PROVO — While first-year UNLV coach Bobby Hauck will be facing BYU for the first time as a head coach Saturday, he is no stranger to Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall.
In the early 1990s, Hauck and Mendenhall interviewed for the same secondary job at Northern Arizona under head coach Steve Axman.
Hauck had been a graduate assistant at UCLA while Mendenhall had been coaching at Snow Junior College.
"We ended up going head-to-head (for the job)," Mendenhall remembered. "We interviewed for the same position. It ended up that we worked on that same staff with some really good coaches. I coached the free safeties and the two corners. He coached … the two strong safety positions. We worked really closely together."
After their respective stints at Northern Arizona, Mendenhall moved on to Oregon State while Hauck went on to become the head coach at Montana, where he led the Grizzlies to seven conference championships and seven postseason berths, including three national title game appearances.
Hauck, a Missoula, Mont., native, did not play college football. He was a track athlete at Montana before entering the coaching profession. His younger brother, Tim, starred at Montana as a defensive back and played for 13 seasons in the National Football League.
The connection between Bobby Hauck and Mendenhall goes even deeper than football.
"We've been friends for a long time," Mendenhall said. "His wife, Stacey, is from Montana, as well as my wife, Holly. They actually knew each other in college. So we go back quite a ways."
UNLV ON FUTURE SCHEDULES?: When asked about the likelihood of continuing to play UNLV after BYU moves to independence next season, Mendenhall would like to face the Rebels, and other Mountain West Conference teams, on a fairly regular basis.
"I'd like to have a game with our Mountain West opponents hopefully on a yearly basis as far as filling in our schedule. Whether they feel the same way, I'm not certain," Mendenhall said. "But that would be nice on a yearly basis to continue some of those natural rivalries.
"One of the things in terms of our future scheduling, I'm working really hard to make sure we play in all different parts of the country where certainly the LDS faith is gathered so there can be a connection between our team and members of the church.
"Vegas is just a fantastic place where I'd like to be able to return as frequently as possible just because of that point," Mendenhall added. "There are other places around the country that have similar bases. It might be annual now, but it would be nice to visit every two or three years just to make sure that connection is made. I sure appreciate the support the fans have given us, especially in the Vegas bowls."
TOUGH GAMES: BYU and UNLV have taken on two of the toughest schedules in the nation this season, according to the Sagarin computer rankings. The Rebels have the 12th toughest schedule and the Cougars have the 14th toughest schedule. Both teams have lost to No. 4 TCU and No. 25 Nevada.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company