Press Conference Quotes (Boston on Football Program)
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  12/04/2008

Transcript of Dr. McKinley Boston's press conference on 2 December 2008, for New Mexico State University, regarding the football program.

[Dr. Boston]
Good Morning.

Approximately four years ago I introduced Hal Mumme as the new football coach at New Mexico State University and today, disappointingly, I am announcing that Coach Mumme has been relieved of coaching responsibilities effective today. As a part of this decision, there will be no state or university funds used to support the buyout of the coach's contract.

Our program is by many standards better than it was when Coach Mumme arrived four years ago. Our APR and academic performance significantly improved; the character of our student athletes significantly improved; we're stronger, faster. Unfortunately we are also are 11-38 won/loss record overall and 4-28 in the WAC in the past four seasons. Our budget has grown significantly. Our facilities are much improved. The national brand of NMSU as an athletic department, as a football program, as an overall athletic program is significantly better.

Unfortunately attendance continues to drop and we were at risk this past year, as many of you know, regarding NCAA membership average. We will probably meet our football revenue goals through WAC distribution. But not budgeted revenue from ticket sales.

Our future business and financial model assumes competitive seasons in football. And this year that was described as 6-6, being a minimum of 6-6, which would have made us bowl eligible, which I believe would have significantly impacted our overall financial situation.

All legal contract obligations with coaches and staff will be honored. All of the coaching staff are on contract through January 31st. Coach Joe Lee Dunn's second year will be honored and we expect him to be on the new coaching staff if he chooses.

The search for a new coach will begin immediately. I'm establishing and advisory committee during this search process. Danny Villanueva will chair the committee. Current members invited and accepted invitations to serve are Professor Jim Peach, who's back over here. Jim is the chair of the faculty athletic council and has been working very very closely with us on some economic issues. As some of you know Jim is a world-renowned economist that resides here at New Mexico State. Local business people Kevin McGrath, Lou Sisbarro; alums Larry Lujan; former player John Cordova; Walt Hines, whose dad is recently inducted into the Hall of Fame; former regent Dale Archuleta; Ray Locklin, a former player; A-Club chair and board president Bob Gallagher will serve on the advisory committee.

The search process will be a thorough one. I'll be committed to the Division 1A athletics director's covenant. We will do due diligence that allow for minority candidates to be interviewed and considered. I'll in many cases facilitate initial interviews and one-on-one sessions around the country. And invite from 6 to 8 finalists to a determined site for a group interview with the advisory committee again including faculty, alum and A-Club members.

I expect to make a recommendation to president Cruzado before Christmas. I have asked alum, and engineering professor Charley Johnson to be the acting head coach during the search process. And Charley will work closely with recruiting coordinator Ernest Wilson and myself and selected current assistants to sustain recruiting efforts during the transition.

What am I looking for in a coach? I am looking for energy, a fire-in-the-belly, who at least has a coordinating experience, familiarity with this area of the country and certainly the WAC Conference, successful recruiter, person who enjoys the external aspects of the job, someone who's approach to offense is similar to what we currently have.

I want to thank June and Hal Mumme for their vision in introducing to our community the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Campaign, which as you know generated over $600,000 in support of cancer awareness and research and treatment.

As I said before our program is better but our won-loss record, and my ability to manage the business side of this is simply I do not believe attainable under the current leadership.

And with that I will entertain questions. And Charley and I will also entertain questions at any point.

[Question Are Not Transcribed, Responses Are]

On what his concerns are for the program:

My concern primarily was for our student athletes. We had a great senior class. They provided great leadership. Chase Holbrook, Chris Williams, A.J. Harris, I thought those young men deserved the opportunity to be coached under the person that recruited them and brought them to NMSU. And I thought anything less than that would be dishonorable. And my commitment to allowing them to have the coaching experience under their head coach was the right thing to do.

On where the $385,000 buyout amount came from:

Our attorney interpreted the language in the contract as best he can, and between now and the end of his contract that they buyout figure is approximately $385,000. I'm sure that Coach Mumme and his attorney and lawyer will engage that process. Bruce Kite, the general counsel, will advise the university, represent the university's legal interests in that.

On why Mumme did not sign extension:

I'm not sure. I offered Coach Mumme a contract extension with conditions last year and submitted it to the board for approval. And coach Mumme and his lawyer decided not to sign the contract. So if you don't sign the contract, as far as I'm concerned, we have no legal obligations.

On Boston’s decision to name Charley Johnson acting head coach:
I think my reason for asking Charley to work with me in this capacity is to make sure that there is a football face on the program. And I think that those of you in this room know the legacy of Charley and as it relates to New Mexico State University, not only in terms of football, but as a member of this community. I expect Charley to work primarily internally with the current kids that we have in the program. Obviously there's always going to be the initial emotional reactions that kids have when they lose their coach. I expect Charley to work with Ernest Wilson, our recruiting coordinator, who has been putting together and managing the recruiting process for the last couple of years. There's some decisions that have to be made before a head coach is on-board completely. And I trust Charley's knowledge of football and our ability to communicate and work together. And obviously if I'm out and about, and I certainly will be that, there needs to be someone managing the ship. And I have the utmost confidence in Charley's ability to assist in that effort.

On Earnest Wilson:

I'm not sure Ernest would be the choice of the players. I have no knowledge of that at the moment. But Ernest is someone I respect. He's been in football for a lot of years. More importantly, he understands the talent of our players; he understands our recruiting needs; he understands the fixes that need to be addressed; and I'm very confident that he will handle this in the utmost integrity as we go through this next 3 to 4 weeks.

I would expect Ernest to be a candidate and I expect Joe Lee Dunn to be candidates. And I expect them to be serious candidates.

On Mumme committing no NCAA violations at Kentucky:

I'm not sure where you got your facts about Coach Mumme committing 40 violations, I'm not aware of that. In fact, the NCAA found Coach Mumme did not commit any violations as it relates to the program at Kentucky. Coach Mumme in a very, very competitive conference was very competitive; went to two bowl games while at Kentucky. And in my opinion would bring the kind of exciting football that I thought our community would appreciate and value. I wish hiring coaches was a science. I wish recruiting was a science. Unfortunately it's not an art; it's not a science; you do the best you can. In some cases you make great hires. I think the best example of that may be here where recently is Nick Saban at Alabama. I think they went through 3 or 4 difficult choices before they finally hit a home run. Unfortunately I don't have $5 million to hire a head coach. So when you're hiring assistants, you're hiring people who are going to learn how to be a head coaches. If you're hiring head coaches, you hire them based upon their demonstrated success. And I thought if you look at Vanderbilt and Kentucky in the SEC those are two programs that have historically not had demonstrated success in football. And I thought that anyone who could do that would have the possibility of being successful at New Mexico State.

On this being a difficult head coach job for Mumme:

I would not disagree at all that this was not - this was a difficult job when Coach Mumme was hired. But I think Coach Mumme knew this was a difficult job when he was hired. And this is a much better job today that someone will have pending the outcome of this process. But I also believe that I would've anticipated more progress especially this year in our program than we ended up with.

I've been in this community for four years now and probably the most consistent message that I've received that makes sense to me - I've received some messages that are emotional and does not make a lot of sense - but the one that - oh, the ones I don't agree with - but the one that I do agree with is that as a community we don't want to rebuild again, we don't want to start over again. We've been starting over since 1960. And I'm aware of that. And I'm aware of what that means. But at the same time, change is a part of this business. And there is a business side of it as well. And while I don't want us to - we're not going to look like Army and run the wishbone - I'd certainly hope that our approach - that whoever we hire, will have an approach to offense that is somewhat similar. And as most of you know, most programs today are playing some form of spread offense and throwing the ball. And I don't think we can have the same system - unless maybe I hired someone from Texas Tech - and I don't know if that's the case or not. But, there are approaches to offense today that I think are very similar and that's certainly something that I'll be aware of.

On Boston’s time frame of naming a new head coach:

I hope to make a recommendation to President Cruzado before Christmas, or certainly something in that area.

It's always an open book because on the recruiting and on the hiring, during the hiring process, you never quite know what's going to happen. But at the same time, as I did say earlier, I prefer someone with coordinating experience. I'm not - being a head coach is not a priority as I go through this process. But energy, the ability, the susceptibility to have demonstrated successfully recruiting, somewhat familiar with this area of the country. And it would be certainly nice to have someone that would have had a recruiting base that's in the states of Texas, Arizona and California.

On whether a community friendly coach is what Boston is looking for:

Clearly the external part of the job is a part of what we have to deal with. For me the primary decision is driven by the business - my ability to help Steve Macy fill the stadium next year; to help our corporate partners sell corporate packages. We have - I made a decision last summer to the regents as a part of our business plan. And significant part of that 10 year financial business strategy made great assumptions about success of football. And so we need football to be successful here to be able to continue to will our program with the financial model that was outlined for the board of regents.

That's not my driver. I've seen great, great coaches, who were very successful - and you don't have to be the most well-liked person in the world to be a successful football coach.

On the where Boston is at in the process of hiring a new coach:

I am in the organizational stage of that. But obviously have a laundry list of names of people that I'm interested in, that people have called and have expressed interest. And there are serious nominations from people around the country. I will entertain a - hire a search firm to assist in the process. But if not the traditional effort where you get [unintelligible] and some of those people. But I will have some administrative support in helping me through the organizational parts of this.

Well, number one, I'm the Athletic Director and the President and the Board have hired me to run and administer this program and I will certainly do it the best way that I can. I think I have significant enough experience to do that. Fans are part of the sports scene at any level. And I understand that there are what some people would describe as great fans; there are some who are die-hards; there are some who absolutely bleed crimson and white; there are those who are fanatical on the other way; and there are those that are fair-weather fans. There are fans across the spectrum and if in fact you allowed yourself to manage your program in the pleasing mode - and trying to please those people, then you'd be not true to yourself, and not be able to sleep very much at night. In fact, I was hopeful that the FBI would find out who the brainstorm behind that website. And, in fact, I wouldn't even be surprised if a slander lawsuit could be made possible. You can't frivolously take people lives and manage them in ways that could be destructive and certainly I've had some concerns about that. And legally I would - in fact, I've expressed concern legally about, whether or not the brains behind that shouldn't be subjected to a slander lawsuit from someone.

On Boston’s thoughts on the 2008 football season:

That was a disappointing part of this year. I mean we reasonably thought that we could go to a bowl game. We changed our scheduling philosophy significantly over the last four years. As most of you know during the Tony Samuel's tenure there were these body bag games that was the norm and you'd get beat up and lose half your players. And we changed our schedule to accommodate one revenue game and we would play one I-AA and we also now play home-and-homes with teams that we should be able to compete with. Next year we have a home - start a home-and-home with San Diego State. So, the approach to this I think is such that again the program is better today than it was four years ago. But the record is not there. And I just honestly didn't think I could sell hope for another year.

As I said I'm - my decision isn't driven - my decision is driven by the results and there also driven by the business side of it more so than the results. Because I think that very easily this team could have been 7 and 5 or 8 and 4. We were very, very competitive for the most part. And so I'm - you know the cupboard isn't bare. And I'm not saying that I - just at some point it is performance and you have to win. And you have to be able to sell the business side of it. I do not believe at this point that I can do that under current leadership.

On when Boston had a conversation with Mumme about the goals for the season:

Coach Mumme and I agreed that our team goals and my expectation this year that we were going to be bowl eligible. And up until the point that we were not bowl eligible we had no conversations about going forward or not going forward. And so the - when we did not - when we reached the point that we could not be bowl eligible, obviously I started to assess the possibilities about a change.

On if money will have a part in hiring a new coach:

I'm sure it will. There will be some limitations because - but at the same time, we have - our goals have been to make sure that we were competitive in our peer group; that we were competitive with other mid-major programs; competitive within the WAC. And the WAC range of salaries go as high as over a $1 million and as low as $250 thousand. And so there's a wide range of salaries within the WAC. And somewhere between now and the offer of a job we will have determined what we can afford and what we can offer.

At this point that's going to be driven by experience; it going to be driven by how bad I may want someone, whether they want us. There are lots of market issues that will determine salary. In many cases, credentials of the person.

Again on the 2008 football team and their competitiveness during the season:

I really don't want to spend a lot of time talking about the competitiveness of this, because we were a competitive football team. You don't go to Nevada and win a game in Nevada, on the road, without having talent. At the same time, we weren't able because of lots of reasons and injuries were a real part of this. You don't lose as many offensive linemen and replace as many linemen as we did without it having some impact on the ability to be competitive. I mean that' real. I'm not - that's a valid issue that a head coach has to deal with. At the same time, we didn't meet our goals. I thought our goals were reasonable, despite some of the challenges that the coach had to deal with. And at this point, I'm disappointed not so much - I'm disappointed that I have to make a move, because this is not fun. There are 9 - at least 9 families that are going to be impacted by this decision that I have to make. That's not frivolous - that's not a cavalier approach that you take to these things. I mean this is real life. And so you don't do these things without it being carefully thought out and analyzed and pretty confident that it's the only choice that you have to make and I'm making this because I believe it's the only choice I have to make that is in the best interest of our football program.

On what NMSU can offer the new head coach:

I think number one, our community. We have a great community. Magella and I have lived here for four years now and we've come to value the things that we hear people talk about why this is a special place to live. And I think it is. I think that the people do their homework and come to understand what we have. We have a budget that is competitive with our peer group. We have facilities now that are competitive with our peer group. But as most of you know, we have $2.7 million from the legislature last year capital outlay. There will be new coaches offices being built beginning early January. That will also put an additional face on the program and demonstrate commitment. There's a community - a faculty - and the academic side that I think creates a wholesome work environment. There's much - as I say, this is not the same job it was four years ago by any stretch of the imagination. It is a significantly different job; with significant advantages; and the one advantage that we have not demonstrated but I still believe is here - and that is our overall fan base. I think that if our fans - if we can give them a product that they can get behind, engage, and support the way our student athletes are attempting to do for them. I think that we can average 18 to 22 thousand. This can be a very successful program. But at the same time - as we said four years ago - which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

That was one of the criteria I listed as one of the things I'm looking for in a head coach. I want someone with energy that enjoys the external part of the job.

On the APR of the football team:

I think our current APR is at 908, 910, 907 actually. And we're reduced two scholarships - three, so we are at 87 - as opposed to - I'm sorry we're at 82 opposed to 85. And I believe we have 18 this year to offer this coming year.

Well it was down below 10% -- I believe it was down nine.

On Boston’s expectations for NMSU football:

The bar is to create an exciting football team to consistently bowl eligible to graduate our student athletes, and to engage and be a part of our community, to assist in fundraising, and to assist in our corporate outreach efforts and to do what football coaches are generally hired to do.

They will do. Well you know, whether or not they're bowl eligible or not, I don't know. That is the expectation. When I sit down and talk with whoever the head coach is, no different than with all of our head coaches. I mean there's not a head coach in our athletic program that doesn't have an understanding of what their expectations are.

We believe we reached it. The numbers haven't been audited yet. But when you're in Division 1-A, you have membership requirements. And some of that is in regard to spending and certainly in - it's not really 1-A anymore, what is it - FBS - Football Bowl Subdivision - I hate it but - anyway, there is a membership requirement. There's a two year rolling average. Again our numbers haven't been audited - but we anticipate that we will be in compliance at the end of the process.

I've talked to two that I know are interested and will apply for the job and they will be serious candidates.

Yes. The newest head coach will probably be the highest paid employee on NMSU campus. Why would you expect him not to win?

I said a similar philosophy and style of play. What I anticipate is that a head coach will come into NMSU with the understanding of the vision for our football program. And the bar for our football program at NMSU based upon the level of investments that we've made is that we want to consistently be bowl eligible. That is the baseline. Which means that a coach who is consistently 6 and 6, 7 and 6, or above, will have been doing his job at a level that is acceptable to me and the administration, that has adopted that competitive level based upon what we think we are as a program.

Do I expect a coach to come in and go undefeated next year? No - the cupboard is not bare, but, if I hire a coach and I give him a multi-year contract, I mean there's a transitional part of this business. Am I going to fire the new coach if he goes 5 and 7 the first year? No. Am I going to fire him if he goes 0 and 12 the first year? No. Unless you got some money that you want to give me [laughing]. I choose to look at the glass of water as half full. We think we're a better program. We think we have - we know we have better facilities. We know we have better kids. I'm hopeful the kids we have will stay in the program. I have no idea who will leave, how many will leave. Charley is going to do everything possible to make sure that we do our due diligence to make this transition as smooth as possible.

[Charley Johnson's comments are not transcribed]

I was pleased with Joe Lee - I thought that the energy that our guys played with; I thought the performance; I mean I look back at the LaTech game. We played extremely well. It was just one play - you know one play. You know I sit and look at Coach Henson and it's one free throw that may cost a coach's job. It's part of the game. And at some point, though, I do believe, I really do believe, that the influence of coaches - it's like raising kids, they hear the same voice a lot and at some point they really don't hear it. You know and every now and then you simply need a change. And again, the cupboard isn't bare. The cupboard isn't bare as it relates to coaches on this. We got some good coaches on this program. I've got 3 to 4 weeks to try and figure it out. And obviously I've been doing a lot of thinking about it over the last 3 weeks. But I'm pretty confident that at the end of the day that we will move forward in a way that I think we're all comfortable with.

Randy I would be totally shocked if that was not the case. We all have a pretty good sense of the upcoming stars in this game both offensively and defensively. The list of people that I have is pretty extensive. I got a call, believe it or not, from an old friend this morning, Joe Dean, used to be the AD and basketball coach at LSU. Joe nominated a guy that I already had on my list of people that I wanted to talk to. You know one of the good things about being in this business - and this is a relationship business - is that you get to know lots of people and again, I think getting. One of the things I didn't talk about but will be a part of this, there are a number of assistant NFL coaches that I am interested in that have expressed interest in the job. And that I will have conversations with as well.

[End of Press Conference]

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