I hear New Mexico hired Altman from Oregon. Say it ain't so.
Craig Neal is the only viable coaching hire at this point. New Mexico would be crazy to not give him a chance because he's the only choice that would keep the Lobo team together next year. Otherwise, the program loses all momentum. I think anyone who has watched Alford coach knows that Neal is not only an important part of Alford's success, he may be the most important element. While I can understand why Alford would take the UCLA job, right now, New Mexico is a better program overall. Obviously, there is that little thing about the Lobos failing to ever produce in the tournament, but the New Mexico fan base remains impressive. I can't think of any program aside from Indiana that Alford should have taken. He had an opportunity to do something special at New Mexico and now that won't happen. Next year's New Mexico team could be pretty good. Snell, Kirk, and Bairstow along with Williams would be formidable next year. I think only Alex Kirk is a legit NBA player right now. Snell isn't close yet although the potential is obvious. Williams has a spark but is slow to light. Bairstow could be a fine role player in the NBA in another year.
On the other side, the freshman class at UCLA and some of the LA recruits may be stellar next season assuming Muhammed sticks around another year...probably not. I hated Howland's coaching. He found a way to make great talent mediocre. He slowed them down so much that it was sickening. I hate to tell the Bruin fans, but Alford is very similar to Howland. He slows down the game. It would be like hiring Bo Ryan thinking he would make UCLA more exciting.
Anyway, hire Craig Neal for a year and see what he does. He would keep the Lobos intact for a run next year. I would love to see what he can do. He would certainly be set up for success next year and not bad if he could keep Kirk. Contrary to Alford's obvious success, he was never a favorite of the Lobo faithful because of his style. He's sort of a puhk....a very successful punk, but a punk nevertheless. Sorry to see his kid go because he was a serious shooter-reminds me of Ole Miss' Henderson- without the antics and baggage.
Hire Craig Neal. Period...or perhaps a semi-colon...if you can lure the Wichita St coach, that would be fine too. Good luck though... So while it's not good ridance to Alford, I would say the general sentiment is "hey man, good luck...don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out..."