Mike Locksley’s 2-26 record didn’t earn him many fans off the field, but on the field his players supported him.
Most of the players said they were sad to see him go.
“It was sad at the moment, but we have to move on,” wide receiver Ty Kirk said. “We all have love for Coach Locksley. We had that one week when he left and people were kind of down, but we’re coming together.”
Former assistant head coach and defensive coordinator George Barlow was promoted to interim head coach after Locksley was dismissed. Much like Locksley, Barlow is popular among the players.
“Coach Barlow is a great guy,” senior kicker James Aho said. “He’s very motivated to help us and he’s willing to do anything he can to help us get a victory.”
The players said they respond to Coach Barlow’s motivation and his fiery personality.
“He’s a high-intensity guy,” Kirk said. “He gives us a lot of energy. On game days he gets us pumped up to go out there and compete.”
There was a smooth transition from Locksley to Barlow because Barlow’s coaching style is similar to Locksley’s.
“He has a lot of the same thought processes and mentality that coach Locksley had,” running back Crusoe Gongbay said.
Even through the smooth transition, seeing his head coach fired in the middle of the season was a growing experience for Gongbay, he said.
“I’m getting over it now,” he said. “In the beginning it was a little shaky but now the young guys were forced to grow up a little faster that they should have and the older guys are looking after the younger guys since they already went through this once.”
Aho has already seen one head coach go. Rocky Long, now the head coach of conference rival San Diego State, left the Lobo head coach position in 2008. Aho said he also found it hard to see coach Locksley go.
“He became a big part of all our lives,” he said. “We’ve accepted it and taken in Coach Barlow as our head honcho.”
The next test for Barlow and the Lobos is conference rival TCU at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Horned Frogs are 4-2 on the season and averaging 39.3 points per game this year. Last season, the Horned Frogs went undefeated and beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
The Lobos’ plan is to run the ball to keep their offense off the field.
“We’re trying to run the ball to waste time off the clock and keep our defense off the field,” Gongbay said.