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Mumme's goal is WAC title

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State University on Thursday
named Southeastern Louisiana's Hal Mumme as its new football coach.

"Hal has demonstrated his ability to win, create an exciting
brand of football and is committed to becoming part of the
community,'' NMSU athletic director McKinley Boston, who himself
was hired earlier this month, said in announcing Mumme's
appointment at an afternoon news conference.

Mumme was one of three finalists from among 48 candidates.

"Sometimes they just got it and I really feel like he's got
it,'' Boston said.

NMSU fired Tony Samuel as coach on Nov. 24. Samuel had led the
Aggies to two winning seasons in eight years, compiling a 34-57
overall record, including a 5-6 mark last season.

NMSU, which moves to the Western Athletic Conference next year,
has had only four winning seasons in the past 35 years.

The school this past season was "very competitive in a lot of
games,'' said Mumme.

He said his own style was "a high-risk offense.''

"We throw the ball around a whole bunch,'' he said.

Mumme said his top goal was to win the WAC and his second was to
get into a bowl game.

"You play in a conference to win it,'' he said.

Mumme said he'd met a few Aggie players informally but had not
yet been introduced to the team.

"I've read the media guide but I haven't had a chance to look
at any tape,'' he said.

He said he would start making recruiting telephone calls next
week. "Then we're going to have to work hard, there's only two
weeks left,'' he said.

His five-year contract with NMSU goes into effect Saturday. He
will get a base salary of $197,000, plus incentives still under
negotiation.

Boston said NMSU's goal was to "impact the young men in the
program and install discipline and focus. Of course, we want to win
WAC championships, we want to be consistently competitive in our
conference.''

Mumme, 52, has compiled a 97-64-1 record in 14 seasons as a head
coach and has taken teams to the postseason seven times.

He spent the last two seasons at Southeastern Louisiana, where
he restarted a program dormant since the mid-1980s. He compiled a
12-11 overall record there, including a 7-4 mark last season.

Mumme was head football coach at the University of Kentucky for
four years, going 20-26 and leading the Wildcats to two bowl games.
He resigned in February 2001 amid an NCAA investigation that
uncovered recruiting violations and led to Kentucky being placed on
probation for three years.

"I was in charge of that and some things went wrong, and I took
responsibility for it,'' he said Thursday. "The mistakes I made at
Kentucky were basically managerial mistakes. I also learned a lot
at Southeastern and reinventing my style.''

Boston said NMSU was able to get Mumme because of the problems
at Kentucky.

"I wanted a seasoned head coach, but I knew the chances of
getting that were not very good,'' he said.

He said Kentucky's former president told him he would hire Mumme
again without hesitation.

"Part of it was that he (Mumme) wasn't ready. Sometimes you
have to grow into the job, and as he was doing that, he made some
mistakes,'' Boston said.

Mumme, who was not sanctioned by the NCAA, spent 18 months away
from football before Southeastern Louisiana gave him a contract
that was to run through the 2007 season.

He was head coach at Valdosta State from 1992 to 1996 and Iowa
Wesleyan from 1989 to 1991. He was an assistant at UTEP from 1982
to 1985.

Mumme, who received a bachelor's degree from Tarleton State
University in 1975, played football for New Mexico Military
Institute in 1970-71 and for Tarleton State in 1974-75.

He announced most of his staff Thursday, including former
Pittsburgh Steelers assistant and Missouri and Vanderbilt head
coach Woody Widenhofer as defensive coordinator.

Widenhofer is "pretty well versed in every defense there is,''
Mumme said.

Other staff members are Carlton Buckels at secondary; Shannon
Dawson and Gary Goff, wide receivers; Mumme's son Matt Mumme,
quarterbacks; and Mason Miller, running backs.

Southeastern athletic director Frank Pergolizzi said a national
search for Mumme's replacement had already begun.

"Our plan is to be expeditious but also thorough and selective
in the process with the hopes of having a new coach named by the
start of classes (Jan. 18),'' Pergolizzi said. "Our focus will be
to find the best candidate who has a proven track record of
success. ... The ideal candidate will also have a background in a
wide-open and exciting offensive style of play.''