Chris Ault deserves his just due | NevadaAppeal.com
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Chris Ault deserves his just due

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

On Thursday, the Board of Regents voted to extend Chris Ault’s contract through the 2012 football season.

The contract calls for Ault to make $360,000 through the 2008 season, and then get a bump to $385,000 from 2009 to 2012.

I applaud the Board of Regents on their decision. Since his return to the sidelines for the third time at Nevada, Ault has put together back-to-back winning seasons and led the Wolf Pack to back-to-back appearances in the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl and the MPC Computers Bowl.

Ault’s extension gives Nevada’s program the continuity it so desperately needs.

In fact, and I’m sure this statement will cause some uproar, I think Ault deserves the right to call his own shots with regards to how long he stays on the sidelines. It should be his choice as to how long he stays – unless Nevada commits NCAA infractions and gets put on probation. As long as the program stays clean, Ault should decide when he wants to retire.

How much more can one man do at a school? I’ll give you an answer – not much. What Ault has done in his previous 22 years at Nevada is comparable to what some of the legends like Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno are doing at their institutions.

True, the other two men I mentioned have accomplished greatness on a bigger stage, but Ault must be doing something right considering he was voted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Simply put, Ault has meant as much to the University of Nevada as the aforementioned trio. When you think Nevada football, Ault’s is and should be the first name that jumps from your lips.

Ault is the fifth all-time active winningest coach in college football with 185 wins, ranking behind Bowden, Paterno, Frank Beamer and Jim Tressel. The latter I will point out coached at the Division 1-AA level, too.

Ault has had only two losing seasons in the past 22 years. He was 5-6 in 1987 when the Pack was in the Big Sky Conference, and he was 5-7 in 2004 which was his first season back on the sidelines. In all fairness to Ault, that was a team totally recruited by Chris Tormey’s staff. He has taken Nevada teams to the post-season and won four times and is the all-time winningest coach in Big Sky history and won eight conference championships.

And please, don’t insult me by saying that Ault doesn’t deserve the status because a lot of his wins were at the Division 1-AA level. The man, like him or not, can coach football. His knowledge of the game, especially on the offensive side of the ball, ranks up there with the all-time greats. I have no doubts that he could be an offensive coordinator at any BCS school or in the NFL for that matter. Trust me on this, you don’t get your own gig in college at age 29 unless you have something on the ball.

Somebody said a few years ago that some of the people in Northern Nevada like Ault win, lose or draw. Others stay away because they don’t like him at all. Others have no opinion, but they just want a winning team.

That wasn’t a surprising comment. I’m sure that good, no make that great coaches have ticked off a few boosters, fans, media members or athletic administrators with their actions during the course of their careers. I’m sure that Paterno and Bowden have/had detractors during their careers.

I’m sure that has accounted for the less-than stellar crowds at Mackay in the past three years. Nevada has played some great football at home, including the 2005 win over Fresno State, which earned the Pack a co-championship in the WAC. Folks need to put their opinions aside and support the team.

You aren’t always going to be the most popular guy, and Ault knows that. Chris Ault is going to be Chris Ault. He’s 61, and he’s not going to change the way he does things.

There are a couple of times, and only a couple, when Ault has been less-than cordial since I started covering Wolf Pack football in 2004 when he started his comeback. I usually chalk it up to the coach having a bad day. It happens.

For the most part, I find him approachable, and when you have a special story you are working on, he’ll give you the 30 minutes you need to do your job the right way.

When Ault returned in 2004, he was the only guy that was going to get Nevada pointed in the right direction. He, more than anyone else, knew the lay of the land here. He has helped get Nevada established recruiting-wise in Arizona and Southern California where the Pack often goes head-to-head with Pac-10 schools for players, and wins some victories.

He has been the force that has put Nevada back on the football map, and I truly think all of his work should be rewarded.