Antonio “Moe” Maestas grew up with University of New Mexico football. His late father, longtime New Mexico sports journalist Frank Maestas, covered the Lobos for decades in good times and bad.
Moe Maestas, having witnessed the good times from a front-row seat, is eager to help bring them back. Accordingly, at a news conference on Thursday, he introduced an initiative called “Lobo Friday” — encouraging Albuquerqueans from all walks of life to buy in.
Now is the perfect time for such a move, he said, while wearing a facsimile of the red “Lobo Friday” golf shirt he hopes to see proliferate around town on Fridays before home games.
Maestas cited the presence in the program of head coach Danny Gonzales, an Albuquerque native; defensive coordinator Rocky Long, a former UNM quarterback and head coach; and offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier, a Lobos all-conference O-lineman as a player.
“The program went through some tough times,” Maestas said. “There was hope (with the hiring of Gonzales in 2019), and then COVID hit. We were the only team, the only state, that didn’t play a home game (in 2020), and that set us back a little bit.”
Maestas noted that, as Long did during his years (1998-2008) as UNM head coach, Gonzales is making a major effort to recruit New Mexico players.
“That and the fact that the coaching staff now kind of encompasses the legacy of success of Lobo football,” he said, “I think is the perfect combination.”
Maestas, a New Mexico State Representative, is also an experienced trial lawyer and a former assistant district attorney. He’s used his legal connections to get participation in Lobo Friday from city and county government. He also has reached out to the city’s hoteliers, restaurateurs and brewers for support.
Maestas has seen attendance at UNM football games slip from an average of 38,341 in 2005, during Long’s tenure as head coach, to 16,332 last fall. Through three home games this season, the average is 15,531.
Now, he said, starting with Saturday’s home game against Wyoming, “We’ve got three bites of the apple (remaining in 2022).
“… Our hope is that we’ll reach a tipping point (in Albuquerque) where if you don’t participate in Lobo Friday, then you’ll be the outlier.”