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Chris Ault steps down as Nevada’s head coach

Chris Ault AP

After nearly three decades at Nevada, the brains behind the innovative and widely-copied Pistol offense is set to holster his coaching career.

Chris Ault, one day after confirming a press conference for today that would be held to address the “future and direction of the Wolf Pack football program,” announced he is stepping down as the Wolf Pack’s head coach, effective immediately.  The decision ends a 28-year head coaching career at Nevada that spanned 37 years.

“Wolf Pack football has firmly established a blueprint for success that can be sustained,” Ault said in a statement announcing his retirement.

“Chris Ault truly has been Nevada Football for more than 40 years,” athletic director Cary Groth said. “He has left an indelible footprint on not only the football program, but the University as well.  His legacy is one of success, honor and tradition. There is a reason that he is in the Hall of Fame and was one of the youngest coaches ever inducted.  I know I speak for the entire community in congratulating – and sincerely thanking – Coach for his honorable service to college football and our University.”

The release stated that the school and athletic department “will act quickly to identify Nevada’s next head coach through a national search.”

Ault spent three separate stints as Nevada’s coach — 1976-92, 1994-95 and 2004-present.  He was also a Wolf Pack quarterback in the mid-sixties and the school’s athletic director from 1986-2004, guiding the Nevada football program from the Div. II level to Div. I-AA to the FBS level (then-Div. I-A) in 1992.

All told, Ault spent 41 of the past 48 years at his alma mater as a player, coach and/or administrator.

The 66-year-old Ault finishes his coaching career with a 233-109-1 record; won five FBS conference championships and 10 total;  and led the Wolf Pack to 10 bowl berths, including one in each of the past eight seasons.  In 2002, Ault was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Oddly enough, the Pistol offense, which has been utilized by numerous college football programs and has even found its way into the NFL, wasn’t even a part of Ault’s résumé when he was elected to the Hall.

“Chris Ault truly has been Nevada Football for more than 40 years,” Groth said. “He has left an indelible footprint on not only the football program, but the University as well.  His legacy is one of success, honor and tradition. There is a reason that he is in the Hall of Fame and was one of the youngest coaches ever inducted.  I know I speak for the entire community in congratulating – and sincerely thanking – Coach for his honorable service to college football and our University.”

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6 Responses to “Chris Ault steps down as Nevada’s head coach”
  1. jimbo75025 says: Dec 28, 2012 5:24 PM

    Well, all I can say is congratulations and good luck in retirement Coach Ault-you did things right. I used to live in Reno and while I was not affiliated with the university in any way, Alt had a great reputation in the community.

  2. jcracc says: Dec 28, 2012 8:00 PM

    I became a total fan of Coach Ault …his innovation and invention of the Pistol has football offenses changing everywhere—even in the NFL and his pupil Colin K. will show the greatness of the offensive genious. Congrats Coach you have truly left an imprint on football at EVERY level!!

  3. boiwyo says: Dec 28, 2012 10:40 PM

    Seriously? How is the headline for this not “Ctrl+Ault+Delete”? But seriously, folks, Chris Ault is a Nevada and college football icon, a status earned through loyalty, football brilliance, and persistence. I remember well as a lad watching Nevada claw and fight its way back in numerous games from waaaaay behind to win–and this is in the 1-AA days. He took a really good 1-AA program into a place where it may now do some things at the 1-A level. Along the way, he continued to develop players and innovate schemes rather than stick with the status-quo. Any school would be lucky to have someone like him. Good luck, Coach Ault.

  4. hahapapa says: Dec 28, 2012 11:58 PM

    If only the bigger names in college football had the character and charisma that Coach Ault has shown. That much loyalty and longevity to the same school for that long.. good for you Coach Ault. Good luck in what ever paths you may take from here..

  5. charliereno says: Dec 29, 2012 12:46 AM

    @hahapapa, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I moved to Reno my freshman year of high school from the east coast in the spring 1990. I had never heard of Nevada at that point, nor was I well versed in I-AA football. That didn’t last long, as that fall I became acquainted with Wolf Pack Football, led by The Little General himself, Chris Ault. That man built a program from a tiny I-AA team, into the well known Division I brand name that it enjoys today. And he did it without ever being paid anywhere near as much as his fellow coaches, and with very little funding. He remained loyal to his University when he was offered other jobs (to include the NFL), because he gave a damn. He also cared about the young men he put through his program, and held them to a high standard, dismissing any player, to include starters, if they messed up and embarassed their team/university/city. That isn’t something you find a whole lot of amongst the ‘big time’ coaches at the major level. He’s a straight-shooter, a great coach, a football innovator, and a good man. I wish him all the best and will really miss him on the sidelines at Mackay.

  6. pdcooper08 says: Dec 29, 2012 5:23 AM

    charliereno says:

    Very well stated, he will be missed. Back in the mid- 80’s I played against Reno when they where DI-AA. During that time, he dominated the Big Sky and always had his teams in the top ten. What he has accomplished in his career, is second to non.

    Coach Ault has retired before and when he was gone, the program suffered immensely. I just hope their might be someone on the current staff that has the same spirt and the blue print to keep the train rolling. I’d really hate to see the program drop off.

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