Bobby Ball 2.0

Lets not pretend the potential rehiring of Bobby Hauck is all conference titles, playoff wins and packed stadiums. Bobby brings a lot of baggage. Should Bobby taken to task for things that happened nearly ten years ago? Certainly. This is the world that we live in, just sweeping things under the rug, or burying our head in the sand for the sake of victories is no longer tolerable.

Consider what happened to Greg Schiano at Tennessee in the past 48 hours. He was all set to become the next Vol head coach and was unceremoniously dumped on the side of the street because of lingering allegations of cover up of sexual assault while at Penn State. Should Bobby receive similar treatment? Probably not, but his potential hire should be paired with tough questions about program behavior, his own behavior and the relationship between football and the campus and community.

Bobby Hauck 1.0

Like it or not there are a lot of individuals within the University and outside of it that don’t share the same love and affection for Bobby that fans do. Teachers, Administrators, Journalists, Law Enforcement and community members saw Bobby as the leader of a lawless program with little or no-accountability. When Bobby took the job at UNLV there were hundreds that exhaled because there was like it or not a tremendous amount of Bobby fatigue.

While Robin Pflugrad was the face of the sexual assault scandal, there were many that placed blame not on Robin but squarely at Bobby’s feet. A program run amok, and Bobby exhibited at times the behavior that his players did. He engaged in public squabbles with journalists, chose to discipline behind closed doors, and his truculence with authority members certainly played into that perception.

What is interesting about Bobby, is that the order he brought to the field, he couldn’t manage off the field. The number of incidents, his own as well as his players, never really seemed to subside rather they gained in intensity and frequency as his tenure moved on.The list is long and frankly not very impressive from a PR perspective.  Pair Bobby’s off-the-field legacy with the fallout because of the Sexual assault scandal and the desire to rehire Bobby seems to be at a minimum tone-deaf. To some I assume it feels like a gigantic slap in the face.

These are issues the University, the Athletic Department and Bobby will have to address over the coming months if they decide to go in this direction. The desire to rehire Bobby, which makes the perception decidedly cloudy, came from outside the athletic department and within the booster and fan community. Is this a win at all costs philosophy here? Maybe, the only other rehire that would receive more glare from the public eye is bringing back Robin Pflugrad.

Bobby 2.0

I have no doubt that Bobby is a wiser man than his first tenure here. The lessons learned from his tenure here as well as at UNLV, and SDSU are no doubt going to be important. There is a grand illusion from a fan standpoint, that he’ll be able to replicate the same type of production from his first tenure immediately. He would step into an environment that is decidedly more hostile in the community and the program is on a diminished level from when he took over in 2003.

Moreover the conference is better in regards to depth than it was 15 years ago. Montana was clearly miles ahead in the conference and held a national position that it does not now. There are at least two programs (EWU/WSU) and maybe a couple more (NAU/SUU) that have comparable talent level and cache within the conference and nationally. Montana isn’t clearly better than any of the those four schools, maybe comparable in talent, but its stature in the conference is surely diminished.

Can someone like Bobby rehab that image? Most certainly, but it is going to require a crap ton more work than what he had to in 2003 when he took over. He would inherit a program where its has seen coaching changes, lack of continuity and a near decade of lackluster results in the conference and nationally.

Bob Stitt committed to a process that was an aggressive rebuild that brought good results but not the type that Grizzly fans had come to expect. A rebuild that was aborted midway through the process.  There is increased pressure for Bobby to bring immediate results, not only because of the firing of Stitt but also because of his own frankly unbeatable first run here. That is why this move to hire Bobby from a fan’s perspective is incredibly short sighted.

There is a pretty narrow path for Bobby to travel to meeting expectations considering the current landscape of Missoula, the Big Sky Conference and FCS football that Bobby Hauck can produce the type of results that fans expect of him. He’ll have increased scrutiny, a craven fan base wanting immediate results, and market conditions that make the .700 winning percentage and deep playoff runs difficult.

Bobby is more than capable of leading a horse from the front of the pack, but can he get a horse that is trailing to the front. He struggled and got marginal results from UNLV. UNLV is a moribund program that was a power play on Bobby’s part to catapult his career. That failed, and he has quietly worked in San Diego to rehab his perception in the game.

His perception in Missoula, in regards to on the field success was never in question. That unto itself is probably the greatest challenge for Bobby to navigate. That Missoulians want him to return, to lead the program is more about what he has done in the past, and not about what he has done recently. Bobby is want to lead a program again, and Grizzly fans are desperate for the type of leadership that Bobby likes to provide. It is a marriage, but is it made in heaven?

Conclusions

Changing the course after hiring a guy who committed a significant rebuild of the program isn’t uncommon, and doing so after the guy was reasonably successful isn’t either. Expectations are sky high here, and so is impatience. Hiring a guy with as much baggage in the community as Bobby does, both positive and negative, is maybe a bit uncommon. Committing to this course of action is a very aggressive and impatient move. Does it have considerations for the future? Maybe not, is it appropriate for the present? Maybe.

Making Bobby Hauck the next head coach isn’t without its risks both on the field and off of it. While fans believe this is a risk free hire, this could most definitely go down in a burning ring of fire. There is a significant disconnect between what the fans want or need from the program and what it is actually capable of providing. That is absolutely true regardless of who is the next head coach.

Do not expect the whole community and campus to embrace the idea of Bobby Hauck. Nor should we expect a magic carpet ride. As I have said before, I believe the expectations are out of whack significantly. That we would consider Bobby again is testament to that. Is he the guy that can reset the program, while at the same resetting his image? Far from a guarantee on both.

Author: Grizfan24

A life long University of Montana Grizzly fan. Known for long winded blog posts about the minutia of sport. Often accused of double-speaking, soft-peddling and being pedestrian in everything he does. In addition that long winded blogging is influenced by his twenty years of coaching (if you want to call it that) football, baseball, basketball and occasionally obscure sports like full contact tiddlywinks. When he isn't writing manifesto's that would make the Unibomber feel inadequate he spends his time brainwashing youth as a high school teacher, consuming microbrews on the beach in San Diego, harassing his children with terrible puns and poop jokes, and spending way too much time in bunkers.

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