Stephen Sylvanie/Las Vegas Sun
Up until Saturday night, when the UNLV Rebels football team beat the Air Force Falcons, UNLV fans were calling for Bobby Hauck's head.
Bobby Hauck's 2012 season has been quite the ride so far. And it's only been four games.
On Saturday night, the Rebels got the first win on the season over Air Force in a come-from-behind victory, 38-35. This was not the first close game on the season for UNLV, as the Rebels had also been in three close losses in previous weeks. The Rebels lost their opener in triple overtime to Minnesota, lost on a field goal with 12 seconds left to Northern Arizona, and lost to Washington State 35-27 as their drive at the end of the game ended in failure.
With each loss, the UNLV fanbase grew more and more impatient with the third year head coach until, following the Washington State loss, many were calling for his head. Hauck's only four victories in his tenure, over New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State, and Hawaii, weren't very encouraging, and neither were his twenty four losses. Those losses were generally blowouts, one coming at home to Southern Utah in the fashion of a 41-16 beatdown, with the exception of the three close losses at the beginning of the season.
The message that people were getting was that Hauck could talk the talk, but couldn't walk the walk. The bottom line was that the Rebels weren't winning, in some cases against opponents that should be inferior. The Rebels needed to start winning soon or Hauck would be in serious hot water. And on Saturday they did just that.
The Rebels finally were able to finish the game the right way, and that's the key. Throughout this season, the Rebels have shown they are much better team than they were in Hauck's previous two seasons in the fact that they were competitive in those three losses and truly had a chance to win each of those games, unlike those previous 21 losses in Hauck's tenure in which the Rebels were consistently blown out.
The fact that the Rebels were right there, with a chance to win, shows that this team is better than junk, and that they are absolutely improving. The next step was figuring out how to finish those games, and that UNLV did on Saturday night.
Yes, the offense got off to a pretty slow start this season, but that was to be expected. UNLV was starting a redshirt freshman quarterback and had very inexperienced wide receivers. With the passing game not quite being up to par yet, the offense wasn't going to break any records.
The bottom line is that this team is very young, and will improve as time goes on. Not just throughout the season, but as the team progresses to next season and the season after that. UNLV's offense has already shown the maturity and improvement since their first game against Minnesota, where they were only able to score 13 points in regulation, to scoring 38 points on Air Force.
I guess what I'm trying to say is don't give up on Hauck just yet. The transformation is evident in this team. The Rebels are playing as if they believe they could win against anyone, unlike teams of the past, and their talent as a whole is improving. This team hasn't quit on Hauck and won't. Hauck has got this team to buy into his philosophy and that's something that UNLV coaches haven't been able to do.
If Hauck is given the time, he will start transforming the good competition of his team into more wins. The Rebel fanbase and administration just have to stay strong behind him and believe in him.