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UNM offensive coordinator looks to blend spread, triple options

Calvin Magee wanted to make one thing as clear as a southern Arizona morning sky.

The University of New Mexico, he said, is not simply a port in a storm.

“I’m fired up,” UNM’s new football offensive coordinator said Saturday evening in a phone interview. “I feel like a kid.

“I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this.”

Magee, 54, whose hiring at UNM was made official Saturday afternoon, comes to Albuquerque from the University of Arizona. He’d been U of A head coach Rich Rodriguez’s associate head coach and co-offensive coordinator since 2012.

But three days into the New Year, Rodriguez — for whom Magee had worked for a total of 16 years at West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona — was fired amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

New Wildcats coach Kevin Sumlin, hired last week, is expected to bring in an entirely new staff.

“It was a shock,” Magee said of the events that led to his departure at Arizona. “But things happen. It’s a big-boy profession, and you just go to the next thing.”

For Magee, after 17 consecutive seasons coaching at NCAA Power Five conference schools, New Mexico as his next thing could be seen as a step down.

Again, to be clear, Magee doesn’t see it that way.

“I can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Inquiring minds, of course, want to know exactly what plans Magee has for the UNM offense.

The Lobos’ triple option-based attack hit a major bump last season, that bump contributing to a disappointing 3-9 season — after which coach Bob Davie chose not to retain offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse.

Davie has said, though, that he does not want to abandon the triple option that had been so productive during the first five years of his tenure. But how does the triple option pair with the spread-option scheme that Magee helped run at Arizona?

That, Magee said, is what he’s here to figure out — marrying the two schemes, evaluating personnel and determining what will work and what won’t.

“They’ve done some things really well (at UNM) with some really good coaches,” he said. “I’m just planning on tweaking it and fusing what we’ve been doing (at Arizona) over the years and seeing how it all works out.

“I’ll work with (the offensive staff) on that, and we’ll come up with a plan that’s best for us.”

Though he has watched some UNM game film from last season, he said, “I haven’t studied players, primarily. … Right now we’re concentrating on recruiting.

“That (evaluation) process will come over the next couple of weeks.”

In making the transition, it helps that Magee is coming to Albuquerque not from Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, etc., but from Tucson.

In two previous visits to Albuquerque for Arizona’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl victories over Nevada (2012) and UNM (2015), he said, he and his wife, Rosie, noted the similarities between the two cities.

“We said, ‘Wow, this reminds me of Tucson a little bit,'” he said.

So, then. For Magee, a north-central New Mexico sky — the past weekend’s grayish weather notwithstanding — is looking pretty good right now.

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