The New Mexico Lobos are now on the unexpected journey of looking for a new basketball head coach, as Steve Alford elected to head to the UCLA Bruins, less than two weeks after agreeing to a 10-year contract with New Mexico. With Alford on the way out, the Lobos have smartly named Craig Neal as the interim head coach as they look for a permanent replacement.
Neal is a great offensive coach and has been with Alford since 2004 when he was at Iowa, and obviously followed him to New Mexico to be the top assistant. At just 49, Neal is at a good age to get his first head coaching job, and a lot of people feel he is ready to take the step to be a Division I college head coach.
Neal was a huge asset in getting New Mexico to be a contender for the Mountain West over the past few years, and has to be the front runner to get the job.
Keeping a guy in house will help keep players to transferring to a minimum, as opposed to bringing in an outsider who has a better resume which includes being a head coach.
The one downfall is the lack of head coaching experience for Neal, and he should be the head coach for New Mexico. Well, unless the Lobos can snag someone who has a better profile with NCAA Tournament success.
Multiple players, and Alford, want Neal to be the head coach:
UNM senior-to-be forward Cameron Bairstow wants Craig Neal as next coach.— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) March 30, 2013
Some players and others within the UNM program I've already spoken w/ this morning really hopeful Assoc. HC Craig Neal gets Lobos job.— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) March 30, 2013
UNM sophomore center Alex Kirk: There is a lot of support for Craig Neal to be next coach.— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) March 30, 2013
Steve #Alford: On Craig Neal... He knows what it's like to walk down the ramp. I heavily endorse him.— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) March 30, 2013