Tormey deserved another season
December 2, 2003
I may be in the minority, but I believe that University of Nevada football coach Chris Tormey deserved a chance to finish out his contract.
Tormey, for those of you who may have been hiding under a rock over Thanksgiving weekend, was fired by Chris Ault, UNR athletic director, Sunday morning after Nevada was blown out by Western Athletic Conference champion Boise State, 56-3, Saturday afternoon.
Ault cited Nevada’s four straight losses to in-state rival UNLV, failure to truly compete for a bowl game, Tormey’s 12-20 record in the WAC, his 16-31 overall record and the loss to Boise on Saturday as reasons for the dismissal.
Ault told a Reno newspaper that he found the loss to Boise State difficult to sit through, and that Nevada used to handle Boise State.
Who wouldn’t find 56-3 tough to sit through? A lot of teams, in and out of the WAC, have found it difficult to beat Boise State. The Broncos’ program has improved by leaps and bounds over the last 10 or 15 years, and Nevada’s program has been stagnant.
That loss to Boise State, even though Nevada had two weeks to prepare, shouldn’t have cost Tormey his job.
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Tormey went from 2-10 in 2000 to 6-6 this year. That’s improvement. Maybe not as fast as Ault would like, but improvement nonetheless. Ault was a great coach in his time, but I’m not sure he could have gotten more than six wins with this bunch.
This was truly a Jekyll and Hyde team, one that was truly hard to watch at times.
The defense was the team’s strength early, but that same unit was a huge liability the last few weeks of the season, giving up more than 50 points to both Rice and Boise State. It also was a group racked with injuries, and Nevada just didn’t have depth to overcome the injuries.
The offense struggled most of the year. Jeff Rowe couldn’t get the job done at quarterback, and his replacement, Andy Heiser, was only a slight improvement. Tailback Chance Kretschmer was solid, and Talib Wise showed flashes of brilliance.
Ault, who said Nevada has good facilities and the support of the community, said he was dismayed at the lack of attendance at the Hawaii and Fresno State games.
In both instances, cold weather kept the fans at home, and UNR was nuts for televising the Fresno State game. That decision alone probably cost them 2,000 in attendance. Also, Nevada isn’t that good where people are going to brave 30-degree weather and strong winds to sit through games later in the season like people do for NFL teams.
The school lacks support from the student body, and it showed especially at the Fresno State and Hawaii games where the lower student section was virtually empty both times. A lot of students were dismayed at being forced out of their end zone seats from a year ago. The school needs the kids, and should do whatever needs to be done to get them back out there on a regular basis.
Again, Tormey is leaving the program in better shape than when he inherited it from Jeff Tisdel, and that should count for something.
If Ault doesn’t like the shape the program is in, he needs to look at himself in the mirror. He made the decisions to hire Jeff Horton, Tisdel and Tormey.
Ault wants a big-name coach at Nevada, and there are three out there in Rick Neuhisel, who was fired at Washington, Mike Price, who was fired at Alabama before he coached a game there, and Frank Solich, who was fired by Nebraska despite a 58-19 record over six years.
However, Ault also has stated that he doesn’t want to deal with coaches who have unsavory pasts, which would be the case with Price and Neuhisel.
Another enticing name out there is USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow. The one mark against Chow is that he has no head-coaching experience.
What about Bob Biggs at UC Davis? Biggs has done a remarkable job with the Aggies, and his teams are fun to watch offensively.
The Aggies are in the process of going Division I in all sports and building a new 40,000 seat stadium on campus, so that keep Biggs where he is.
Art Shell, the former Oakland Raider coach, is a resident of Reno. He certainly has name recognition, but would he get tired of knocking on doors of 18-year-old kids trying to entice them to come play for him, and does he have enough patience for lesser-skilled players?
I think he would get tired of the recruiting, and as far as patience goes, only Shell could answer that.
It truly takes five years to build a decent program, and to build a program like Tormey was trying to do, you have to do with high school kids and not go for the quick fix with junior college players.
Tormey was promised five years, and he didn’t get it.
Now, it’s up to Ault to make a good choice and get somebody that can bring the program into regional prominence.
Darrell Moody can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 782-5121, ext. 213.