Bobby Hauck didn't find much time to watch his friend Rick Neuheisel coach in the EagleBank Bowl on Tuesday, but he did check in when Temple was up on Neuheisel's UCLA Bruins 21-7.

"Villanova knocked the dog out of Temple," noted Hauck, before UCLA rallied for the 30-21 victory. "And if you watched it on film, it wasn't that close."

Villanova began the season with a 27-24 win over the Owls, and capped it with a 23-21 verdict over Hauck's Montana Grizzlies in the Division I Football Championship, on Dec. 18. Five days later Hauck was introduced as the new head football coach at UNLV.

The 45-year-old spent part of this week packing up his office at the Adams Center, after taking a couple days off at the family cabin near Flathead Lake. He was able to decompress and answer some of the 400-plus text messages that had stacked up.

Now he's back working on the task at hand.

"You have a lot of irons in the fire, a lot of different fronts to take care of," said Hauck, who when he was hired at Montana was helping Washington prepare for the 2003 Sun Bowl. "Of course, we weren't preparing to coach a bowl game. That makes it a little more manageable - but it doesn't seem like it."

Hauck has some decisions to make about which assistants go with him to UNLV, where he takes over a program that had the kind of scattered success - 11-2 in 1984, 7-5 in 1994, 8-5 in 2000 - that Griz fans got used to seeing, pre-Don Read.

One decision has been made: Kraig Paulson confirmed Tuesday that he is heading to UNLV. That narrows the list of potential head coaches for Montana athletic director Jim O'Day, though he hasn't made his candidates or finalists public.

O'Day has referred all calls to his administrative assistant; he is conducting phone interviews this week, working in concert with his search committee at this point.

Sources have confirmed that Dave Schramm, who was Hauck's recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach in 2003-04, has interviewed for the job. Schramm moved to the University of Utah after the '04 season, and was the Utes' offensive coordinator this fall. The Utes beat Cal 37-27 last Wednesday in the Poinsettia Bowl; it was their ninth straight bowl victory.

Paulson, Hauck's assistant the last seven years and his defensive coordinator the last five, called his second coaching stint at Montana - he was the DC under Mick Dennehy from 1998-99, and has spent 20 seasons as a Griz assistant - "a great experience."

"That's just kind of the way it all played out," said Paulson, a Plentywood native who also played running back for the Griz from 1983-86, and started their "No. 37" legend. "I didn't get a formal interview, and I just decided to go with Bobby. It's the right move for me. But it was a great seven years."

Hauck was noncommittal about who he was taking with him to UNLV, though he chuckled while mentioning that his uncle, Tom Hauck - the former Griz player (1961-63) is in his 10th season as a Griz assistant - "is not interested in moving to Las Vegas."

There have also been reports that Mike Hudson, who joined Hauck's staff at UM in 2005, was not going.

"All that is premature at this point," said Hauck, who said he was leaning toward announcing all or part of his staff next Monday. "The one guy who knows exactly what is going on is me. And you know how I am; I'm never one to be hasty with that stuff. I'm working through it right now.

"Certainly I want to take the guys from here with me - they've done a great job. And it's hard for me, because it's not a reality to take everybody to UNLV."

Paulson's departure still leaves strong candidates from within the program and outside of it.

Brent Pease, a former UM quarterback and offensive coordinator who is the receivers' coach at Boise State, is one of the leaders.

Another is Robin Pflugrad, who just rejoined the UM staff last spring after 13 years at three different Pac-10 schools. Pflugrad is in his second stint with the Griz; he was on Read's staff from 1986-94, eventually taking the title of assistant head coach before leaving for Arizona State.

Dave Doeren, another former Griz assistant (2000-01) who is Wisconsin's defensive coordinator, is another strong candidate. Doeren and the Badgers played Miami in the Citrus Bowl Tuesday night.

O'Day had said ahead of Hauck officially taking the Rebels' job that he could announce a new coach by New Year's; he amended that to the following week, ahead of the American Football Coaches Association that begins Jan. 9.

Hauck said he hasn't had much input into who replaces him at UM.

"Just to the degree that I was asked," he said. "I didn't think it was my place to insert myself in the process."

Hauck noted that he was hired at UM on Dec. 20, 2003. Then, as now, it was a "dead" recruiting period.

"As long as it's done in the next 5-6 days, it'll be the same as when I was hired," Hauck said.

Hauck's teams went 80-17 and won or shared the Big Sky Conference title in each of his seven seasons, and made the FCS title game three times.

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or at fneighbor@missoulian.com.

 

 

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