UNM Athletic Director talks Danny Gonzales firing, future of Lobo football
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Danny Gonzales era of Lobo football is over. The head coach was fired after the double overtime loss to Utah State on Friday.
KOB 4 gives you a look back at Gonzales’ four seasons running the program, and has what’s next for Cherry and Silver.
Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez says they’re going in a different direction, and Saturday was a tough day.
“Unfortunately, this is a decision that I’ve made. It’s not – it’s nothing against Danny,” said Nuñez.
This is not how Nuñez envisioned it four years ago.
“Danny was absolutely – and I still believe this today – the right hire at the right time,” Nuñez said.
In 2019, amid much fan fare, Gonzales was back coaching at his alma mater. But 11 wins and 32 loses later, Nuñez had seen enough.
“I care for the guy immensely, and it was a very hard day for me to have to tell him what I said. I had to tell him yesterday,” said Nuñez.
Nuñez says slumping attendance was part of the calculations.
“It’s critical, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “To have 15,000 people, that’s good. I get it. Those are passionate Lobos. But we need to have 25 to 30,000 in there on a regular basis, that our supporting our student athletes, those kids.”
Nuñez says Gonzales agreed to a $350,000 buyout paid by private donors. While the other coaches are retained for now, the nationwide search is on for the next head coach.
“I’m looking for somebody that has the ability to get us to the next level,” said Nuñez
While Nuñez would not commit to specifics about what he’s looking for in a head coach, he was asked about the current Syracuse defensive coordinator.
“One way or another, I’d love to have Rocky here, a part of this program just because,” Nuñez said.
Nuñez says he’d welcome a conversation with Rocky Long – the former Lobo player and coach. But he noted how much has changed in college football.
“It’s a different era. You can coach old school, you can be old school, but can you navigate the new school, and that’s happening with the transfers, and everything else?” he said.
Coach Gonzales’ legacy here will not be a winning one. However, he may be remembered for re-establishing integrity and a family-first atmosphere.
KOB 4 asked Nuñez what he would say to those fans that would have liked to see him finish his contract here:
“There’s not much I can say, you know, all I can say is have patience and trust that the process that we’re going to be going forward with is going to be the best for this program,” said Nuñez.
Nuñez says he expects to have the new Lobo head coach introduced within the next few weeks.