New Mexico incident a hot topic at MWC teleconference call

2009-09-30T00:20:00Z New Mexico incident a hot topic at MWC teleconference callSteve Taylor - Daily Herald Daily Herald
September 30, 2009 12:20 am  • 

During Tuesday's MWC football teleconference call, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall -- usually a center of attention -- was asked very few questions. After a tough loss to Florida State, the Cougars bounced back with a solid win over a good Colorado State team.

The man of the hour was a surprise. The person that many wanted to talk to was New Mexico head man Dave Locksley, the coach of a team that's 0-4 with three of those four losses being blowouts.

On Sept. 20, Locksley got into an argument with his receivers coach, J.B. Gerald. Locksley escalated the fight by throwing a punch, apparently splitting Gerald's lip, and they had to be separated by the rest of the coaching staff.

This incident just adds to the rough start that Locksley has had in New Mexico. In May, only six months into his new job, he was accused of sexual harassment by an administrative assistant. When taking into account the sexual harassment charges, the 0-4 start and now the fight with an assistant coach, Locksley was asked whether he feels lucky he hasn't been suspended.

"Again, I can't talk about the harassment complaint, but as I've said before, when I do something wrong I have no problem with standing up and saying I did something wrong," the Lobo coach said. "As far as the recent incident that happened between me and coach Gerald, I take full responsibility. It should have been handled differently. There's always two sides to the story; as far as the earlier incident, that will take care of itself. I have no problem taking the heat for what just recently happened, but the other will be handled through mediation or the courts."

Locksley pointed out that the fight with Gerald happened a week ago, so his team has moved on, even if it's new and interesting to the media. He said they had a normal week of practice, and that they are focusing solely on football. Locksley also said he hopes Gerald will come back as his receivers coach, but at this point, he doesn't know what Gerald will do.

In spite of the lack of questions, Mendenhall was pleased with Saturday's win.

"After our first MWC game, our football team is excited to continue to grow and improve. We had a hard fought game on Saturday and we have a lot of respect for Colorado State. They are a very good football program, and we were glad to get a win in a conference game, which is most important."

The Cougars play Utah State on Friday, with their game a day early because of this weekend's General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Days. Last year, BYU played at Utah State and in spite of a 34-14 victory, the game was a lot closer and tougher than expected. Mendenhall was asked what he thought of last year's game.

"I think Utah State was very competitive (last year)," Mendenhall said. "I think not only was the team competitive, their fans were certainly into the game. As I remember -- I don't remember much from the game -- but I remember the end, and Utah State was trailing, and trailing by a fairly large margin, and yet the fans were behind their team and really supporting them right to the end in a pretty chaotic environment. I was really impressed."

TCU coach Gary Patterson was also asked quite a few questions. His team pulled off a big win on Saturday, beating Clemson 14-10 -- the Horned Frogs' second road win over an ACC opponent this season. The victory, combined with another week of upsets, moved TCU up to 10th in the AP poll.

The TCU coach continues to get questions related to the BCS due to his teams ranking and undefeated status. Patterson was asked whether being a member of a BCS conference would help with recruiting.

"The doors would be wide open," he said. "Really the only thing we fight here is just that we're not from one of those conferences if that's what a kid wants. If you could play for a national championship or get the opportunity to, then there would be nothing else to talk about."

Patterson was asked whether he's concerned about being left out of the BCS if Boise State and Houston continue to stay undefeated. He said he's focused on his team and that he can't control what anyone else does. Patterson defended TCU's strength of schedule, and said that it's possible there could be two non-BCS schools to play in BCS game if they're ranked high enough.

• Unga has broken pinky: Mendenhall said junior running back Harvey Unga has a broken pinky finger on his right hand but will still play against Utah State.

Mendenhall said surgery would require a pin to be put in Unga's hand and that would put BYU's leading rusher out indefinitely. So Unga, who had a cast on his right hand during Tuesday's practice, will play on with the broken digit.

"It doesn't seem to bother him so it's not going to bother us. He would like to play," Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall also said senior nose tackle Russell Tialavea (knee) is probable for the UNLV game on Oct. 10, which means sophomore Romney Fuga will start against Utah State.

Senior defensive Vic So'oto had surgery on his injured hand on Tuesday and is out for the Utah State game, then probable for UNLV.

Wyoming: Cowboys head coach Dave Christensen didn't participate in the teleconference. He was in the hospital being treated for kidney stones. He was expected to be fine and back to practice later Tuesday or today.

Utah: The Utes suffered a major loss when Matt Asiata tore his ACL in the Utes win against Louisville. Kyle Whittingham said that Eddie Wide will take over the running back duties, while sharing some carries with Sausan Shakerin.

New Mexico: Lobos freshman B.R. Holbrooke won't play this week, and next week's status is still uncertain. Running back James Wright is 50-50 for Saturday's game vs. Texas Tech.

UNLV: Rebels coach Mike Sanford said Omar Clayton's MRI on his throwing shoulder was simply precautionary. He expects Clayton to practice this week and to play on Saturday.

• Daily Herald Sports Editor Darnell Dickson contributed to this report.

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