Steve Alford hired at UCLA: Craig Neal to be named New Mexico interim coach, per report

USA TODAY Sports

One in-house candidate has already emerged as a possible frontrunner for the job after being named the interim head coach.

The New Mexico Lobos are now in the process of finding their next head coach following Steve Alford's sudden departure to UCLA. Many in Albuquerque felt Alford was there for the long haul after he signed a 10-year contract extension worth $20 million last week, but that was hardly the case when the Bruins came calling.

With the job now open in Albuquerque, the Lobos have wasted no time getting their program's foot back in the ground. Associate head coach Craig Neal, who has worked under Alford since 2004, has been named the interim coach, according to a tweet from Andy Katz.

As names start to trickle out about possible permanent replacements at New Mexico, many feel Neal should have the interim tag removed and become the next head coach. Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and Seth Greenberg, a former head coach now working at ESPN, are just a few of the analysts who think Neal would be a solid hire.

Neal, 49, is widely liked by those at UNM and would keep the program's momentum moving in the right direction. The Lobos are set to return most of their roster from this season, which saw them win a tough Mountain West Conference and earn a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

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