September 25, 2011
Prior to Saturday's 48-45 overtime loss to Sam Houston State, 19-year-old Joshua Butts was stopped outside of the stadium for driving while intoxicated, among other things. He told police he was a New Mexico football recruit and that he was driving Locksley's car. The car was, in fact, registered to Locksley and his wife and belonged to his son Meiko, who was friends with Butts from their high school days in Champaign, Ill., where Locksley was offensive coordinator on Ron Zook's staff at Illinois before landing the New Mexico job in 2008.
The school tried to diffuse the situation with a release stating the facts about the car and that Butts had nothing to do with the program, but the mere mention of Locksley's involvement coupled by the embarrassing loss on homecoming was enough to finally push vice president of athletics Paul Krebs over the edge.
This was the third off-field incident with Locksley's name attached to it. In his first season, he was accused of sexual harassment by a former secretary and was accused of assaulting an assistant coach. Prior to this season, New Mexico had actually renegotiated Locksley's contract to give the school a smaller buyout if it wanted to let him go.
It seemed like it was just waiting for the next incident to make its move.
Regardless of whom the car belonged to or who was driving it, a minor stopped for a DWI in a car registered to the head coach would get any coach fired regardless of the school. It's just a shame that it took an incident like this — one that could have been worse, especially since there were other intoxicated minors in the car — for New Mexico to finally wise up and fire what will probably go down as the worst hire by an FBS program in the history of the game.
Locksley should have been fired after his first year if not for his off-field incidents then for his 1-11 record. When he went 1-11 again last year, it was another opportunity missed when the school announced that Locksley would be back for a third go-round. But when the Lobos started 0-4 and lost to an FCS team, Sam Houston State, New Mexico needed to admit its mistake, cut its losses and start looking for options.
Defensive coordinator George Barlow will finish the season as the interim while New Mexico shops around for someone who can rebuild a program that is currently in one of the worst stretches in school history.
The lack of expediency in regards to Locksley by the athletic department could work against New Mexico in looking for a new coach. While some might see Locksley's tenure as the university giving him a chance, others might see it as a complete disregard for the football program's welfare.