Locked & Lobo’ed: UNM taps Locksley

By Daniel Johnson

Following speculation that Mike Locksley was being considered for coaching positions with Clemson and Syracuse, the now-former Illinois offensive coordinator has landed a head coaching position – with the University of New Mexico.

The Lobos athletic department released a statement Monday night naming Locksley its replacement for Rocky Long, who resigned in November after coaching his alma mater for the past 11 seasons. Locksley will turn 39 years old on Dec. 25 and has spent the past 17 years in collegiate coaching.

“We’re thrilled to be introducing Mike Locksley tomorrow as the new head football coach at the University of New Mexico,” Lobos Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs said.

Locksley had spent the past three seasons as quarterbacks coach and the past four as offensive coordinator with the University. He was also the running backs coach at Florida with Illini head coach Ron Zook from 2003-04. The 29th coach at New Mexico will head to Albuquerque, N.M., with a strong history of recruiting, which will be arguably the most important thing Zook will have to replace.

“I am very excited for Mike to have this opportunity. He is ready to take this next step and I know he will be a great ambassador for the University of New Mexico,” Zook said in a press release Monday night. “Locks is the whole package. He can coach, he can recruit and he can motivate his players. He did a tremendous job with our offense here and will be missed.”

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CSTV college football analyst Tom Lemming said Monday that Locksley’s departure could create problems for Illinois if the program does not continue to work the Washington, D.C. area as well as he did.

“I would imagine losing him is obviously going to hurt,” Lemming said. “The players on the team will help, but the competition (in D.C.) is fierce, in the next couple of years it could dry up if (Illinois) is not careful.”

Assistant On-Air Sports Director Alex Symonds contributed to this story.