Category: Noodling

The Comeuppance of Craig Neal

By Daniel Libit

It’s over. Even if it’s not over yet. Even if it might not be over for a while — that surely has less to do with the man in question than the exigencies of his situation.

Craig Neal’s problems as a college basketball coach have by now become self-evident: the mounting losses, for starters, but really the entire package — the cockeyed public statements; the scapegoating; the sophistry; the pretense; the lack of discipline; the thin skin (that’s worse than Steve Alford’s, if that’s possible).

At New Mexico, Neal has presided over a staff that has been in a perpetual state of flux; over successive teams in retrograde; and over a son who was compelled to transfer out of his father’s program. It is a testament to many uncomfortable truths (about the New Mexico Lobos, yes, but also about college athletics, in general) that Neal has been able to noodle himself into his high-paying, state-subsidized job, with so little contingent accountability. And the picture does not get prettier once the curtain is lifted.

“Craig Neal, known affectionately across the nation as ‘Noodles’…,” reads the head coach’s official bio on GoLobos.com. But that kind of praise tells only a part of the story.

Despite Neal’s semblance of fair-haired, Indianan affability, NMFishbowl.com has found, he has also left a long trail of rancor and recriminations in his path as he voraciously careered from Toronto, to Iowa City, to Albuquerque.

This story is based, in part, on two dozen interviews with sources who have known Neal at various stages of his career — including coaches, players, parents, boosters, pro executives and administrators. In many cases, the sources agreed to talk only on the condition they not be identified, in order to speak candidly. Through a UNM Athletics spokesperson, Neal declined to be interviewed for this story, or respond to a detailed list of questions addressing the various claims made about him here.  Continue reading “The Comeuppance of Craig Neal”

Up in the Air: Lobo hoops edition

By Daniel Libit

Through a public records request, NMFishbowl.com recently obtained the recruiting-related travel expenses for the men’s basketball staff. While most of their destinations are fairly pedestrian — Phoenix, Las Vegas, etc. — a few trips stood out. Last year, for example, Assistant Coach Alan Huss took a jaunt to Greece, while Head Coach Craig Neal and Associated Head Coach Chris Harriman spent over $12,000 to grease the  Australian pipeline — all while the cash-strapped UNM athletics department was insisting that it needed to reign in travel expenses. You can peruse the full list below:

Head coach Craig Neal’s recruiting expenses

Associate head coach Chris Harriman’s recruiting expenses

Assistant Coach Alan Huss’ recruiting expenses

 

(photo credit: aeroprints.com/Wikimedia Commons)