Gonzales Officially Introduced at Rousing Presser
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Eddie Nuñez, director of athletics, introduced Danny Gonzales officially as the new head football coach at The University of New Mexico to a rousing ovation from a huge throng of fans, current players, former players, former teammates in the U.S. Bank Club Level at Dreamstyle Arena – The Pit on Wednesday afternoon. The entire affair held the air of a reunion, with Gonzales, a former five-year student-athlete, graduate assistant and coach at UNM coming back to lead his alma mater.
Danny Gonzales was presented with a No. 10 jersey
from A.D. Eddie Nuñez. Gonzales
wore 10 as a Lobo punter/defensive back.No matter where Gonzales looked, whether it to the front row where his wife Sandra and four children Jake, Cole, Chloe and Abby were sitting, to the media, most of whom covered Danny either as a coach at UNM, a player at UNM or a player at Valley High School, or to the back of the room, where many of his former teammate were hanging out in support, he saw friendly faces. He saw fans. He saw family. It was a perfect Homecoming for UNM’s 32nd head coach.
Nuñez in introducing Gonzales talked of UNM President Garnett S. Stokes and her initial thoughts on their meeting. “From the minute she met (Danny), she knew that this was someone who could lead our program and lead it in the right direction.” Nuñez mentioned the guiding principles that would be the tenets of the coaching search. “Leadership, someone who could provide leadership, high-character, focus, a strong background in academics and NCAA compliance, and a commitment to excellence.” As for Gonzales and where he fell in the spectrum? “He check all those boxes.”
Gonzales then took over the podium, and then he took over the room. Equal parts humble and gracious with a strong confidence, Gonzales looked and sounded the part of a head football coach. He immediately thanked his family, including his dad Ray, who was sitting in the second row and videoing the proceedings on his iPhone for other members of the family that couldn’t be there. He also thanked Herm Edwards and his former bosses at Arizona State, as well as his mentor Rocky Long, who had sage words for the 43-year old.
“Rocky told me it’s your time, don’t screw it up, it’s our team,” which elicited plenty of laughter from the crowd, including the media. The coach followed by saying he promised Long, who Gonzales served under from 1999-08 and then 2011-17, that he would take care of it.
The Gonzales FamilyBeing a New Mexico native (Gonzales through out a shout out to the Valley alums in the crowd at the men’s basketball game on Tuesday night who were there to greet him), Gonzales has a definite plan for bring UNM back to bowl eligibility and competing for conference championships. “I’m a New Mexico kid. We are going to recruit New Mexico kids. When I was here before, our best players were the kids from New Mexico, because it meant something to them.” Gonzales added that he has plenty of recruiting areas to get to and that “If they want to be here and they can play football, they are going to be a Lobo.”
The festive nature of the press conference was evident with the media, where the various members were asked to state their name and affiliation just in case Danny didn’t know them. It was pretty much an unnecessary step. He knew basically everyone from Van Tate and Henry Tafoya to Will Webber and Steve Virgen. He smiled as he answered questions. He had fun. When it was over, media members wanted to get him one-on-one. He did every interview. He shook every hand. For one interview he had his daughter at his side clutching his hand. It was all perfectly natural. It was all perfectly, well, perfect.
“There isn’t anybody else who will work as hard as I will to build a winner,” said Gonzales, who added, “We’re going to win.” Perfect.