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Coaches by the Numbers looks at Mike Locksley's tenure and who New Mexico should target.
If you have ever been to Vegas and played Blackjack, you have inevitably sat at the table with the "gut" player. The gut player is the guy or gal who splits Kings when the dealer has a six showing, hits on 18 because he "feels" that three coming his or her way, and never ever hits when he or she has sixteen and the dealer has a face card showing because he or she "knows" the dealer doesn't have 20.
Sometimes, gut players have a good night. Most of the time they do not. The players who have the highest chance of actually walking away with more money than they sat down with are the players who stick to the "basic strategy" determined by the numbers and odds. Doing this doesn't guarantee success, but it does greatly reduce the risk of losing your money.
In the world of hiring college football coaches, a lot of universities are gut players. For a case in point, let's examine the case of Mike Locksley.
Coach Locksley was fired this past Sunday after going 2-26. Coach Locksley also had some off-the-field troubles - try choking and punching an assistant coach, or sexually harassing an administrative assistant, or how about his son's girlfriend getting arrested after a "recruit" was busted for DWI in a car registered to Locksley himself (seriously, you cannot make this stuff up) - which certainly made it easier to fire a coach who clearly wasn't getting the job done on the field. Before we get into who might be some possible replacement names for the Lobos, let's analyze the decision to hire Mike Locksley in the first place. On the surface level, Locksley has a pretty solid resume:
1992 – Towson – Secondary Coach & Special Teams Coach
1993 – U.S. Naval Prep School – Defensive Coordinator & Secondary Coach
1994 – U.S. Naval Prep School – Defensive Coordinator & Defensive Line Coach
1995 – Pacific – Outside Linebacker Coach
1996 – Army – Wide Receivers Coach & Tight Ends Coach
1997 – Maryland – Running Backs Coach
1998-2002 – Maryland – Running Backs Coach & Recruiting Coordinator
2003-2004 – Florida – Running Backs Coach & Recruiting Coordinator
2005-2008 – Illinois – Offensive Coordinator & Quarterback Coach
If you don't dig much deeper than his interview (he's a recruiter so we are sure his interview was very compelling) and his resume, you would think you were getting a dynamite coach. However, if the Lobos had decided to dig a little deeper, they would have seen the following:
|Coach||Position||Yrs.||Overall WP%||Conf. WP%||WP% Against Top 25||WP% Against Over .500 Teams|
|2005-2008||37.50% (18-30)||31.25% (10-22)||18.75 (3-13)||29.03% (9-22)|
The numbers above are pretty atrocious, but we do need to keep in mind that Locksley was just in charge of the offense during these years, not the entire team. Given that fact, let's look at the numbers related to what Locksley was controlling (CBTN Rank below is among Big Ten offensive coordinators from 2005-2008 with at least 2 years experience).
|Coach||Position||Yrs.||CBTN Stars||CBTN Rank||Avg. Total Off.||Avg. Scoring Off.||Avg. Scoring Off. National Rank|
|2005-2008||11 (out of 14 coaches)||390.95 ypg||23.28 ppg||73.25 (out of 120 teams)|
Looking at the numbers for Coach Locksley leaves us scratching our heads as to why this guy was on anyone's radar for a head coaching position?
However, according to one of the news stories from when Locksley was hired, "Locksley has been praised as one of the top recruiters in the country. He was listed among the top-20 recruiters in the nation by Sports Illustrated and was named a top-25 recruiter by Rivals.com while at Illinois."
(For a whole lot more on why a school shouldn't hire a "recruiter", click here, here, and here.)
We could give you a whole lot of data on Locksley's tenure at New Mexico, but we think the 2-26 record in his 28 games as head coach should tell the story. So, the top "recruiter" with terrible numbers didn't work out for the Lobos.
Who should be next for New Mexico? The first thing to keep in mind about New Mexico is that since 2004 they have played 54.02% of their games with inferior talent, 33.33% with equivalent talent, and 11.49% with superior talent (FCS opponents don't have recruiting data). Whoever is the next coach at New Mexico needs to be someone who can do more with less. The second thing to keep in mind about the New Mexico job is that it's just not a very desirable job. It is currently the 86th best job in the nation by the numbers and one of the weaker jobs in the Mountain West Conference. This is simply to say that Urban Meyer, Gary Patterson, and Chris Petersen are not going to be on the list. With the obvious big names like this out, let's turn to a few other names.
Jarrett Anderson: Coach Anderson is currently the co-offensive coordinator at TCU and is a New Mexico alum (on why that shouldn't really matter, click here). He has worked under coach Patterson for 14 seasons and has been the co-offensive coordinator since 2009. From 2009 - Present, TCU has put up some of the most impressive numbers in the nation. Among active offensive coordinators with at least 2 years experience, only Chip Kelly and Dana Holgorsen rate higher than Anderson and co-coordinator Justin Fuente. It certainly didn't hurt Anderson to have Andy Dalton at the helm in the 2009-2010 seasons, but without Dalton at the helm in 2011, TCU, after four games, is ranked in the top 25 for scoring offense, third down efficiency, points per play, and yards per play. Additionally, since 2004, TCU has played 53% of its games with inferior or equal talent, so coach Anderson has some experience with having to do more with less.
Ivin Jasper: If you saw Navy's game against South Carolina, you will understand the meaning of doing more with less. Jasper has been the offensive coordinator at Navy since Ken Niumatalolo took over from Paul Johnson. Jasper played quarterback for Paul Johnson when Johnson was the offensive coordinator at Hawaii and stayed pretty much by Coach Johnson's side until he became Navy's OC under Coach Ken. Given the talent situation at New Mexico, we believe the triple option offense would be a great weapon for New Mexico, as it would give the Lobo's a chance to outsmart opponents instead of out-talent them.
Neal Brown: He is only 30 years old, but in his four seasons as an offensive coordinator (two at Troy and the last two with Texas Tech) Neal Brown has put up some extremely impressive numbers. He is currently in the top ten among active coordinators with two years minimum experience in the following categories: Scoring Offense, Total Offense, 3rd Down Efficiency, Average Passing TD's Per Game, and Average Passing Yards Per Game. As with any coordinator, there is the risk that all of these coaches make better groomsmen than grooms.
That being said, we like the numbers behind these coaches and believe they would give the Lobos a shot of becoming a competitive program again. The numbers tell you that you should always hit on 16 when the dealer has a ten or a seven showing. Sometime you will bust and sometimes the dealer will still beat you, but hitting is still the right decision because of the way the numbers work. In this instance, we have found three coaches with great numbers and while numbers don't tell the whole story, they give New Mexico the best chance to avoid another bust.
-by CoachesByTheNumbers.com (@CoachesBTN on twitter)