UNLV assistant Hundley ready for showdown with son's alma mater

2013-09-05T00:00:00Z UNLV assistant Hundley ready for showdown with son's alma materBy Daniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Tim Hundley has coached at 11 schools over 40 seasons.

He has dealt with the Las Vegas heat, the Colorado winters, the Washington rain and the Idaho snow.

He has coached at four Pac-12 schools — UCLA, Oregon State, Colorado and Washington — and knows every back road and gas station on the West Coast.

Tucson is one stop Hundley, now the safeties coach at UNLV, has never made during his coaching career. But it may be closer to his heart than any other place he’s ever been.

He owns a home in Oro Valley, has been to more than 60 Arizona Wildcats baseball games and made the trek to Omaha, Neb., when the UA qualified for the 2004 College World Series.

Is the last name “Hundley” sounding any more familiar now?

The coaching veteran is the proud father of former UA All-America catcher Nick Hundley.

“From a family standpoint, we love the University of Arizona and all the things it has done for Nick,” Hundley said this week.

Now, as has happened several times, it’s Nick versus Tim — sort of.

Dad will look to help the Rebels knock off his son’s alma mater Saturday in Las Vegas.

“When we used to go up against them, he was comfortable with us winning and disappointed when he lost,” Tim said. “Blood is thicker than water.”

So, does that mean Nick, now the starting catcher for the San Diego Padres, will be rooting against his Wildcats this weekend?

“I’ll let you decide that one,” Tim joked.

Tim began his coaching career in 1974 as a defensive graduate assistant at Western Oregon State. Then defensive coordinator Greg McMackin, who got his start in coaching in 1968 as a graduate assistant at the UA, gave Hundley his first job.

After stops at Clackamas (Ore.), Community College, Idaho and Nevada, Hundley worked at Oregon State from 1982 to 1989. He then coached at UCLA for six seasons before hooking up with Rick Neuheisel for stops at Colorado and Washington.

He also coached at UTEP, SMU and UCLA again before Bobby Hauck hired him at UNLV last season.

“When I began coaching, I hoped I would get players to the highest level,” Hundley said. “That’s what we talk about the whole time.”

And even if it wasn’t in the sport he coaches or by intention, he also helped his son reach the highest level.

Nick is in his sixth season with the Padres and, statistically, is having the best season of his career. The two talk every day before Nick’s game, and Tim records every Padres game and watches Nick’s at-bats when he gets home from football practice.

“You want good things to happen to good people, and the Hundleys are good people,” UA baseball coach Andy Lopez said. “I got to know Tim pretty well through the recruiting process. Him and his wife are unbelievably good parents.

“Nick was an unbelievable leader, and you need that from the catcher position. He took charge and did a marvelous job.”

The daily conversations Tim and Nick have are just as much about baseball as they are about life.

Mostly, Tim has just tried to enjoy his son’s journey from Tucson to San Diego.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Tim said. “We’ve had some great conversations about the length and toughness it takes to play a full professional baseball season. Counting spring training, these guys play 201 games. It takes a guy with a lot of commitment to be able to do that. Pam (Tim’s wife and Nick’s mom) tapes the good parts of the game, and we sit and visit and watch when I can’t watch the whole game.

“It’s really been a neat deal.”

Ask Tim, and one of the major reasons Nick is where he is now is because of Lopez. As a coach, Tim knew the type of leader he wanted his son to play for in college, and Lopez possessed everything he was looking for.

“Andy and his staff were new at the time, and they were really good for Nick,” Tim said. “He had a tremendous freshman season and then his sophomore season, he did not do the things necessary to get to the highest level and didn’t play a lot at the beginning of the season. If you’re a champion, you take it as a challenge and have to do things a whole lot better. To me, that got him started as a guy that has been able to be a professional.

“I just appreciate Andy and the way he did business.”

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at 573-4330 or dberk@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @DSBerk.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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