By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
What a difference a day makes.
Even if it really doesn’t.
On Monday, I hastily threw together a post — literally seconds — before going on the air with Eddy Aragon of KVIA, saying the University of New Mexico would announce its men’s head basketball coach at 6:30 p.m.
The information, which I didn’t confirm as I have done during 40-plus years in the business, changed shortly thereafter. There was an “announcement” was actually the official ouster of Richard Pitino at Minnesota — which I had earlier reporter — and not the “announcement” of the Lobos’ new coach.
Although the two are closely related.
Unfortunately for me, and to the delight of plenty of Internet wanna-be reporters and longtime detractors, I’m not a Twit-iot follower.
Thus, I had no idea that UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez had responded to my post/Tweet with “Really, call me and let me know how it goes,” until I was off the air.
After getting texts and calls from folks after the broadcast on the Rock of Talk, I was told about the mistake and immediately texted Nuñez to apologize.
I can only imagine his phone blew up like a bong during a weed convention in tornado alley.
It was a wild set of circumstances that led to MY boner. But while there are reasons, there are no excuses.
I let the hectic rush of doing too many things at once send me into Twit-iot Sphere, and became one of them.
Only for the moment.
Meanwhile, call it a crystal ball.
Because today (March 16), barring more unforeseen craziness, the new Lobo coach will be named.
I was actually ahead of my time. A day early and a dollar — well, something like that.
And no, it won’t be Michael Cooper.
The two finalists are the same two; Pitino and former Nebraska and Colorado State coach Tim Miles.
Yes, I was the first to report those two.
A Lobo decision was never likely to be announced until Pitino’s situation at Minnesota was cleared up.
That came on Monday night. About 6:30 p.m. MDT.
Does that mean, Pitino is getting the job?
Don’t ask me. Ask the Internet gurus and the media experts who have been riding my coattails for information for two weeks, since I broke the news of then Lobo coach Paul Weir’s ouster.
Or ask those who touted Cooper, Kenny Thomas, Steve Alford, Joe Biden, Jared Hart (Huh? Keep reading) and a million others.
UNM sports information director Frank Mercogliano has been frantically working on the press release since Monday – probably even earlier than 6:30 p.m. — and should have that out today.
With two candidates, he’s got a 50-50 chance of being correct.
In 2017, I received reinforcement all about how accurate sources can, and can’t, be in this God-awful social media-era. That’s when current Charlotte Hornets coach and Albuquerque native James Borrego was offered the Lobo post — and verbally accepted it — but a deal couldn’t be worked out.
It wasn’t going to be a repeat of that in 2021 for me.
Then came Monday.
Still, nothing except one day changes, and Nuñez is expected to name either Pitino or Miles to the job today with a meet-and-greet slated for later this week, most likely on Thursday.
And while many Lobo fans, Internet gurus and media geniuses have criticized both Pitino and Miles for having losing records in the Big Ten, I think it’s a no-lose hire for New Mexico either way.
Want to hold me to something?
How about a prediction?
Whichever coach is hired, he will make UNM very competitive next season — and be in the hunt for a Mountain West conference title and an NCAA Tournament berth within two years.
In the meantime, local Cumulus operations director Hart and talk show co-host and New Mexico Bowl executive director Jeff Siembieda can spin, “See, that’s why we banned Ticky from interviews on our stations.”
And I’ll just keep doing homework for them and much of Lobo Nation.
But avoiding Twit-iot Ville while on the air.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.