HONOLULU -- Nevada football coach Chris Ault is trying to
secure perhaps the only major accomplishment that has eluded him in
his 21-year coaching career -- a bowl victory.
The only active member of the College Football Hall of Fame has
complied a 176-73-1 record and taken Nevada from a Division II
program to the heights of I-AA and into I-A.
But the winningest coach in school history is 0-2 in bowl games.
He lost 35-34 to Bowling Green in the 1992 Las Vegas Bowl and fell
40-37 in overtime to Toledo in the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl.
"That means nothing," said Ault, who will coach in his third
bowl game on Saturday when the Wolf Pack takes on Central Florida
in the Hawaii Bowl.
"I don't play the games. I just coach them. That is all
history. Yesterday's news doesn't count. That is a canceled
check," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal in an interview this
Ault said that his induction into the hall of fame says enough
about his coaching career.
"I have said this all along -- I am one of the fortunate guys in
coaching," he said. "I have reached the highest achievement you
can reach in this business. I don't need anything more. I want
these kids to win. That is my focus. I am proud of these guys and
where they were."
Ault's coaching counterpart in Saturday's game doesn't have a
hall of fame induction but he does have more bowl-game experience.
UCF's George O'Leary took Georgia Tech to five straight bowl games
from 1997-2001 and has a 3-2 record in bowl games.
But UCF has never been to a bowl game.
Nevada's one bowl victory as a Division I-A member came the year
after Ault stepped aside for the second time. It was 1996 and it
was Jeff Tisdel who guided the Pack to an 18-15 win over Ball State
in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Ault's stance that being 0-2 means nothing is partly an attempt
to keep the focus on the players on this year's team.
"I have told them, 'You are Nevada's Christmas team,'" Ault
said. "That is special right there. All of my teams have been
special to me, but I can't recall a team that I wanted the players
to win more than this team. These guys have been through so much
and had to learn what attitude is about."
"We've had a great year, coming from no place to winning a
championship. But it can be better."
Historically, Ault-coached teams have lost their final games of
a season more than they have won them. That is partly due to the
Pack's tenure in I-AA, where a playoff system existed so only one
playoff team finished the season with a victory. In his 20 previous
seasons, Ault's record in season finales is 7-13.
The coach said that while his 0-2 record is "old news" and
that the players play the games, those comments shouldn't be taken
as a lack of desire to win the game on Saturday.
"Don't get me wrong. I want to win, too," he said. "There is
no question about that. That is the name of the game and this is a
one-game season. It is all on one thing."