Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Daily Lobo The Independent Voice of UNM since 1895
Latest Issue
Read our print edition on Issuu
Danny Gonzalez Fired

Former UNM football safety and punter Danny Gonzalez hired to coach the football program in 2019. Image taken February 2020.

Danny Gonzales no longer leading program

In a press release Saturday night, the University of New Mexico announced the dismissal of the football Head Coach Danny Gonzales. Gonzales coached for four years and had an overall record of 11-32 and 5-26 in conference play.

In a press conference on Sunday, Nov. 26, Athletic Director Eddie Nuñez stated that the level of success of the program is not what they are looking for, especially in this era of college sports.

“The landscape is changing in college athletics and we want to make sure that we stay not just part of the picture, but a true contributor in the future,” Nuñez said.

Gonzales, in the statement, said he will continue to support Lobo athletics and was grateful for the chance to coach the team he played for.

“While I’m disappointed, I will always appreciate and be grateful for the opportunity to return to UNM and lead the football program as head coach,” Gonzales said. “I’m proud of the program we built and will always cheer on my alma mater in the future.”

Nuñez in the release went on to say the search for a new head coach has started.

“With the department’s standard of excellence, our strong fan support for Lobo athletics and our commitment to football, I am confident that we will find a tremendous coach to lead us into the future,” Nuñez said.

In Nuñez’s press conference, outside of “high character” and “high integrity,” he did not elaborate on what the ideal experience level of the next head coach will be. Whether it be a current coordinator or former head coach, everyone is on the table.

The contract buyout will include a $350,000 payment to Gonzales funded by private donations. As of Nov. 26, all other members of the coaching staff still remain with the program.

Another factor in the firing was attendance. This season, the Lobos averaged 15,982 tickets sold and had 12,094 in attendance in the final home game. Nuñez was transparent in that ticket sales are an important part of the athletics budget, but went on to talk about how it is also important in getting student athletes the support they deserve.

“For a program of our size, every dollar counts. So for me with attendance, there are dollars in that equation. But the reality is (that) I want for people (to be) there supporting student athletes more than anything else. To have 15,000 people – that's good. I get it. Those are passionate Lobos, but we need to be able to have 25,000 to 30,000 in there on a regular basis that are supporting our student athletes,” Nuñez said.

Since 2019, Gonzales has seen several changes in college football. He coached through the height of the Covid-19 pandemic where the football team had to play their home games in Nevada. In 2021, Name, Image, Likeness deals were introduced to the college level, and in 2022, the NCAA expanded their transfer portal rules to make it easier than ever to allow student athletes to find the right program for them.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Get content from The Daily Lobo delivered to your inbox

In his press conference, Nuñez said that navigating NIL and the transfer portal will be a factor in hiring the next head coach.

Gonzales inherited a 2-10 team but had a little more success in his reign. His first season in 2020, the Lobos went 2-5 with the two wins coming at the end of the season against Wyoming and Fresno State. In 2021, the Lobos went 3-9 and beat rival NMSU and upset Wyoming again, but it was followed up with a 14-game conference losing streak that was not broken until 2023.

2022 saw the departure of longtime Lobo Coach Rocky Long and the firing of offensive coordinator Derek Warehime. The Lobos went 2-10 and had one of the worst offenses in Football Bowl Subdivision that season, and a double digit loss to NMSU that was repeated in 2023.

This season was the most successful in the Gonazalez era, going 4-8 but after getting the offense to a higher level, the defense and special teams took a step back. UNM also led FBS in penalty yards through the regular season with 1076 this season – 166 more than the next team in the Washington Huskies.

Gonzales was undeniably dealt a bad hand when it comes to the situation he took on. He also undeniably loves Lobos athletics – cheering just as hard as anyone in The Pit right in front of the media row. But in the cutthroat world of college football, winning is the only thing that matters.

Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @thomasbulger10

Thomas Bulger

 Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @thomasbulger10 

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Daily Lobo