Alright, we are more or less at the halfway point of the 2023 roundtable. And with that, it is time to bring out one of our most popular questions that is sure to become of one our more critiqued posts of the summer. Which coach will be entering the season on the hot seat for the 2023 season? Or if you don’t see anyone getting fired, which coach has the most to prove this year?
Mike: In last year’s post, we took some unnecessary criticism after a beat writer misinterpreted our post in his headline where two writers mentioned the coach of a certain team having a warm or uncomfortable seat. With that being said, Marcus Arroyo was the consensus choice that year, and that ended up proving to be true by the end of the football season.
With that being said, this year Danny Gonzales’ seat should feel quite warm. He’s had a lot working against him that is out of his control, most notably losing talent to the transfer portal after giving players a chance and developing them. He’s had to switch up his recruiting philosophy and replace both coordinators this year in an attempt to get something going. I truly do want to see Gonzales succeed and build something stable in Albuquerque like Brent Brennan has done at San Jose State, but I’m guessing under four wins in year four makes it unlikely he sees a year five.
Matt: There’s Danny Gonzales, and that’s pretty much it. Brennan and Bohl might have warm seats, but everyone else is either too new, or has achieved enough success to keep their seats cold. I honestly thought that Gonzales would be the firing last year instead of Arroyo, especially after UNLV surged to 5-7 and almost made a bowl game. A 7-24 record definitely does not bode well for his future, and this year has to be a success for UNM. Getting to at least 5-7 with clear signs of improvement has to be the baseline to hold onto the job, but he might need a bowl game to keep himself employed.
Adam: Last year, I thought that there was no way Danny Gonzales was on the hot seat. His seat might be a little warmer this time around, and for good reason. I gave Gonzales and company a throwaway on their first season because, let’s face it, it was the COVID-19 season, and the Lobos were playing in Las Vegas, not even in the same state. UNM had won their last two games and appeared headed in the right direction. Then 2021 and 2022 came about, and the offense was abysmal. In 2021, UNM only scored more than 17 points just twice. In 2022, they only did it twice again. Halfway through the 2022 season Gonzales fired his offensive coordinator, Derek Warehime. The offense still sputtered after his dismissal, to the tune of just 41 points combined over their final six contests.
The Lobos have to get things turned around on offense in order to be successful. Gonzales has brought in Bryant Vincent to run the offense. Vincent’s up-tempo offense averaged 36.5 points per game at UAB last season. Vincent has also brought along Dylan Hopkins from UAB to run the offense at quarterback. New Mexico also has a new defensive coordinator in Troy Reffett. He replaces UNM legend Rocky Long who took the same spot at Syracuse.
We have been down this road before in Albuquerque, however. In 2019, Bob Davie replaced coordinators looking for a spark, and it equated to a 2-10 overall record and the resignation of Davie at the season’s end. I’m not saying that the same thing will occur here, but it has the same win or else feeling heading into the 2023 season.
Jack: Obviously, Danny Gonzales is the first name to come to mind, so let’s take another route. Ken Wilson started his head coaching career 2-0, but the Wolfpack dropped their final ten games of the year. He’s bringing in some transfer help for the offense (Colorado QB Brendon Lewis, Oregon RB Sean Dollars), but there are depth issues across the board. The defense has pieces, namely DT James Hansen and LB Drue Watts, but they struggled mightily last year overall. If the right (or wrong) dominos fall, like if they start around 1-8 and the longtime PAC-12 LB coach sees his defense severely underperform, it’s possible he gets canned. To be noted, Nevada has given every head coach in their history at least four years, so this would be out of character, but crazier things have happened in college football.
Dom: It’s going to sound like a broken record, but Danny Gonzales’ seat is heating up by the minute. While his playing history with the Lobos might save him some time, he’s going to need massive improvement in 2023. The offense last year was not good, and banking on QB Dylan Hopkins to win the starting job is the Lobos only hope. Sure, Gonzales hasn’t had the most talented teams in his four years. The reality is he’s still only 7-24 in the past three seasons with little to no improvement each year. I would say at least five wins would keep him around for another year, but Gonzales needs a bowl game to give himself some added insurance.