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A lone helmet sits on the bench at UNM versus NMSU game at the University Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Opinion: Top candidates for UNM football

After the dismissal of Danny Gonzales, three of the Daily Lobo’s sports reporters have listed their top candidates for the position.

Andy Avalos

While the Boise State Broncos blew through the Lobos 42-12 on Nov. 11, Boise’s Head Coach Andy Avalos could replace Gonzales. While this could seem strange, the statistical comparison between Avalos and Gonzales has a clear message of what could be brought to the Lobos.

While Gonzales was with UNM, Avalos was developing his track record at Oregon State as defense coordinator, and by January 2021 was hired to be the head coach of his alma mater Boise State.

In 2022, Avalos was awarded the Mountain West Conference’s Coach of the Year, and then continued to take his team to win the Frisco Bowl and their first ten-win season since 2019. Avalos was fired only a few weeks ago with two games left in the season, yet his track record shows his potential – sitting at a 22-14 overall record with being just shy of three full seasons.

With the seemingly unfortunate timing of his firing, it could show potential for Avalos to come back and have a fresh start somewhere new, like New Mexico. With his experience, track record and time spent within the Mountain West Conference, it could be a good match for our Lobos.

Bryant Vincent

As an athletic director, Eddie Nuñez may be drawn to big names like Gary Patterson or Zach Arnett who have proved they can compete in the big leagues of college football. But what about the Lobos current Offensive Coordinator and quarterback coach Bryant Vincent?

It would be easy to overlook Vincent; he is the underdog, but so is Lobo Football.

With an increasing number of Lobos entering the transfer portal, UNM needs to appoint a head coach sooner rather than later. Vincent is already familiar with the program and has created a bond with the players who will remain Lobos for the 2024 season.

It’s important for a coach to connect with their athletes, and Vincent has shown he is more than capable of doing so. Throughout his time at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Vincent built a bond with his athletes while continuing to push them on the field.

In his last season at UAB, players wrote a letter to the school’s president, Ray Watts – making their case for Vincent to be promoted from interim head coach to the permanent head coach for the 2023 season, according to CBS Sports.

Vincent came to UNM following five seasons at UAB. The Blazers won two Conference USA Championships and two bowl games while he was there. The Blazers finished the 2022 season 7-6 overall, and won the 2022 Bahamas Bowl – the Blazers’ sixth straight bowl appearance, and fifth one with Vincent on staff.

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In Vincent’s last season at UAB, the Blazers averaged 437.6 yards per game, which ranked 33rd in offense for the 2022 season. Coming to UNM with his offensive knowledge, he improved the Lobos' dead last  228.1 yards per game in the 2022 season to 410.6 yards this year – enough for 48th place.

With UAB having disbanded its football program in late 2014 and later reinstating it, Vincent knows what it’s like to be the underdog and rebuild a program, and UNM is in desperate need of a rebuild.

Gary Patterson

The Lobos will need to have a quick turnaround to achieve the level of success they are striving for but they also can't afford to miss out on this next era of the program. UNM should hire someone with a high floor and will bring in immediate stability: Gary Patterson.

Patterson was most recently the assistant coach at the University of Texas in 2022 but previously led the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs from 2001-2021.

Patterson has an overall head coaching record of 181-79 and is 11-6 in bowl games. He is a defensive minded coach that played the Horned Frogs into a power five conference. When he got there, TCU played in Conference USA before a dominant stint in the Mountain West took the school to the Big 12 where they remain today.

Patterson knows what it takes to win the Mountain West and is even familiar with Albuquerque serving as the defensive coordinator during the 1996 and 1997 seasons.

It would also add another level to the NMSU rivalry. The Aggies Head Coach Jerry Kill is good friends with Patterson. Recently Patterson went to visit Kill this August, according to Las Cruces Sun News. Patterson also served as the best man to Kill’s wedding, according to the Pioneer Press.

Patterson has been linked to coaching the University of Houston among others, the Houston Chronicle reported. UNM would have to beat out multiple schools to land Patterson.

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at or on Twitter @BillyJackDL

Francesca Cicconetti is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @fran_cicconetti.

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

BillyJack Davidson

BillyJack Davidson is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL 

Francesca Cicconetti

 Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @fran_cicconetti


Thomas Bulger

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

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