day of the week.  They laughed at it.  I knew our philosophies didn’t match.  They were 0-10 this year (2012) . . . .

7.  The Area                                                                                                                                                                     

Is this an area you want to raise your family?  Do you see yourself living in this area for three years, five years, ten years, or twenty years?  What are you willing to sacrifice to live in the area this school is in?  My wife and I have been trying to get a job out in Texas since about 2006.  We would love to raise our family there, for a variety of reasons.  But it’s difficult for a California boy to beat a good old Texas boy for a job!  I mean, that’s what makes Texas high school football the best in the nation right?  I was close in 2006, was a finalist on a job.  Beat out 105 guys, lost to one.  They flew my wife and I out there first class, only time I’d ever been in first class ever!  Booster Club took us out one night. When the principal dropped me off at the airport, his last words were “Now Chris, if you don’t win after a few years, we will be replacing you!”  I loved it!

Back to the subject at hand – the job might be a good job, but will the area be a good fit for your family, and just as important, is the area a good crop for football players?  Is football important in the area?  Does your school have a football reputation in the area or is there another school in the area the “football school?”

8.  The Opportunity                                                                                                                                  

Sometimes, you want to just take any head coaching opportunity to get yourself in to that “head coaching world.”  What you really need to consider when thinking about that next job is “is this a good opportunity for my career?”  Sometimes you do have to be selfish, which kind of goes against what coaches teach and preach most of the time.  But the bottom line is that you have to do what is best for your career sometimes.  Will this opportunity get you closer to your end goal?  That is the question you need to use to filter your decision.  I often regret leaving Linfield Christian in 2006.  The main reason I did it was because I was very weary of the classroom, and I wanted to become an Athletic Director.  The AD there at Linfield was married to the Superintendent, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  Football wise, I was in a really great spot with a program we had really been able to do good things with.  I went to a school that ended up dropping to 8 man football after being there five years, mainly because of the enrollment, and things behind the scenes I didn’t know about.  In many ways, quite honestly, that killed my coaching career for a little while.  When I started looking elsewhere, all of a sudden, I was an 8 man coach.  I had only done it one year, with ten years of 11 man coaching, but you are only as good as your last job.

So, you really need to judge whether or not this move is a good opportunity not just for the short term, but the long term as well.  Y-O-U are the only one who knows that.

9.   The Tools                                                                                                                                                                 

What do you have at your fingertips to build the program of your dreams?  Does the school have what it takes for you to do what you want to do?  If they don’t, do they have the financial commitment to buy those things?  Again, I refer to Linfield Christian where I first became a Head Coach.  I would buy twenty four footballs per year there.  I LOVE having a lot of footballs around.  And I like them to be nice.  We would usually break out two new balls per week, and turn two old ones in to kicking balls, or give them to JV.  When I went to CVCS, they said “We ordered you five footballs for next year, one more than we ordered last year.”   I literally laughed out loud, I thought it was a joke.  But what I realized is the last coach only asked for that many balls.  When I asked for more, they bought them.  When I asked the parents for money for a new digital video editing system, one parent stepped up and wrote a check.  Those are tools.                                                                                                                                                                     I also consider the student-athletes on your campus as tools for your program.  Are the tools there?  I once hired a coach who came in and I would refer to “the kids here.”  He stopped me one day and said “Coach, kids are kids, it doesn’t matter where you are.”  A few years later, he agreed with me, “the kids here are different” he agreed.  Does this job have kids that make football players?  Let’s face it, sometimes schools don’t have the Jimmys OR the Joes!  Make sure you know what kind of tools you will have.

 10.  The Family

(My wife just saw my list and said “I’m glad that I’m number 10!!  As I told her, these are in no specific order!)      

Is this a good move for your family?  You know what they say “Happy wife, happy life!”  Will your wife be okay with this move, if you are married?  What are the positive and negative things for your family with this move?  For instance, at this school I just started at in June as the Athletic Director and Varsity Football Special Teams Coach, I’m now literally two minutes away from school.  And my son who started kindergarten this year, his school is between our house and my high school.  Talk about a LOT of convenience.  Before this job, as a married couple, I had never lived closer than a thirty minute drive to work.  We’ve been married almost nine years!  So, this move has been really great for our family.  The other thing is I’m making the same here in Victorville salary wise for my Athletic Director job as I did in South Orange County.  (If you know California, you know how huge this is!)  Again, a game changer for my family.

Men, we don’t always think of our families in our moves and career decisions, but you need to think of them in long and short term ways.  How many moves can your kids handle in and out of schools?  How many social groups can your wife change in and out of before she is over moving to support your career goals?  These are very, very important things to consider!



The Scoop on Friday's bowl games

A diverse triple-header gets us rolling into the weekend. ULM kicks the day off with the first bowl game in school history, Rutgers and Virginia Tech stage their first game since 2003 and Texas Tech meets Minnesota in a re-match of the epic 2006 Insight Bowl. 

Independence Bowl - Ohio vs. Louisiana - Monroe (2 p.m. ET, ESPN): A MAC team makes its first trip to Shreveport since 2004, while ULM will become the first Sun Belt program to play in the 36-year old bowl game. In fact, the Independence Bowl marks the Warhawks' first bowl appearance in 18 seasons as an FBS program. Todd Berry's team reached the national consciousness in September with back-to-back overtime thrillers against Arkansas and Auburn; in fact, the team set a school record with four overtime affairs this season. ULM's offense is keyed by the combination of quarterback Kolton Browning (second in the Sun Belt in total offense with 2,830 passing yards and 441 rushing yards) and Sun Belt-leading receiver Brent Leonard, who has caught 97 passes for 1,042 yards and 10 scores. Defensively, the Warhawks lead the Sun Belt in one metric: rushing defense (135.8 yards per game, 3.8 yards per carry). 

Frank Solich's squad started the season 7-0 and became a trendy dark horse to become the MAC's first BCS buster (an honor that eventually went to Northern Illinois), but dropped four of its last five games to bowl bound squads Miami (Ohio), Bowling Green, Ball State and Kent State. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton drew the preseason headlines, but running back Beau Blankenship proved to be Ohio's offensive engine. Blankenship posted eight 100-yard games, ran for at least 72 yards in every contest and ran for more yards than every MAC player not named Jordan Lynch. ULM may have the overtime experience, but Ohio has emerged victorious in four of its five games decided by one score or less. 

Russell Athletic Bowl - Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech (5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): The Orlando-based bowl has changed sponsors from a a sporting goods retailer (Champs Sports) to manufacturer, and features a one-time Big East matchup that has occurred 15 times in history, with Virginia Tech taking the last 11 meetings. In a rare down season under Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech sputtered to a 6-6 record behind a good-but-not-great defense and an offense that never truly got off the ground. Dual-threat quarterback Logan Thomas rushed for 528 yards and nine scores and threw for 2,783 yards but balanced 17 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. The Hokies, who needed to squeak by Boston College and Virginia to qualify for the program's 20th straight bowl. Virginia Tech's best win came in a 37-0 triumph over Bowling Green. Needless to say, Beamer's team needs a signature win.

Kyle Flood has stressed throughout December workouts that he wants to go 1-0 in the bowl, and to do that Rutgers will need to mentally rebound from an emotionally-draining 20-17 loss to Louisville in the regular season finale. The Scarlet Knights don't wow anyone on offense (100th in total offense, 94th in scoring offense) and win games through a consistent defense. Rutgers ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense and have permitted just 9.9 points per game in their nine victories. Rutgers ranked second in the Big East in rushing defense (105  yards per game, 2.94 yards per carry) and lead the league with 29 turnovers forced. 

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas - Minnesota vs. Texas Tech (9 p.m. ET, ESPN): Minnesota dismissed head coach Glen Mason following the Golden Gophers' blown loss to Texas Tech in the 2006 Insight Bowl and have needed six seasons and two head coaches to recover. The Gophers sputtered into Houston, dropping six of their last eight games. With an offense that produces 21.3 points per game (the second-fewest of any bowl participant), Minnesota will attempt to slow the game down as much as possible. The Gophers' defensive backfield will give Jerry Kill's team a puncher's chance, as Minnesota placed 19th nationally in pass efficiency defense with an average of six yards per attempt with 11 interceptions against 13 touchdowns.

However, those numbers were accumulated against a total of 357 passes this season. Texas Tech threw 547 passes in 12 games and, with senior quarterback Seth Doege playing his final game in red and black, figures to only up the ante. Texas Tech will be perhaps the most spirited of any bowl team playing for an interim coach, playing in front of a large alumni base in Houston with favorite son Kliff Kingsbury his program from the sidelines. The Red Raiders will do their best to put the ball in Doege's hands, who in turn will fire it to his pair of top 20 pass catchers Darrin Moore and Eric Ward, and turn challenge Minnesota to keep up. 

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