If you thought that UNM was going to name a head coach to replace Rocky Long, who's surprise resignation is still creating a buzz on The Red Menace last week then you thought wrong. The next biggest topic of discussion among the Lobo faithful is, "Who's it gonna be?"
If you thought The Red Menace was not going to be the leader in investigating the new coaching hire, well then you don't know The Red Menace. I spoke to high placed officials at UNM over the past 48 hours. I am not at liberty to say whom I have spoken with but I assure you these people are "in the loop".
I have been able to determine through these contacts that UNM is looking very hard, and, "will leave no stone unturned" as one official told me. One thing is certain this is not going to be knee jerk hire. If AD Paul Krebs is one thing he is thorough. I was told by another person involved in the search "This is not a race to see who can hire a head coach the fastest." The emphasis will be to hire a coach that can do the following.
He MUST be able to recruit, especially in Texas, because after all, to be next to a crazy football playing state that produces D-1 talent like an oil well at full production is an opportunity that cannot be missed.
The next coach at New Mexico must also engage the community,
exciting offense and stout defense, but most of all appreciate all the
that make UNM a desirable, yet tricky job.
Coach Rocky Long
I was also told that Rocky Long would be involved in this decision. This is a great move because it will ease the new head coaches transition and insure that the players are on board and adapting to the new coaches philosophy.
So, who are the candidates? Well, to be honest I did not get a "list" from anyone and I know for sure that there may be some false rumors that UNM will not confirm nor deny, so if this "list" that I have deduced does not meet your idea of what you want, just be patient, the next coach could be someone that none of the people out of the loop can fathom. Just think of Steve Alford, Ray Birmingham, Ty Singleton, Jeff Nelson, Joe Franklin. All new hires made by Paul Krebs as AD. All seem to be working out quite well. So without further delay...here is what I know.
Dan Mullens, OC, Florida. At this point the leading candidate to replace coach Long. Some questions remain as to whether he can recruit Texas, and be a head coach but more on that at another time.
Curtis Luper, RB's Oklahoma State, again no head coaching experience but a known commodity who coached here at UNM. Considered an up and comer and a future head coach whose time may have arrived.
Mike Schultz, Asst Head Coach, OC TCU. I do know for a fact that Mike is very interested in the job. He is known as a relentless recruiter who has ties all over Texas. Recruited LaDanian Tomlinson twice. Once to UNM and the second time to TCU when Franchione bolted UNM after the 19997 season.
My personal favorite to be the next head coach? David Baliff, Head Coach, Rice. David is also a recruiting giant in Texas. He has the Rice Owls 9-3 (only losses this year were on the road to Vanderbilt, TEXAS and Tulsa). He and been a head coach for five years now and I know that he is also looking at UNM. He coached at UNM under Franchione and his wife Angie worked at UNM in admissions. They really enjoyed their time in Albuquerque and I think he meets all the criteria better than any other candidate.
Of coursed I could be wrong. Knowing Paul Krebs like I do, it would not surprise me to see Pete Caroll as the next UNM coach. (I'm kidding don't even start that rumor!)
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