ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley was hired Monday as New Mexico football coach, becoming the fourth black coach at a major school.
A seasoned recruiter who helped sharpen the Illini's offense in past few years, Locksley, has spent four years at Illinois as coordinator. Though the Illini struggled, Locksley has been credited with building one of the Big Ten's best offenses after following Ron Zook from Florida.
Athletic director Paul Krebs said he was "thrilled" at the hire but declined further comment until the new coach is formally introduced in Albuquerque on Tuesday. Locksley could not immediately be reached for comment.
Locksley replaces Rocky Long, who resigned last month after 11 seasons in New Mexico. The Lobos finished 4-8 overall, 2-6 in the Mountain West Conference.
Only four of 119 in the Bowl Subdivision have black head coaches.
Turner Gill is in his third season at Mid-American Conference champion Buffalo, Miami's Randy Shannon is in his second season and Houston's Kevin Sumlin is in his first. All are taking their teams to bowl games.
Locksley went to the Rose Bowl with Illinois last season, but the Illini finished 5-7 this year. Even so, Illinois' 438.8 yards per game ranked 19th in the nation in total offense, while their 269.3 yards in passing offense, under quarterback Juice Williams, led the Big Ten.
"He is ready to take this next step and I know he will be a great ambassador for the University of New Mexico," Zook said. "Locks is the whole package. He can coach, he can recruit and he can motivate his players. He did a tremendous job with our offense here and will be missed."
Krebs previously had described the attributes he sought in his next coach, calling for a strong recruiter, and someone who would run an exciting offense and actively promote the program. He called the New Mexico job an attractive one, thanks to advances made under Long, and said his phone was ringing as soon as the post opened.
In resigning last month, Long -- a hard-nosed coach whose teams often reflected his defense-minded personality -- said he believes the coaching staff, including himself, did a "terrible job."
"In 2005, we did a terrible job of coaching and this year we did a terrible job of coaching," he said. "Other than that, I think our staff, our players have been overachievers every other year."