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(All information as of July 1, 2005)
COACH AND PROGRAM
Chris Ault did some spring cleaning that would have made his grandmother proud.
In December of 2003, he sent head football coach Chris Tormey packing. As athletic director, that was his right. But he needed university president John Lilley's blessing to go from the boardroom to the field of play for the third time in a decade.
That's not a direction most men take, but Ault isn't your typical athletic department official. Watching the program's erosion under Tormey's tour of duty was particularly painful for a man who has been at Nevada since 1976. Ault was hired as head football coach the first time that season, a position he held through 1992.
For seven years Ault served two masters as athletic director and head coach. He took a year's sabbatical from football in 1993, only to return to back-to-back Big West Conference championships in 1994 and 1995, before retiring to a desk job for a second time.
There he remained as he helped guide Nevada from the back roads of the Big West to the thruways of the Western Athletic Conference. The transition required his undivided attention to all sports. In 2000, Ault welcomed Tormey to the Nevada family. He believed this Washington assistant would be a fitting centerpiece for the Wolf Pack program. But how wrong he was, as he discovered first hand over the coming months.
So, in 2004 it was out of the office and back to the field for Ault. He spent last season trying to make things work with a team largely recruited by Tormey, but after the season, the malcontents were asked to leave. In their place is a pair of recruiting classes that Ault believes will have the Wolf Pack edging toward title contention once more.
Most folks will focus their attention on Fresno State and Boise State in the coming campaign, leaving Nevada as a perfect dark-horse candidate that could win, place or show. Regardless, Ault needed only 18 months to rekindle the competitive fires he first lit the year America celebrated its bicentennial.