ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The vacated seat in DeWayne Walker’s office at New Mexico State hasn’t had time to cool down, and already somebody has applied to warm it.
“Jerry Granville? What’s his name? Glanville? The one that leaves tickets for Elvis,” NMSU athletic director McKinley Boston said Thursday in Las Cruces. “He called and sent his résumé.
“So I know we’re on top of the world now.”
It is in fact Jerry Glanville, former Atlanta Falcons head coach, who also applied at NMSU previously. And if you don’t have a sense of humor whereas Aggie football is concerned, what else do you have?
In case the Aggies weren’t facing enough of an uphill battle, they lost their head coach Thursday, when Walker resigned to join the Jacksonville Jaguars as defensive backs coach, 13 days before National Signing Day.
Boston said at a news conference that Doug Martin, who had just returned to Las Cruces for his second stint as offensive coordinator, instead will become interim head coach.
Walker, 52, said he made the decision with his family Wednesday night, though some websites reported Tuesday it was a done deal.
“It’s a tough thing to walk away from a head coaching job,” Walker said by phone from Las Cruces. “You always want to finish what you started, and I’ve got a son and daughter in school here.”
At the same time, Walker said, Jacksonville is a chance to get back into the NFL in as much of a ground-floor opportunity as the league ever would afford. The Jaguars have a new owner, new general manager, new head coach and are coming off a 2-14 record that tied Kansas City for the league’s worst.
Walker was to meet with the Aggie team at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, when he would explain that it is strictly a business decision to enhance his career.
“The toughest team meeting I’ll ever have,” he said. “I’m gonna miss this team.”
He leaves New Mexico State with a four-year, 10-40 record and on an 11-game losing streak — at perhaps the single school in the country where someone with that track record wouldn’t have come under fire.
Then again, it’s arguably the toughest job in the Football Bowl Subdivision. New Mexico State has been bowl-less for five decades, fights an interminable battle just to reduce the deficit of resources in comparison with most of its competitors, and now is orphaned from a football standpoint in the conference realignment madness.
Boston said Walker had made a very positive impact on the program — putting together a team that went to class, stayed out of trouble and restored discipline in the locker room.
“Overall, you get graded on wins and losses, and 10-40 is not a great record,” Boston said. “But I would not measure his contributions in the totality of wins and losses. We’re going to miss a lot of things he brought to the table.”
Now it’s Martin’s turn to charge the five-alarm fire with a bucket of water, which he said he is eager to do.
“This is not my first rodeo,” Martin, 49, said. “I’d done the head coaching thing for seven years at Kent State when the progress was almost getting ready to be eliminated. I would relish the opportunity to be the coach for several reasons. … I feel there is unlimited potential for this football program and for Las Cruces as a city to take ownership of this team.”
Job one for Martin likely is to save a recruiting class — which Boston said included 24 players who had committed to the previous head coach. A few more are scheduled to come to Las Cruces this weekend on official visits. Receivers coach Todd Littlejohn is New Mexico State’s recruiting coordinator.
Walker, who has been outspoken about New Mexico State’s needs for upgrades in facilities, particularly for strength and conditioning, and assistants’ salaries, had an easy answer for what NMSU’s next step should be.
“Hire Doug Martin,” Walker said. “He’s been a head coach before, the kids want him, and he’s got some pieces there. But at the end of the day, it’s just the continuity.”
Martin was 29-53 as head coach at Kent State (2004-10). He had success at NMSU in 2011, when the Aggies ranked 47th nationally in total offense and 26th in passing offense. He spent last year as Boston College’s offensive coordinator.
As per an extension he signed after 2011, Walker’s departure does not require a buyout, Boston said. “There are no contractual issues.”