A year after being a candidate for the head coaching job at UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso), Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Art Valero is among those being courted by New Mexico State University for its head coaching position. Following a 5-6 season, the Aggies fired head coach Tony Samuel after an eight-year run at the university.
Valero, who is in his first season coaching the Bucs running backs after spending two years (2002-03) coaching Tampa Bay’s tight ends, was pleasantly surprised by New Mexico State’s interest this week and plans on submitting his resume` to the Aggies athletic department.
“Somebody from down there asked me if I was interested and I said yes,” Valero said. “You always have to be interested in a head coaching position. But it’s difficult when you are in a season drive [for the playoffs] trying to do your job. You want to do your day job before you even go looking at a night job. That part of it is a little bit difficult.”
When asked if Valero, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Buccaneers in January 2004, had any ties to New Mexico State he said “no,” and speculated that the school’s administrators had admired him from afar.
“I guess that’s the case,” Valero said. “I was at the University of New Mexico some years ago, probably 1987-89, but I don’t know of anybody that was there at that time from New Mexico State.”
Valero has an extensive coaching background in the college ranks, beginning with a two-year stint at his alma mater – Boise State – where he coached the offensive line from 1981-82. After coaching the offensive line at Iowa State the following year, Valero moved on to coach the O-line at Long Beach State from 1984-86 before his time at New Mexico from 1987-89.
From 1990-94, he was the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Idaho. From 1995-97, Valero spent three years as the assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Utah State.
Valero’s last college gig was at Louisville where he was the offensive line coach and assistant head coach from 1998-2001.
Under Valero’s guidance, Tampa Bay halfback Michael Pittman is having a stellar year for the Buccaneers this season, rushing for a career-high seven touchdowns, scoring a personal-best 10 total touchdowns and rushing for 662 yards, which is 184 yards shy of his career-high 846 yards rushing with Arizona in 2001.