Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Walker introduced.....NMSU hoops

DeWayne Walker will be introduced at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

I am very excited to attend! We will get our first idea of what Walker is all about and what he could possibly bring to the table. My hunch: A very level person, someone who will not be overly flashy. Just a solid coach. Again, this is just his first press conference and much judgment will be reserved for the next nine months and into the season. We shall see. But it's as good a time as any to get things started.


Many thought the search went too long. Maybe an announcement would have been nice a week ago but lets think about the ramifications of rushing.

You pick a coach to aid in the recruiting process, as every day missed hurts. But the more you rush, the more the likelihood exists of making the wrong pick.

McKinley Boston took his time. He targeted who he wanted. And he landed the man he wanted. That wouldn't have been possibly without patience. The negotiation process took some time and ultimately convincing Walker may have taken some time. If he ends up being a good head coach, you won't remember how long the coaching search took three years from now. You'll just be happy.


I will not pile on the men's basketball team.

They lost a tough game to the Lobos, at home, and one that felt like it was their's in the final five minutes. But we move on.

Now, we look to WAC play. Folks, the WAC is unimpressive this year. If the Aggies don't finish top-4 in this conference, it will be considered a major disappointment. I feel like that is even being more lenient than what some others would say. Heck, some others might say top-3 or top-2. But I'm realistic.

This is a team that won a legitimate WAC title two years ago. A team that really, arguably, could have won the WAC last year - but didn't.

Just finish top-4. In a weak conference. I think they should.

Monday, December 29, 2008

DeWayne Walker

I just bumped into DeWayne Walker at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces.

He gave me his cell phone number and told me to call him tomorrow. I asked if he was taking the NMSU coaching job and he just laughed, walked away, and said "I'll talk to you tomorrow."

They're supposed to announce the hire Tuesday morning. Nobody will go on the record with it. I thought I would try to hunt down DeWayne. I did, but he didn't have much to say. At this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he will be the next coach at NMSU. I think most of us have known that for some time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

UNM hoops game

The Lobos are coming to town on Tuesday.

I do think, for Menzies and the Aggies, this could borderline on a must-win game.

I know, people are saying, 'how can it be a must win, it's only December/January, conference hasn't even started?' But you gotta hear it out.

First off, I don't think the fan base is crazy about Menzies right now. It's a fickle business, and people want a win. They want to see the Aggies take their rival by the throat, at home.

If the Aggies handle the Lobos the way they handled UTEP at the Pan Am earlier this year? Passing grade, with flying colors. If they win in a knock down, drag out affair? That's 2-2 against their rivals this year, and the natives are satisfied. A rebuilding year of sorts, in the coach's words and actions no less, and we'll take a 2-2 record. A loss? At home? To a UNM team that is beatable? Some more complaints start rolling in, some more questions are asked and some more confidence from the fan base erodes.


It would be nice to see some fans at the game. Anything less than 8,000 will be very disappointing. Anything at 10,000 or higher would qualify as a success.

I know the numbers might seem a little unrealistic, depending upon your viewpoint, but I think, for a rivalry game on a Tuesday night, a good crowd like this is a requirement in a college town.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Supporting Walker, or any other coach for that matter

It's been a mixed bag for DeWayne Walker, who is believed to be the next coach of the Aggie football team, if all things work out the next couple of days.

I would say that the skepticism over the move compared to the support for Walker is about 60/40, at least it seems that way on the blog.

All I know is that this is a huge hire for NMSU. The football program has been down for so long and many in the fan base do not think that it will ever turn around.

The job is a big challenge. And I feel like the first year will be a major transitional season, no matter who's patrolling the sidelines in 2009. The team wasn't that great to begin with, and many of the good players - Chris Williams, AJ Harris, Chase Holbrook - are gone. The team will have to rebuild a bit, and they would whether a new coach came on board or if it was still Hal Mumme.

But I believe that Walker is a good coach. And if he gets the job, I think he is as good as anyone NMSU could have picked up this offseason.

Whoever it may be - and again, all signs point to Walker at this point - just give him a chance. We know it's going to be tough. But its about inspiring athletes to play solid football and bringing in the talent that can compete with the WAC. It's a new era for NMSU football. Some fans will be skeptical no matter what. But lets try to put a positive spin on this situation. At least for now, you have to have hope.

Walker coming to campus on Monday

A report out of the L.A. Daily News on Friday night/Saturday morning stated that DeWayne Walker will be in Las Cruces on Monday and will take a tour of the NMSU campus. It's believed that Walker is the lead candidate to fill the Aggie football coaching position.

It seemed like Walker was the man for the job when this search got underway to begin with. The real unknown was if he was willing to coach the Aggies. But, it would seem, that he is. And that's a good thing.

The school will make an offer to Walker. If he likes it, the job is his. Take it or leave it. I think he will.....Take it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Walker, Schultz

On that football search.

Walker and Schultz are two finalists. Who's the third? Not sure. But we got two and it comes as no surprise. Maybe even too obvious. I have faith that Walker would be a fine hire. I'm not as confident in Schultz but I hear good things. But what else is out there?

There must be something. The third coach remains a mystery. My true and honest gut feeling today was that it's Walker's or Schultz's job, whoever accepts or whoever backs out. But these searches can change quickly. Walker seems to be the favorite. He almost got hired at San Diego State, could have been hired at UCLA and seems to be someone who will eventually be hired somewhere.

Schultz comes from a great program and has been in the business for some time. He's also familiar with the area. He has ties to New Mexico and El Paso. TCU is a very balanced team. But he has been around that winning culture for some time and hopefully could bring some of it to an Aggie program thirsting for it.

I just want this to come to the forefront soon. I'm tired of waiting for it. Lets see who the next coach is going to be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A little concerned about this one

Lets look at some of the comments made by Marvin Menzies leading up to and following the Aggies' loss to the Lobos on Tuesday night.

Before the game:
On being 0-5 on the road
"I don't think it's a huge deal.....Wins are difficult on the road without a lot of experience and it takes time for kids to grow up and learn from those experiences."

On the UTEP loss
"We were distracted as young kids do and hopefully that lesson will lead us to be more in tune with what we need to do."

On the importance of the game. Note: UNM senior Chad Toppert called the game a must win.
"It's obviously a game you want to win because it means a lot more to the community than beating somebody like Prairie View or Sacramento State. You just hope through preparation and the game plan that you can go in and give a great effort."

Following the UNM game
"You don't want to make excuses but (UNM has) experienced kids that played their role and they did a very good job tonight."

"Seniors make shots and shooters make shots and that's what (UNM) did."

"It's one of those games where you wish you could have a few more possessions back where we really executed badly. We've got to get back to the comforts of home and hopefully we can put out a better product next time."

What are these?

Personally, I am tired of hearing about youth. I know, the team is young. We knew that the first day of practice when Menzies announced it to the world. Do I expect them to go out and win every game? No. Can we have some accountability? That would be nice, yes. Come out and say how important the Lobo game is for your team. Come out and call out a player or two for not hustling to grab a rebound.

When asked about the team being 0-5 on the road (now 0-6 by the way), say that you take the court every time to win the game. No, losing on the road is not acceptable.

Instead, it comes off like it's not a big deal. He said it wasn't a big deal! You say it, your team will play like it. Simple as that.

I feel like Marvin has recruited pretty well to this program. The team is young. We understand it. But it's like Mumme with the injuries. We understand the circumstances, but it isn't a crutch. Don't use it as a crutch. You play to win the game. And losing should not be acceptable.

Monday, December 22, 2008

3 candidates

Who do you think they are?

I would have to think that DeWayne Walker is in the mix. I brought up Walker's name on the phone to McKinley Boston....Silence on the other end. Who knows.

Walker would be a strong candidate, but is this job below him? I don't mean that in a negative way, but seriously. This guy will be a head coach one day. Does he want to start at NMSU with a mediocre salary? I'm not ruling it out, either. Some guys simply want to be head coaches very, very badly. And if he wants it bad enough, he'll take this job. Why not? It's D-I football in a solid mid-major conference. At the end of the day, it comes down to someone's priorities at a particular stage of their career.

Schultz could be in the mix. Luper. Norwood. Kibry Wilson. These names are ridiculous. What about the internal candidates? I got the impression that they are not being considered right now. Again, that's just my sense. Nothing's official with them.

I'm excited but I also want this hire to work out for the program. It will be depressing if the new coach falls on his face. He needs to be given a chance. In my opinion, this team's talent level will be gutted and a makeover will be necessary. But we will see signs early on if the program is moving in the right direction.

First things first though. The hire has to be made.

Hoops at UNM

The Aggie men's basketball team needs to win away from Las Cruces.

Enough of this talk about a young team looking to get better night in and night out. Those facts may be true, very easily so. Regardless, playing well away from your building is important. That's the next step for this team. I will continue to say that the team has been a pleasant surprise. I would give the NMSU hoops team a B grade at this point in the year. They need to keep going in the right direction. A solid road effort at UNM will play to that point.

Uphill battle

When I look at the NMSU football team, I wonder about the coaches that have come and gone, the new one coming in, and what holds the program back.

Do you really think all the coaches in the last 40 to 50 years to grace the Aggie sideline have been bad? Highly unlikely. Can the program win? I would think so, but it hasn't in some time and who knows when it will turn the corner.

Aggie Glare brought forth a good point a couple posts ago. In essence, even if Boston makes a great choice on a new head man, the odds will be stacked against the coach. History indicates this. It will be an uphill battle not only winning here but also turning around a losing culture and a losing tradition that engulfs the team.

NMSU football has some benefits for a new coach who's looking to take over a program. The facilities have been upgraded and there's more to come. The current administration has a vested interest in winning. The WAC is a solid football conference. But there are drawbacks to, possibly the biggest being the fact that the program has been a coaching graveyard for years. No one wants to go to a new situation where they feel like they can't succeed. And there is some of that going on here.

I've said it time and again, the Aggies need to find a special coach to turn things around. Even if they find a special one, there's no guarantee they will be able to do the job.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Spoke with Boston

I spoke with McKinley Boston tonight.

He said that he was encouraged by the interviews and that he felt NMSU had a "fantastic list of candidates."

It jumps out the number of minority candidates there are. Who am I intrigued by?

I've been a big fan of DeWayne Walker throughout the process. I think, though, that he could turn down the job if it's offered. It seems like he can get a coaching job at a bunch of places and might want to remain patient. I would think that he would have to be one of the favorites.

Schultz is getting some positive feedback as well. He's coached at a great program in TCU and understands the region. It seems like he could be ready to take over a team.

One sleeper to me is Curtis Luper. Oklahoma State's offense was high octane this past year and he was an offensive assistant. Just intriguing to me.

I don't really know what to expect from any of these candidates to be perfectly honest. It seems like we're going to get a first-year head coach here and see if he can grow with the program. But I do have a feeling in my gut that the right call is going to be made. That's just a feeling.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NMSU football opening

I spoke with McKinley Boston tonight.

He said that the neither Terry nor Tommy Bowden are candidates to fill the coaching vacancy at NMSU. Both names caused quite a stir and Terry's “no comment” remarks to questions further fueled speculation that he might be interested in the job. Not so, said Boston.

Mike Schultz will be interviewed for the head job. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Texas Christian. Here's the link to Felix's story....

Schultz coaches for a great program in TCU. I still like DeWayne Walker too. Walker still seems to be in the running. He didn't get the nod at San Diego State. I tried calling Walker today at UCLA and the secretary said that he “wasn't in.” In any event, it would be nice getting some comment on him regarding the job.

I still think the Aggies should go with a defensive mind. They're going to lose a lot of offensive players anyway with the departure of Mumme and will have to start from scratch in a lot of respects with a new coach coming in. I'm excited to see who it is but I also know that taking over the NMSU football program is no easy task. It will present its challenges for whoever comes in. They'll have to be the right man for the job.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menzies, Theus

Reggie Theus was fired and Marvin Menzies' stock seems to be on the rise. Wow, things sure can change in a year.

First off, on the Theus firing. The Kings are awful. They will be no better without him. He did a good job getting them 30-something wins last season. I think his ego got in the way a little bit and rubbed some people the wrong way. But they are not a good NBA team. And he will get himself a new job in the near future, whether it be as an assistant in the NBA or a head gig in the college game. I cannot see him returning immediately as an NBA head coach and I don't know if he'll get a primetime college gig right now either. He might have to settle for another NMSU - a mid-major program looking to get a big name hire. We'll see.

As for Menzies, we have to give him some credit here. His team is improving. I don't want to go hog wild just because they beat an overrated UTEP team here on Saturday. If they didn't win that game after the display by the Miners, it would have been discouraging. They go down there this Saturday and that will be another huge test. As will the games vs. the Lobos and conference play. So far though, Menzies seems to be earning the admiration of the fans.

Lets go through some of the players he has brought in since he came on board. Wendell McKines is playing great basketball. The two centers, the jury is still out. They're both 7 feet and hopefully can develop there games in the coming years. Hernst Laroche has been steady. Gillenwater seems to have talent.

Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson, the team's two go-to scorers, are not Menzies guys. Still, he has guided Jahmar through up and down times in the young player's college career. I think he gets frustrated with Jonathan's play here and there. Jonathan is a tantalizing player, who can make you yell, shake your head and cheer, all in the same play. He's wild.

The bottom line is that Menzies' stock is on the rise. While it is positive thus far, I would guard against getting too ahead of ourselves. It was one win over a rival. Lets hold all reservations until after the Lobo games. We gotta see how things unravel over the long haul.

As for Theus, again, the Kings are terrible. He didn't do a poor job in Sacramento. One thing for certain is that NBA teams love firing coaches.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Win over UTEP

There were a few things that stood out to me in regard to the NMSU win over UTEP on Saturday.

For one, the Aggies hammered the Miners. UTEP jumped out to a 9-4 lead, and that was about all it got. NMSU took control, went on a 15-3 run and didn't look back.

The Miners never made a run. They fell behind and I kept waiting for them to make a push. With about 10 minutes remaining I began writing my story. The game was over. At that point it was apparent they wouldn't come back.

While I thought the Aggies played a good game, I also thought the Miners were awful. Their offense was unwatchable at times. Some of it was due to the zone the Aggies played but UTEP was sluggish. NMSU just ran by 'em.

It was a good win for the Aggies. They needed this one more than they led on. I didn't know what to expect as far as the outcome was concerned but I knew I would learn a lot about NMSU. I learned that they have some talent and that they can play a good game on their homecourt against their rival. Saturday is going to be another huge test. A sweep over the Miners would send a message to the region.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

NMSU men's hoops

Sunday will be a good test for the Aggie basketball team.

I felt like the team has had two legitimate tests all year. At Long Beach and at North Texas. Both games, they lost in the closing seconds.

Sunday's contest will be against their rivals and UTEP could have a slightly better team. Still, not by much, and NMSU gets them at the Pan American Center. I expect to see a competitive game and if the Aggies can win, it would be a nice feather in their cap.

What does NMSU need? Strong performances from its starting five, particularly Jonathan Gibson, Jahmar Young, Troy Gillenwater and Wendell McKines. These four consistently carry the team and they will have to be at it again.

We know what we're going to get out of Wendell. Probably a double-double and a workman-like performance no matter what. Jahmar too. He's been a money scorer for the Aggies and I expect him to rise to the occasion once again against the Miners. He seems to like the spotlight.

Troy has been solid. We will learn more about him on Sunday. As for Jonathan, he's the wild card. He can be a very effective player, but sometimes he gets carried away. He will take some crazy shots - early in the shot clock, no real regard for anything else on the court. When they go in, it's great. When they don't, it's incredibly frustrating. He needs to hit them Sunday.

I am looking forward to the game a lot. It will be a good test for the team and its a rivalry match. Doesn't get much better.

Friday, December 12, 2008

DeWayne Walker and the other candidates

The names of coaches out there that have an opportunity to be the next coach of the Aggies, I feel like their is more than what meets the eye.

What I'm saying is that there are other names that have not been brought to the forefront. I would not believe that the names you have heard are the only ones in the equation. There are more.

Some are certainly viable. I think Kirby Wilson and Jay Norvell are possibilities. DeWayne Walker? I like Walker a lot. In fact, I think he's more likely to land at a better program than NMSU. He could have been UCLA's coach before Neuheisel grabbed it. I don't see him ending up on the Aggie sidelines.

I also think McKinley Boston is farther along in the process than he is leading on. I believe they have narrowed a list down and are either close to second interviews or are already conducting them. Don't be shocked to see a surprise or two as this thing comes down the wire.

I believe Johnson is legitimately in the mix

So, I had a conversation last night with someone about the NMSU football search.

And we were talking about Charley Johnson. Prior to this conversation, I didn't think NMSU could conceivably hire Johnson as the next head coach. After the talk, it made perfect sense.

First off, I remain with the belief that the Aggies are going to go outside the program. It seems like that's McKinley Boston by nature. But what if they elect not to?

Johnson seems like someone who the program would consider turning too. First off, he's a figure that could generate money for the cause. People respect and admire Charley in the community.

Second, is that the team already has two coaches in place that they could plug in. That is, Joe Lee Dunn as defensive coordinator and Earnest Wilson as offensive coordinator. Bingo! This would be a major money saving move as well.

And lastly, Charley seems to be on the same page as just about everybody on the search committee. And that doesn't hurt either.

I, for one, would not want NMSU to go down this route. But it's not too far-fetched of an idea. One which I thought was not too long ago.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can the school ever be a winner?; Hoops at home for Saramento

Many ask the question: Can the NMSU football program ever become a winner?

I think it's difficult. The track record is not favorable. The years have been frustrating. I've heard some say that the ceiling is a six or seven win season once in a blue moon. Other than that, you'll tread water with three or four W's.

Judging from the last 40 to 50 years, history suggests that NMSU cannot compete. I actually disagree. The fan base is down, but Las Cruces is the type of town where people will show up if the team gets some wins. I think of the last home game against Louisiana Tech last year. There were promotions for ticket sales and the team needed a good showing to hit attendance bench marks. But still, people came. And the game meant nothing for the Aggies, with the exception of pride and the role of spoiler. If the community got a team that won football games, 20,000 fans would show up to a game, I have not doubt.

The other question is talent. Can you recruit to NMSU. Mumme recruited to his offense. Obviously, he didn't recruit to his defense. But the best tool for recruiting? It's winning. The team hasn't done a whole lot of that lately, but that's really what it comes down to. Kids will go to a winning team. It solves a lot of problems.

I don't know how talented this current team is. The new coach is going to have to come in with the cupboard somewhat bare. That's the key. Can you win in your first few years when the team has low talent level? If you can hover around .500, show some spunk, win 5, 6, 7 games in your first few years, you can get kids to come. I think facilities, scoreboards, super locker rooms, there nice luxuries but they can also be overrated. The best luxury is success in between the lines. That's what the program needs. A coach that gets the players to believe and wins football games. It doesn't have to be pretty. It doesn't have to make the highlight reels at first. It just needs to be successful. They need a special person in charge.


The NMSU basketball team hosts Sacramento State tonight. This is an awful game.

I don't like games where you go, watch a team and learn nothing. The only way we will learn something about the Aggies tonight is if they struggle against the Hornets. We will learn that they are in trouble.

They should pummel Sacramento with little or no trouble. But Sunday's game? That I'm excited for. Hosting UTEP. That should tell us a lot about the NMSU hoops team. I still can't get a reading on this team. But if they can beat the Miners, I will be feeling good about what's going on. I think most people would.....

DeWayne Walker and SDSU

DeWayne Walker is in the running for the head coaching job at San Diego State. Walker interviewed for the NMSU job and seemed to be a strong candidate. Either way, it's not a matter of if, simply when for Walker in terms of being a head coach on the collegiate level. Here's the story from the L.A. Times.....,0,803585.story

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Minority candidate; Fanoga going to Wyoming

By looking at the list of possibilities for the head football coaching job at NMSU, it appears as if the school is leaning toward hiring a minority candidate.

This is something that I see as a major positive for the program. There are not enough black head coaches in college football, check that, in all of sports actually. The reality is that many are just as qualified, if not more so than there counterparts and are fabulous coaches/recruiters in the college game.

It will also differentiate NMSU from its competitors. If the Aggies do hire a minority, the UNM versus NMSU game next season would get some national pub. Two black head coaches on opposite sidelines? It hasn't happened very much.

We'll see what happens when it's all said and done but, as of now, my gut tells me the Aggies will go in this direction.


The loss of Mike Fanoga will be felt, to a degree.

Mike was a pipeline to Hawaii players, something that does have value in today's college game. One could argue that many of NMSU's Polynesian players didn't make much of an impact anyway. La'Auli Fonoti, Sioeli Fakalata and Raymond Manumaleuna all looked like real-deal football players, but were all inconsistent during their NMSU careers.

Regardless, grabbing players from the Central Pacific is a nice luxury and Fanoga did just that. He was always a Hal guy — he coached with Mumme throughout their coaching odyssey. But he will go to Wyoming and bring in some players to that program. The Polynesian players at NMSU always had great respect and admiration for Mike.

Mike Fanoga

NMSU defensive line coach Mike Fanoga is headed to Wyoming.

Felix wrote a column about the coaching search as well. Here's both of the stories....

A couple new names to consider

Felix got word that former Auburn coach Terry Bowden along with former Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons are on NMSU's radar.

Neither have been contacted by NMSU for an interview but both are intriguing names with head coaching experience.

On a side note, apparently DeWayne Walker is getting serious consideration for the San Diego State coaching job. He looks to be a hot commodity.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mike Locksley

The University of New Mexico hired Mike Locksley as its new head football coach.

The school seems to have found an exiting, innovative coach. Locksley comes equipped as a great recruiter and a fine offensive mind. UNM needed both. The Lobos talked about wanting to find a new leader with a strong presence on the offensive side of the ball and it seems like Locksley fits the bill.

I just wonder about the expectations on UNM football. Will Locksley do more with the program than Rocky Long did? I know many would prefer to differ on this one, but I always thought that Long's Lobo teams played the game the right way and, for the most part, overachieved. He took the program to a number of bowl games and the team was always well prepared and solid defensively. Even this year, in a transitional season and with their starting quarterback hurt, the Lobos battled and competed more often than not.

Now Locksley comes in with the expectations that he can do more. One of the knocks on Long was that while he got average talent to over-perform, he struggled bringing elite talent in Albuquerque. Locksley comes with the reputation that he can in fact bring in some standout ball players into Lobo land. Will he be able to take the program to the next level? Easier said than done.

Will a good coach leave?

Something that's very tough to swallow is that a good coach that has any type of success at NMSU would probably leave in a matter of years anyway.

Someone mentioned this about DeWayne Walker - how if he were to be hired, he would probably leave after a couple solid seasons for greener pastures.

I'm not trying to single Walker out and say this to be true or not, it's just a fact of life in the world of sports. If Mumme took NMSU to a bowl game or two, I'm sure he would have entertained some offers.

The reality is that if NMSU hires an up-and-comer in the business, more likely than not, the Aggies are a stepping-stone program for them.

This is one of the hurdles, I'm sure, of hiring at a school like NMSU, i.e. a mid-major program, searching for an identity on the football field. If a coach is successful, chances are high he or she will leave. If a coach doesn't get wins, like Mumme, you're forced to get rid of them.

I don't want to put the cart before the horse on this one. Forget a good coach leaving, the Aggies need to find a good coach for one, and then two, have that good coach turn the team into a winner. But it would really be terrific if they could find that good coach and have him not only be a good coach here, but stay here to. Maybe it will happen. It just seems unlikely.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

LaVorick Williams

Someone on the blog posted that NMSU wide receiver LaVorick Williams was looking to possibly transfer. We did some digging today and here's what we came up with.....

Williams was just a freshman last year but saw a decent amount of snaps and showed flashes of being a difference maker. If he does leave, I think it would be a big loss. I was looking forward to seeing him play in the future.

Again, nothing is guaranteed at this point and it appears that he wants to see who the next coach is before he jumps to any conclusions. Still, something to keep an eye on as the coaching saga unfolds.

Friday, December 5, 2008

New football name to look out for; volleyball team; NMSU hoops

So Jay Norvell's name has surfaced as a candidate for the NMSU coaching position. Don't know how seriously to take this or not but it is someone to keep an eye on. Norvell is currently an offensive assistant coach at Oklahoma, a team which had a potent offense this past season.


The Aggie volleyball team advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. This really is a great story. People talk about wanting successful Aggie teams. This is a successful Aggie team! I know, it doesn't have the luster of a football or a basketball. But we're talking about a top 25 program that is playing for something big. I'll be the first to admit it, I don't see the volleyball team winning an NCAA title but if they win on Saturday, they are in the Sweet 16. That is incredible to me.

Mike Jordan's club was 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament lifetime going into Friday's match. They got the monkey off their back though. The team's a winner.


Basketball team is in Denton Saturday night to face North Texas. I know it's early but I think this is a big game for Aggie hoops.

Hear me out on this one. They played well in Long Beach, but lost. They were beaten soundly by Kansas, although we won't say they played that bad in Lawrence. Kansas is Kansas and NMSU made it a game for about 30 minutes or so.

But they stand at 2-3. They're 0-2 on the road trip. A win over the Mean Green will get them back to .500 and give them a 1-2 mark on the trip. That is acceptable to me. 0-3 on the trip though? Not so much. They gotta win one away from their building. They were close against Long Beach, but they still fell short.

The Aggies have shown some spunk to me on the basketball court early in the season. If they win Saturday, I remain optimistic. If they lose, I'll be a little down. It's hard to get a reading on this team out of the gate. Every time they take the court, we learn a little bit more. A win on Saturday would be a positive.


Disappointing news

Tried calling the USC football office this morning for Norton without any luck. Here's an article from the L.A. Daily News saying that he's not interested in the position, according to sources.....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Does having a coordinator hurt a new coach?

My question is simple: Does having a defensive coordinator in place, in this case being Joe Lee Dunn, effect the hiring process in trying to bring in a new coach?

I suppose a new coach could just get rid of an assistant or two and bring in his own guy if he didn't want them there. But at the same time, Dunn is under contract and the NMSU brass would rather have him here than pay him for doing virtually nothing.

Dunn is going to be on the road this weekend recruiting so he is going about the situation business as usual. I think most coaches want their own staff in place and don't want to inherit anybody. Particularly if that coach is a Norton Jr. or a Walker, i.e. defensive guys who want to carve their own path. They would be more likely to bring in their own defensive coordinator than rely on Dunn.

Dunn did a good job last season without much help. Him and his staff coming on board was one of the few bright spots for the team. When NMSU brought him in last year I thought of this dilemma. ‘This guys is coming here because of Mumme. What if Mumme loses his job next year. That would suck for Dunn.’ Well, we're here. Joe Lee is in place for now. We'll see next month if he's still around or out.

As for Earnest Wilson, I think his standing is a bit more secure. For one, he was the recruiting coordinator and understands the kids in the program as well as the fabric of the community. He was also on the offensive side and I would think an offensive coach, in this case, would be easier to hold onto than a defensive one. McKinley Boston indicated that he wanted to keep some sort of continuity on offense, at least systematically speaking. Wilson is familiar with what the Aggies were doing. And, he was a good coach and a good man.

Lets hope it works out for both of these coaches, whatever might happen. They deserve it.

Here's the link...

Norton Jr., Walker, Ted Gilmore

A source close to the NMSU football program told Felix that Ken Norton Jr. and DeWayne Walker have interviewed for the head coaching position at NMSU.

The source also said that Nebraska receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Ted Gilmore was in the mix for the position as well. Kirby Wilson is still out there also.

I can't help but get excited about Norton's name. First off, he's not a retread and he also brings a certain "star" quality to the table that would create a buzz.

Walker seems like a very solid candidate. He was in the mix for the UCLA job last year.

Interesting enough, both guys are defensive coaches. McKinley Boston indicated that he would prefer an offensive mind to lead the team. For me, I already said that I could care less who's in charge. Just make sure he's a good coach that can inspire and get things moving forward.

There are other candidates out there too who's names haven't surfaced at this point. But I'm excited by this group. I know the fans want Norton in there. He brings the firepower and name recognition. I think Walker and Wilson are also solid coaches. Joe Lee Dunn and Earnest Wilson, I believe they could do the job. But I believe Boston is going to go outside the program. He's looking for fresh blood and to make a splash. Very interesting......

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wilson, Norton

Kirby Wilson was a finalist for the job when Mumme got hired in the first place. People can criticize NFL retreads but I think a coach can coach. Lets not compare the Widenhofer situation to this one, Woody was playing with half a deck when he was the D-coordinator at NMSU.

As for Ken Norton Jr., I called the USC football offices today and left a message on his voicemail. If Ken Norton Jr. is hired as the next coach of the Aggies, it would be awesome. I just think of him using the goal post as a punching bag after he scored a TD.

Either way, I think both of these coaches will be seriously considered. Which I find exciting.

What does NMSU need?

I do not think the Aggies need a coach with similar offensive philosophies as Hal Mumme, something that seems to be a priority for the search committee at NMSU.

The concern is that a change in system would lead to another rebuilding situation within the program, something the school or the team needs at this point. And I do not dispute that claim at all.

I just think that you win football games with a priority on the defensive side of the ball and being an effective rushing team. This isn't the prettiest football and it does not work in all cases. It's not as glamourous as the spread offense, either. But it seems to be a good formula.

Louisiana Tech and San Jose State rely on it and they're both good teams in the WAC. Fresno plays a run-first, muck-it-up style. Nevada keeps it on the ground. Even Boise, with all their bells and whistles, play off their ground game - and who wouldn't with Ian Johnson and Jeremy Avery?

One reason I liked the spread and Mumme's system is that it made the Aggies unique in a sense. It also didn't win many games. We'll see what the new coach believes in and where his priorities are. Lets just hope he has an eye on the defensive side of the ball, special teams and doesn't abandon the ground game. You need these elements to win.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How big of a hire is this for McKinley Boston

NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston has taken some heat in recent months for his handling of the Hal Mumme situation.

Granted, Mumme's status in his final weeks at NMSU was tenuous at best and it was obvious he was a lame duck coach for the stretch run of the team's schedule.

A good deal of the burden fell on Boston, as it should. He is the AD of the school and hired Mumme to be the face of the football program. This is a bottom line and pressure packed business and pressure is felt on everyone when the standards of the fan base and community are not met.

Lets look at some of the things Boston has done in his tenure at NMSU, which started four years ago:

- He hired Mumme
- He hired Reggie Theus
- He hired Marvin Menzies
- He oversaw massive expansion of facilities on the NMSU campus.
- He brought in a handful of WAC tournaments, including the basketball tournament the last two years. The Aggies went to the NCAA tourney one of those seasons and went to the tournament finals the other.
- He has been the guiding hand as the school has transitioned to the WAC

These are just some of his accomplishments and I'm sure I'm leaving out some as well. The bottom line is that the Mumme situation did not work out. Hal didn't win enough games and alienated the community in the process.

Theus was gold but then he bolted. I was very hard on Menzies upon the coach's arrival at the school last year but have been pleased with what I've seen/heard about regarding the hoops team this season. Still, I believe the jury is still out on Marvin as the year is young.

Can't fault Boston for the expansion of the facilities, nor the oversight of the WAC tournaments.

And while Mumme didn't work out, not everyone is perfect. Boston said today during the press conference announcing the coach's dismissal that hiring coaches, recruiting players and winning ballgames is not an exact science. Sometimes, these things don't work out.

I would have to say that Boston will need to hire a good football coach because Las Cruces needs a winner on the field. It's time for the bowl drought/laughing stock program talk comes to an end, or at least subsides. As for his job, of course he needs to find a good coach to relieve some of the pressure. He wouldn't be the AD at a Division-I school if that weren't the case. But the coach will get some years to pan out. Keep an eye on the hoops team under Menzies. He's truly Boston's guy and the program seems to be off on the right foot early on this year. If they do flounder and the football team does not turn it around, the complaints about the AD become increasingly legitimate. Until then, give it a chance and let things unfold in a timely manner.

Monday, December 1, 2008

It might as well be official

New Mexico State will hold a press conference on Tuesday morning announcing the dismissal of head coach Hal Mumme from the football program.

Anyone who sees this as a surprise needs to see a doctor. This has been speculated to the point of no return and really was just a question of not if, but when.

NMSU will now conduct a coaching search, where a replacement will be found. What does the program need in order to rebound?

A coach who will instill toughness is one thing. Honestly, a lot of games the Aggies played under Mumme, it seemed like the team was close to getting over the hump. Critical mistakes at crucial junctures of games often undid the Aggies. The team seemed to be mentally weak a lot of times and finding a coach who will make them a tough-nosed football team would be a good start.

Unfortunately, Mumme's system on offense was very specific and required certain players to fit his particular mold. It's tough to really know what the team had talent-wise and what was done with smoke and mirrors. The receiver position was horribly over recruited, for instance, while the defensive backfield was often a patchwork operation on a week to week basis. Same with offensive and defensive line. The offensive line shuffled people in and out of the lineup on a weekly basis while the D-line was forced to pick up the scraps left behind. There was talent on the team but how it was distributed left much to be debated. Who knows how a new coach would handle such a dilemma.

One thing I can confidently say is that a new coach means building a new program. It's not such an easy solution as, say, fire a coach, hire a new one, and watch the wins pile up. The reality is that NMSU has been trying to find the right formula for success for some time now. The hope is that a new coach is brought in with tremendous leadership skills, can inspire, motivate and, ultimately, change the losing culture surrounding the team. It is not an easy task what-so-ever. But it is not impossible either.

Utah State

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the Aggies season finale at Utah State, but I was.

The team lost 47-2. I would almost them rather not have gotten the safety because that score is so ridiculous. I mean, it just looks like they packed it in. It's for reasons like this that coaches lose their jobs. I cannot believe NMSU lost at both Idaho and Utah State this year. For a team that was playing for their coach's future, that final score is all you need to know.

Mumme's postgame rant on the radio about nobody being on campus throughout the Thanksgiving week and his players hearing about all this stuff regarding his future as being distracting was just as bad. Where is the accountability? I would rather have a coach come out and say that the team was terrible and put the blame on his shoulders. There was none of that. Just excuses. He's not that kind of guy, I get it, but it doesn't look good when you get beat 47-2, immediately go on the radio, and don't shoulder responsibility. You gotta do that as the leader of the football team.

I don't think the situation at NMSU has been handled well this season. Everyone knew that Mumme was a lame duck coach and it played out for the second half of the season all the way until now. It was truly a soap opera surrounding the NMSU football team this year during conference play. I do feel for the players. They have absolutely no control over the Mumme situation but the team was effected by the events. How could they not be? Again, they lost to Utah State 47-2. Talk about a depressing way to go out.

So, where does the program go from here. I really believe Hal will be gone, but the events have dragged out for so long, I'm beginning to be skeptical. I think an announcement will be made sometime this week, as early as Monday. They will search for a new coach and eventually hire one. Will the change be better off? I do think it's time for Mumme to go, but a new coach won't miraculously turn the team around overnight. There is still a lot of building to be done.

Mumme was very loose, very laid back coach. I think the best fit will be someone who is tough, someone who will lay down ground rules and hold people accountable. The team has been soft in recent years, from the pass-happy offense to the flimsy defense. Toughness needs to be instilled. It's still hard to rap your arms around with NMSU under Mumme. They almost beat Louisiana Tech in LC, then they go out and lose to Utah State. Again, they lost 47-2. It's inconsistency like that that will drive you mad.