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As the Lobo Turns…

The University of New Mexico isn’t done with men’s hoops coach Richie McKay’s story yet. It’s been announced that he’ll be leaving the university at the end of this season (most likely when the Lobos lose the play-in game for the Mountain West Tournament). Now it is time for the speculation to begin. Which major coaches will be willing to leave their programs to coach at UNM?

Will it be Coach K?

What about Bobby Knight?

I hear that Mike Montgomery is available. But he’s probably not interested in coming to UNM since he’s friends with McKay.

McKay finally ran out of chances in Albuquerque. His temper tantrums at press conferences and his poor record combined finally wore thin.

What went wrong?

Coach Richie McKay came to the University of New Mexico at a fragile time in Lobo Men’s Basketball. The program had just parted ways with Fran Fraschilla, a petty man who was more bully than coach. UNM was looking for someone to be the anti-Fran. Someone with a stronger moral fiber. This was roughly the same time that Baylor had to deal with two players being killed under Dave Bliss’ watch. The same Dave Bliss who then tried to cover it up with lies that one of the players was a drug dealer. (This was the same Dave Bliss, and one of the same players, who went to Baylor from UNM). This left another indirect stain on the UNM program.

So UNM was desperate to have a coach with a positive image. And in stepped Richie McKay. A pious Christian who was full of prayer and claims of wanting to teach the best to his players. McKay said the right things, that he was just happy to be at UNM, he had memories of his father playing for UNM and it was the job of his dreams. I touched on this before in an earlier post, that at UNM we are so desperate to be loved that we’ll pick the lesser of two candidates if they just say they dreamed about coaching here.

The problem, McKay had a track record of leaving teams only after a couple of years of mediocre play. The bet around town was that he’d only last two years at New Mexico before leaving for his next “dream job”. To his credit, McKay stayed at New Mexico for five years, including receiving a contract extension last year.

But McKay wasn’t producing the results that Lobo fans wanted. For a long time basketball was the only sport the University of New Mexico could get behind (the football program has filled the void of many sports fans) and after years of mediocre play, and one NCAA appearance in that time, the fans finally had their fill of McKay’s false piety (which is another post in itself) and players coming into the program, spending a year and being run out by McKay (or just leaving).

So now the question to be asked is, who is interested in coming in and being the anti-McKay?

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