ENMU parts ways with football coach Ribaudo

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Mark Ribaudo spent 15 years on the football staff at Eastern New Mexico University, the last seven as head coach. The Greyhounds were 2-9 in 2011.

By Dave Wagner

PORTALES — Mark Ribaudo’s 15-year run at Eastern New Mexico University is over.

The school said in a release on Tuesday that it had “requested and received” Ribaudo’s resignation after seven seasons as ENMU’s head football coach.

Athletic director Jeff Geiser said the school would like to have a coach in place by Dec. 1, but he added a more realistic timetable is Dec. 9, the first day coaches can make on-campus contact with recruits.

“The thing that really jumps out is (the new coach has) to be an excellent recruiter,” Geiser said. “You’ve got to do two things — you’ve got to recruit and you’ve got to retain (players).”

Ribaudo, 47, was hired at ENMU in 1997 as linebackers coach. He was promoted to defensive coordinator the following year and helped the Hounds post seven consecutive winning seasons and a 49-26 overall record in that span, including Lone Star Conference South Division co-championships in 1999 and 2000.

He was promoted to head coach after Bud Elliott retired following the 2004 season. The Hounds went 25-51 in his seven campaigns at the helm, including 2-9 this fall.

Ribaudo said he intends to stay in coaching at the college level.

“I need to start looking for jobs; that’s all you can do,” he said. “I’m just grateful to the people of Portales. I came here as a young assistant coach and I’m leaving as an old head coach.

“The best part of this whole deal is the people of this community. The only regret that I have is I didn’t win more ballgames for my kids.”

Geiser said as hard as it is to do, the school thought a change was in order.

“We just need to go in a different direction,” he said. “I’m not talking about winning the conference every year; what I’m concerned about is being competitive. That’s what I’m looking for, and I think that’s what (university president) Dr. (Steven) Gamble is looking for.”

He said Ribaudo has been a positive influence on the players he’s coached, and on young people in general, and added it’s never easy to make coaching changes.

“It’s never good — you don’t like doing these things, but the reality is there’s a responsibility to produce competitive teams,” Geiser said.

Ribaudo said helping his players become better people is something that’s important for him.

“This is not pleasant, but it’s not going to stop me from coaching,” Ribaudo said. “I still think I’ve got a lot of kids I can help through football.”