Chris Ault announced he was retiring today after 28 years as the head coach at Nevada. It is not clear if Ault has been planning on retiring or whether pressure from the athletic department was applied after Nevada lost 5 of their last 6 games this season. Other factors to consider are that in 2012 Nevada moved into the most competitive conference it has ever played in, the Mountain West, and Ault's salary is about half of the average salary of Mountain West coaches. Nevada's football budget is far less than other programs in the Mountain West. When asked whether the limited budget and the loss of coaches was part of his decision to retire, Ault said, "All of that plays into the decision ... I want to be a Top 25 program and we have that opportunity, but there are so many intangibles that I had to deal with." Apparently, the 66 year old Ault has not totally ruled out coaching somewhere other than his alma mater.
Ault was one of the coaches I really admired. He took Nevada from a D2 program to a D1AA in 1978 to a D1A program in 1992. You would think a university with limited resources would be a doormat in the FBS, but that was not the case with the Wolf Pack under the leadership of Ault. Nevada was a legitimate program. He led the Wolf Pack to 10 bowl games in 12 FBS seasons. Nevada won a share of the WAC Championship in 2005 and 2010. The Wolf Pack finished 13-1 in 2010.
Chris Ault forever changed football with his "pistol offense". The pistol is a modified version of shotgun where the quarterback takes the snap from a shorter distance with a running back lined up directly behind the quarterback. The pistol is now used in all levels of football from the NFL to college to high school.
I have been watching college football for many years and have always awed at Ault's coaching and what he has been able to accomplish. Wolf Pack football never commited any major violations and had a high graduation rate. Ault not only won, but he was truly one of the good guys in college football, something exceedingly rare nowadays. It will be weird watching Nevada and not seeing Ault on the sidelines.