Nevada and fourth-year football coach Brian Polian “mutually decided to part ways” per a release from the school on Sunday afternoon.
The announcement was made minutes after Polian and members of the football team repainted the Fremont Cannon blue at a ceremony on campus following the team’s 45-10 win over UNLV in Las Vegas on Saturday.
“I want to thank Brian and Laura Polian for their work on behalf of Wolf Pack athletics and our community over the last four years,” Nevada Athletic Director Doug Knuth said in the release. “This decision is about finding a new head coach who will help us win a championship, and who will continue to build and strengthen relationships within our department, our campus, our alumni and our great community.”
Polian finished with a 23-27 record at Nevada and won one bowl game, the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, last year over Colorado State. The Wolf Pack finished 5-7 this year.
Widespread speculation about Polian’s future began once it was aware this highly anticipated season would not live up to the hype. A sixth loss in seven games, a 46-16 home defeat to San Diego State, dropped the Pack to 3-7 and eliminated them from a bowl game for the second time in 12 years.
The only other season Nevada failed to reach a bowl game was in 2013, Polian’s first season.
“I appreciate the opportunity that I was given by President (Marc) Johnson and the University of Nevada four years ago,” Polian said in the release. “I felt, and continue to feel, that we were building a solid foundation for this program. However, this season was fraught with adversity and in the end, we did not win enough games. Like every coach, I understand that this is a business. I wish we would have produced better results in 2016.”
While sustained success on the field proved allusive, Polian’s tenure brought unparalleled achievement in off-the-field pursuits, including the program’s highest APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores in the program’s history and a team grade-point average of better than 3.0.
Last year, linebacker Jordan Dobrich was named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, the “academic Heisman” and was the program’s first-ever National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete, one of just 12 in the nation.
Polian finished with a career 14-18 record in Mountain West play and went 2-2 against UNLV – losing twice at Mackay Stadium and winning twice in Las Vegas.
A national search to replace Polian is already underway.
“The future is very bright for Wolf Pack football and I’m excited to watch and cheer for the team as they hunt for a championship in 2017,” Knuth said. “Champions know the hunt for a 2017 championship begins with their off-season preparation and I’m certain our team leaders will keep the team focused on that goal beginning today. The Fremont Cannon is home where it belongs and we will work every day to make sure it stays there for a long time.”
This will be Knuth’s first time hiring Nevada’s football coach. Polian was hired by former Athletic Director Cary Groth, who stepped down in 2012, making room for Knuth.
Knuth has made a handful of hires that have resulted in immediate success at Nevada, most notably Eric Musselman (men’s basketball) and T.J. Bruce (baseball).