Jim Hofher saw something special in Brian Polian a dozen years ago.
"He was a guy who really stood out as a young coach," said Hofher, now the Nevada Wolf Pack's assistant head football coach under Polian.
Hofher, entering his first season as head coach at Buffalo, gave Polian his first full-time coaching job in 2001. Polian stayed with Hofher for three seasons (2001-03) as special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
"From a very young age you could see that he was fully invested in gaining knowledge of special teams play," the 55-year-old Hofher said. "He was genuinely enthusiastic about special teams play and you don't always find that with young coaches."
Polian was just the type of young, enthusiastic coach Hofher was looking for to build his staff at Buffalo. Hofher had previously been the head coach at Cornell (1990-97).
"It was a leap of faith on my part at the time," Hofher said. "He was just a young guy looking for his first full-time job. But I could see the love and passion he had for special teams coaching, That struck me right away."
The two had not coached together since 2003 before Polian called Hofher after becoming the Pack's head coach in the middle of January.
"Jim Hofher has a wealth of offensive knowledge," Polian said. "He gave me my first full-time job. I always knew if I ever had a chance to build my own staff, he was a guy I wanted with us. His experience and his knowledge will be a great resource for me."
Hofher has had many stops along his coaching career. He's also been a quarterbacks coach at Deleaware (2009-12), Bowling Green, Tennessee, North Carolina and Syracuse.
Polian and Hofher weren't all that successful at Buffalo. The Bulls were just 5-30 in their three seasons together, including 1-11 in 2002 and 2003. Hofher also brought his Bulls to Mackay Stadium on Sept. 18, 2004 in the third game of Chris Ault's third tenure as Pack head coach.
The Wolf Pack whipped the Bulls 38-13 that day.
"To be honest, I looked in the back of the (Nevada) media guide the other day to see the score of that game," smiled Hofher. "My memory of it was that we got walloped a lot worse than that. That's how it felt."
Hofher and Polian always talked about the day they could coach together.
"As Brian has moved through his career, it was always in the back of our minds but we never had any serious discussions," Hofher. "But as it became apparent that he was going to become a head coach someday, we talked about it a little more."
Hofher said it won't be a problem for him to work under Polian, who is 17 years his junior.
"It won't be awkward at all," Hofher said. "The way I've always looked at it, we're all just coaches with a job to do. When he was my assistant, it was the same way. This is really no different."
Hofher has no doubt that Polian will be successful at Nevada.
"He's very intelligent and articulate," Hofher said. "He also has a great energy for the job, something he's always had. He's also tireless in his work."