Lobos fans already picking their favorite coaches

April 5, 2017 GMT

In the game of hiring a men’s head basketball coach at The University of New Mexico, singles and doubles need not apply.

UNM athletic director Paul Krebs has to swing for the fences, because fans will pay for a home-run hire. They might open up their wallets for a triple, but they’ll hold onto their hard-earned money for anything less.

Truth be told, the program needs a dynamic hire if it expects to make up for lost revenue. Given the state’s financial climate, people are going to be stingy with their money, and they want to be entertained. Oh, and win at the same time.

While that might sound simple, the rub in this courtship of coach and fan base is that the fans want that perfect coach — the one who is charming, suave and exciting, but can also give them what they want and more.

If you follow the message boards and social media, it’s clear Lobos fans know what their hearts desire.


They get giddy over Mark Gottfried, who got Alabama and North Carolina State to the second Saturday of the NCAA Tournament.

They have a crush on Tom Crean, who led Indiana to three Sweet 16 appearances and got Marquette to a Final Four with Dwyane Wade as his spirit guide. It doesn’t matter that both were fired this year for failing to live up to their school’s expectations. Fans here love reclamation projects.

Yet, their taste doesn’t end with fallen stars.

Some fans wouldn’t mind a fling with East Tennessee State’s Steve Forbes, whose team reached the NCAA Tournament in his second year at the program. Joe Dooley might not be the dream coach, but at least he got his team (Florida Gulf Coast) to the “Big Dance.” And he knows all about this fishbowl — he was an assistant under Fran Fraschilla from 1999-2002.

You got to give the fan base credit — it does its homework. And if Krebs doesn’t give Lobos fans a coach who has that look (you know, a winner?), they won’t be lining up at the ticket office looking for season tickets.

Whoever walks to the dais to expound upon his vision of Lobos basketball for the next four to five years, he has to speak with passion and conviction.

He has to sway a circumspect public that he can bring home Mountain West Conference titles, NCAA Tournament appearances and maybe even that elusive Sweet 16 berth.

The best thing about being the coach to pick up the pieces of UNM fans’ broken hearts is that they’ll give him a chance if he gives them a sliver of hope that he might be “The One.”

There is a problem, though. If he gives them what they need, they’ll ask for what they want. When he fails at that, they’ll turn their back on him.

And Krebs, or the next AD, will have to find another home run for fans to love — until he breaks their heart, too.

Notice a pattern here?