By Kevin Sweeney
New Mexico has turned to an in-state rival in its search for a new head coach.
Current New Mexico State head coach Paul Weir is will be hired as the next head coach at New Mexico, according to The Lobo Lair. He will replace Craig Neal, who was fired after 4 seasons at the helm in Albuquerque.
Other candidates who were connected with the vacancy included FGCU head coach Joe Dooley, ETSU head coach Steve Forbes, UT-Arlington head coach Scott Cross, and San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego.
The 37 year-old Weir departs Las Cruces after just 1 season in charge. However, it was a very successful season, as NMSU went 28-6 in a campaign that featured a 20-game win streak and an NCAA Tournament berth. One of only 3 Canadian-born Division 1 head coaches, Weir has strong recruiting ties in Canada. NMSU has 4 Canadians currently on their roster.
Weir will have to move quickly in the coming days to assemble a roster for the 2017-18 season. UNM currently has no players on the roster who averaged more than 6 points per game last season, and appear to be facing a rebuilding year this coming season.
New Mexico State heads into a coaching search for the second consecutive offseason. If looking to hire from within, they could look to Jessie Bopp, a well-regarded recruiter and young assistant. If not, a pair of former NMSU assistants currently at power conference schools in Tony Stubblefield (Oregon) and Chris Crutchfield (Oklahoma) could be candidates.
New Mexico State and New Mexico meet for a home-and-home series every season. That meeting will certainly be an interesting one to watch this year, especially as Weir returns to Las Cruces as the coach of a rival.