Coach failed to put up winning season
RENO, Nev. -- Nevada football coach Chris Tormey was fired Sunday after failing to guide his team to a winning record in four seasons.
The firing came a day after Boise State (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) ended Nevada's season with a 56-3 victory. The Wolf Pack went 1-4 down the stretch to finish 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the Western Athletic Conference.
Nevada athletic director Chris Ault cited Tormey's overall record of 16-31 and failure to beat in-state rival UNLV as factors in his decision.
He acknowledged the blowout loss to Boise State was the deciding factor, saying it showed how the two former Big Sky powerhouses have moved in opposite directions since joining the WAC.
"That was tough to sit through," an emotional Ault told reporters at a news conference. "We used to handle Boise. The roles are reversed, and I don't like it.
"Torms was a solid coach, but the fit wasn't there. I think after four years we need to move on. My goal is to bring the best available coach here," Ault added.
Tormey said his teams showed steady improvement and he was disappointed by the firing. He raised his win total each year, from 2-10 in his first season in 2000.
"I don't think I damaged my reputation here at all," Tormey said. "We were rock bottom when we got here. We've been building it with the idea it was going to take some time.
"We were headed in the right direction, and I'm disappointed that we're not going to see it through. I believe we made a positive difference in the direction of the program," Tormey added.
But Ault said a fourth straight loss to UNLV coupled with a drop from a fourth-place tie in the WAC a year ago to sixth place this year weighed heavily in the evaluation process.
Ault also noted Tormey never beat WAC rivals Boise State, Fresno State or Louisiana Tech.
"There are a lot of factors that go into evaluating a coach but conference finish and beating your rival have a strong presence," he added.
With 18 starters returning for 2003 and the coaching staff heading into its fourth season, expectations were high for Nevada football.
And the Pack seemed poised for a charge at the WAC championship after starting the season 5-2 and posting a 28-17 upset of Washington on Oct. 11. But the team went downhill after the Pack's first win over a Pac-10 team since 1947.
Tormey's remaining one year on a contract that has a base salary of $135,000 per year will be honored.
Ault expects to name a new coach in December in time for the upcoming recruiting period. He said he has a short list of eight to 12 candidates and will begin the search this week. He declined to identify them.
"This is an excellent job," he said. "We have the facilities and what we need to win. We'll have a lot of applicants for the job."
Ault, who guided Nevada to championships when it was in the Big Sky, suggested he's not to blame for the program's woes.
"I go out of my way, unlike some athletic directors, to stay out of their (coach's) hair," he said. "You'll have to ask them ... I'm not going to interfere. I'll just be supportive."
Tormey came to Nevada after posting a 33-23 record as head coach at Idaho from 1995 to 1999. In 1998, his team won the Big West championship and beat Southern Mississippi in the Humanitarian Bowl.
As an assistant coach at Washington for 13 seasons in the 1980s and '90s, he made five trips to the Rose Bowl.
Tormey said he has no immediate coaching plans and is "open to all possibilities.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press