RENO, Nev. – The University of Nevada has reached an agreement with Brian Polian as the recommended candidate to become the 26th head coach in the 106-year history of the Wolf Pack football program. The recommendation from University President Marc Johnson and Athletics Director Cary Groth will be forwarded to the Board of Regents for consideration at its scheduled meeting Friday in Las Vegas.
The proposed agreement calls for a five-year contract for Polian with a base salary of $475,000 plus incentives. Polian has coached in the collegiate ranks for 16 years with the past eight seasons at BCS schools working alongside some of the top coaches in the nation.
“Brian brings terrific energy and enthusiasm, an impressive and well-grounded coaching philosophy and a tremendous reputation as a recruiter and coach,” Johnson said. “These characteristics are even more impressive when you consider the outstanding programs with which he has been affiliated. I am convinced Brian is the right coach to continue the momentum and lead Wolf Pack Football to new levels of success.
“Our selection of Brian as the finalist candidate follows a national search and interviews with an impressive and diverse pool of candidates,” Johnson said.
Polian, 38, comes to Nevada after a year as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Texas A&M, which capped an 11-2 season last week with a win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. He has coached on both sides of the ball and earned a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation in previous coaching roles at Stanford (2010-11), Notre Dame (2005-09), UCF (2004) and Buffalo (2001-03). He replaces Chris Ault, who stepped down on Dec. 28, 2012 after 28 seasons on the sidelines and more than 40 years at Nevada.
“I would like to thank President Johnson and Cary for the incredible opportunity that they have presented me with,” Polian said. “I cannot express how excited I am to lead the Nevada football program into what will be a very bright future. I also want to take a moment to recognize and thank Coach Ault for the incredible foundation he has laid for Wolf Pack football. It is an honor for me to work to continue that legacy.
“It is a dream come true for me to become a head coach, and there have been many mentors and friends that have helped along the way. Marv Levy, Dom Capers, Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell are all great men that I learned so much from when they allowed me to spend time around their teams and coaching staffs. Coaches like Nick Saban, Jim Hofher, Charlie Weis, Jim Harbaugh and Kevin Sumlin all influenced me a great deal as I had the pleasure of working for them at various stops in my career. I have no doubt that the lessons that I have learned from all of these great teachers, and from others I have encountered along the way, will serve me well as we begin this journey at Nevada,” Polian said.
Hired by Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, Polian’s two-year run with the Cardinal was marked by a pair of BCS bowl appearances and two of the top recruiting classes in school history. He served as the special teams coordinator and recruiting coordinator while also coaching the safeties at Stanford. Prior to that, Polian spent five seasons at Notre Dame, earning a number of honors as one of the top recruiters in the country and was a nominee for the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) Assistant Coach of the Year in 2008.
“Brian brings to Nevada a solid resume and a great vision for the future of Wolf Pack football,” Groth said. “He has been mentored by some of the top football minds in the country and he has great experience in all three phases of the game. We’re excited to welcome Brian and his family to the Wolf Pack community.”
Polian spent one season at Central Florida as the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach and spearheaded recruiting classes that led to the Knights’ bowl appearance in 2005. Prior that, he coordinated special teams and coached running backs at the University of Buffalo for three seasons after a previous tenure (1998) with the Bulls. Polian also worked as a graduate assistant at Michigan State (1997) and at Baylor (1999-2000).
A native of The Bronx, New York, Polian graduated from St. Francis High School and played linebacker at John Carroll University from 1993-96. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from John Carroll in 1997 and received his master’s in education from Baylor in 2000.
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Polian and his wife, Laura, have a son, Aidan, and a daughter, Charlotte.
"My family and I are looking forward to joining the community very soon and we are excited to establish roots in area,” Polian said. “Laura and I, and our family, consider ourselves blessed to be able to call the University of Nevada and Reno our new home."
Polian’s hire is on the agenda for the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents meeting Friday in Las Vegas.
Polian’s Coaching Career
Year School/Team Assignment
1997 Michigan State Graduate Assistant (Offense), Tight Ends, Offensive Line
1998 Buffalo Tight Ends/Assistant Offensive Line
1999-2000 Baylor Graduate Assistant
2001-03 Buffalo Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
2004 Central Florida Running Backs/Recruiting Coordinator
2005 Notre Dame Head Special Teams Coach/Defensive Backs Assistant
2006 Notre Dame Head Special Teams Coach/Linebackers Assistant
2007 Notre Dame Inside Linebackers/Special Teams
2008-09 Notre Dame Special Teams Coordinator
2010-11 Stanford Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator/Safeties
2012 Texas A&M Special Team Coordinator/Tight Ends