PROVO -- Athletes and coaches have the chance to develop relationships with each other off and on the field. Most of the times these relationships are among teammates, but sometimes those relationships extend between competing teams. This week BYU Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall will match his coaching skills against a very familiar opponent.
With UNLV heading to Provo to face the Cougars comes another meeting between Coach Mendenhall and Bobby Hauck, the head coach of UNLV. The two are longtime friends and have known each other for a number of years.
"His wife is from Montana and so is mine," commented Mendenhall. "They actually knew each other in college. So we go back quite a ways."
Coach Hauck started his career in collegiate athletics not as a football player, but as a track star at the University of Wyoming and then UCLA. He held assistant coaching positions at both schools, but made his main crossover into football at Northern Arizona University.
"He and I actually interviewed at the same job," Mendenhall said. "We ended up going head to head for the same defensive position. It ended up that we both worked on the same defensive staff. I coached the free safeties and the corners and he coached the defensive backs. We've been friends for a long time."
Hauck is at a new chapter in his career taking over the head coaching position of UNLV this season after a very successful run at the University of Wyoming.
"I'm excited to be here and believe UNLV is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family," Hauck said in response to his new responsibilities. "We're looking forward to building on the foundation put in place here by Mike Sanford."
Hauck is finding his job easier said than done. UNLV has been kicked out of bowl eligibility and is currently 1-3 in the Mountain West Conference and 1-7 total on the season. Their scoring offense is nationally ranked 117th out of 120 teams and have lost to their opponents by almost four touchdowns (27.5 points).
"We're excited to go to BYU to play a good BYU team who is in need of a win like we are," Hauck said. "Every week is crucial. Every week is going to count whether we're going to be eligible for a bowl game or not; every week is critical."
This year's meeting comes at a hard time for both coaches. Although UNLV is in a rough spot, Coach Mendenhall and the rest of the Cougar team aren't taking their opponent less seriously.
"I think that they are a good team," commented senior defensive back Brian Logan. "I know that they have some big play guys; I look forward to the challenge. Our strength has been stopping the run and I think that with their weapons and their receiver core they're an excellent opponent."
"I think that our team has a pretty healthy respect for UNLV and they've always had," said Mendenhall. "UNLV has had some capabilities which our team has to respect. Anyone at anytime can beat someone else. My focus hasn't been on UNLV it's been on our team. I know that UNLV will play very hard."