One of the original architects of the pistol offense wants to return to the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Contacted via e-mail on Monday, former Wolf Pack offensive coordinator Chris Klenakis said he “wants the opportunity to be the head coach at Nevada.”
Klenakis, a Wolf Pack assistant from 1990-99 and again from 2004-09, spent the past three seasons as the offensive line coach at Arkansas. The entire staff at Arkansas was replaced stemming from the scandal last spring involving former Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino.
The 48-year-old Klenakis, who has also coached at Central Missouri (2003) and Southern Mississippi (2000-02), was one of the masterminds behind the Wolf Pack’s creation of the pistol offense after the 2004 season. In Klenakis’ final season at Nevada in 2009, the Wolf Pack led the nation in rushing (344.9 yards a game) was second in total offense (505.6) and sixth in scoring (38.2).
Klenakis, who also led Fallon High to the Northern Nevada high school playoffs in 1989 as head coach, has been an offensive coordinator, operating mainly out of the pistol, at Central Missouri, Southern Miss and Nevada. He has also coached the offensive line at all of his coaching stops.
The Fallon native has always been known for his tireless enthusiasm and never-ending work ethic. He has sent 15 offensive linemen to professional football, including the Wolf Pack’s Deron Thorp, Mike Rockwood, Shahriar Pourdanesh, Tony Moll and Harvey Dahl.
In an interview with Razor Vision Productions just after he arrived at Arkansas, Klenakis talked about his coaching philosophy and influences.
“Each day you have to have a plan,” Klenakis said. “There’s always something to do everyday, something you have to accomplish. Even if you’re on vacation, you can do something simple like write a letter to a recruit. Somehow, some way, your thoughts and your mind has to be always (on coaching).”
When asked what is the one word that best describes him as a coach, he answered quickly, “Focused.”
“I always have a plan for every single day,” Klenakis continued. “I think that you have to get better each and everyday. When you wake up in the morning you have to have a structured plan. What are you going to get done that day and how are you going to get it done? I always tell my players, ‘How are you going to hit a target if you don’t know what you are aiming at?’
“I always tell them, ‘There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Don’t waste any of them.’”
Klenakis also offered his philosophy when recruiting players, especially offensive linemen.
“In addition to their size, the strength, their athleticism and their flexibility, I also look at the intangible,” Klenakis said. “How tough are they, not only physically but mentally? Can they think on the run? You don’t have to be book smart but you have to be reactionary smart. I look for that mental toughness and work ethic and that desire to be great.
“I’ve had a lot of guys who were below average athletes and below. But some of them still went on to the highest level (NFL) because they were so mentally tough. Their desire and work ethic was unbelievable.”
Klenakis played college football at Carroll College in Helena, Mont., under legendary coach Bob Petrino Sr.
“He was the one who influenced me to go into coaching,” Klenakis said. “That’s the one who gave me a lot of inspiration to do this.”
Petrino Sr., who is in the NAIA Hall of Fame, also coached his sons Bobby Jr., and Paul at Carroll. Bobby Petrino Jr., now the head coach at Western Kentucky, was the Wolf Pack’s defensive coordinator under head coach Chris Ault in 1994. Paul Petrino and Klenakis were both on Bobby Petrino Jr.’s staff at Arkansas before Petrino left the program last April.
Paul Petrino is now the head coach at Idaho. Also on that Idaho staff is former Las Vegas High, UNLV and Arkansas coach Kris Cinkovich. Cinkovich, like the Petrinos and Klenakis, is a former Carroll College player.
With all of the turmoil surrounding the Razorbacks’ program this year — former Pack defensive coordinator (1977-81) John L. Smith was the interim head coach — the offense fell to 104th in the nation in rushing at 118.67 yards a game, 89th in scoring (23.5 points) and 51st overall (420.17).