Nevada hires former LB Buh to head defense
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – The Nevada football program has hired a familiar face to fix an all too familiar problem.
Former Wolf Pack linebacker Andy Buh was introduced Thursday as Nevada’s new defensive coordinator, replacing Nigel Burton who left the program to become the head coach at Portland State last month.
“Andy Buh was not a great player,” Ault said. “Andy Buh was a guy who rolled up his sleeves, brought his lunchpail to work and got after you. And that’s how he coaches.”
Buh, who played for Pack head coaches Jeff Horton (1993) and Ault (1994), coached the past three seasons at Stanford. The last two years he was the Cardinal co-defensive coordinator with Ron Lynn.
“I’m thrilled to be back here,” said Buh, who began his coaching career at Nevada from 1997-1999 as a graduate assistant and as the secondary and special teams coach. “I bleed silver and blue. I wanted to come back where I belong.”
Buh takes over a Pack defense that finished 96th overall (out of 120 FBS teams) in the nation, allowing 409.31 yards a game. The Pack also ranked 22nd in the nation in run defense (111.54 yards a game) and second-worst in the country (119th) in pass defense, allowing 297.77 yards a game.
“Make no mistake, changes needed to be made,” athletic director Cary Groth said.
The only other change that has been made was the firing of long-time assistant Jim House. House, the defensive tackles coach, was a Pack assistant for 15 seasons, working under head coaches Ault, Horton, Jeff Tisdel and Chris Tormey. Buh added that the Pack will likely announce the hiring of a new secondary coach Friday.
“There’s a job that needs to be done here and we’re going to get it done,” said Buh, who did not call Stanford’s plays on defense. “I guarantee you that we will be good. I also can guarantee three things, that we will play with effort, we will play with attitude and that we will run and hit people.”
It was effort and attitude, Ault said, that was missing in the Pack’s 45-10 loss to SMU on Dec. 24 in the Hawaii Bowl. The loss was the Pack’s fourth straight in a bowl game and left the team with an 8-5 record this year.
“Our defense had no passion, no resolve and certainly no great effort,” Ault said. “And that falls directly on the shoulders of the head coach. A team that fought through so much last year somehow found a way not to show up in the bowl game. That makes me sick to my stomach.”
Buh has also coached at California (2000-01) as a defensive administrative assistant, at San Diego State (2002-2005) and Fresno State (2006) as linebackers coach.
“He’s worked his way up the ladder,” Ault said. “I am very proud of him.”
The Pack almost lost Buh to Western Kentucky. The former Pack linebacker actually accepted a job as Western Kentucky’s defensive coordinator and was headed there for the press conference before Ault lured him back to Reno.
“I called him up and told him, ‘Don’t go to that press conference,'” Ault said.
Buh played on Pack defenses that featured defensive lineman James Cannida and linebacker DeShone Myes, a pair of freshman on the 1994 Pack team. The Pack’s defensive coordinators during Buh’s career were Ken Mizell (1993) and, in 1994, co-defensive coordinators Steve Caldwell and Don Dunn.
“Andy didn’t have a lot of ability as a player, but he played with a lot of heart,” said former Pack quarterback Chris Vargas, who played with Buh in 1993 and is now a color analyst on Wolf Pack radio broadcasts. “He played with a lot of pride and passion and that’s what he is going to bring as a coach. Andy is going to put the hours in and do the work.”
Ault said he talked with Groth late in the season about making changes on defense.
“We had a talk with two games left in the season,” Ault said. “We both agreed that changes had to be made. Before the year I said that our defense would be the most improved part of our football team. That didn’t happen.”
Ault stopped short of saying that Burton would have been fired. Burton left the team shortly after the Pack’s final regular season game and before the bowl game.
“There was no question that we couldn’t go forward like we were,” Ault said. “We had to make changes.”
Ault said that Barry Sacks (defensive ends), Ken Wilson (linebackers) and James Ward (cornerbacks) remain on staff.
“You know, you can hire Vince Lombardi but that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to win,” Ault said. “You have to have people around that you can trust.”
Buh, Ault said, fits that description.
“Andy Buh is a special guyy,” Ault said. “(Head coach) Jim Harbaugh at Stanford could have hired a thousand different guys, but he hired Andy Buh. Andy is special. He’s Nevada. He’s us. He’s about Nevada.”