BEHIND THE PLATE: Nevada honors Ault with naming of Mackay Stadium field
With nothing in the near future to continue his playing career, a short quarterback with more football knowledge than most wanted to dive into coaching.
After playing for the Nevada Wolf Pack when the team called the bowl off Evans Avenue home, the soon-to-be general got his feet wet when he headed East for an hour.
The Greenwave football program became the first stop of many for Chris Ault when he became an assistant for one year in 1968 before got his first head coaching job when he took over Bishop Manogue for three seasons. A one-year stint preceded his first college position, an assistant at UNLV from 1973-1975, before Ault came back home for good and took over the Wolf Pack in 1976. If Ault wasn’t on the sidelines, he was in the press box performing his athletic director duties and this week, the university honored the longtime coach by naming the field at Mackay Stadium. In his honor, the Chris Ault Field at Mackay Stadium has a deserving and satisfying ring to it after this former Nevada quarterback transform the Reno college into one of the most dynamic offenses in the country.
The Wolf Pack have gone from playing in the small bowl to relocating on the other side of campus where they now call Mackay Stadium home. Thousands of players have passed through the tunnel, including some from Fallon like Harvey Dahl and Josh Mauga. But Ault’s charisma and incredible aptitude for football, especially on the offensive side of the ball, turned Nevada into a legit West Coast offense that showcased “Air Wolf” during the 1990s when it played in the Big West.
He took the next step by helping move the university into a bigger conference when he the AD and after years of frustrating seasons in the WAC, Ault came back to the sidelines in 2004 and introduced the pistol offense the following season. Now, every level of the sport runs some form of the pistol as this high-powered form of trickery is tearing apart defenses.
From Pop Warner and SYFL to high school to even the professional ranks, the pistol has added another chapter to the evolving sport. Teams in the SEC run some form of the pistol and when former Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick showed off the brilliancy of this offense on football’s biggest stage, it made the game even more exciting. And none of this would be possible without Ault, who along with a couple of former coaches (including Fallon’s Chris Klenakis), changed the game forever.
The Nevada administration, including new AD Doug Knuth and new head coach Brian Polian, wasted no time in recognizing what Ault has not only done for the university but the game itself. Recently hired as a consultant with the Kansas City Chiefs, the college hall of fame coach will always be a part of this Nevada program because of his inventiveness, ingenuity and ability to take a small college program and turn it into one of the better non-BCS schools in the country.
Chris Ault is Nevada football.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at lvnsports.com.