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The Countdown

A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.

P.S.R. Op-Ed

Go Out and Win the Whole Thing, Aggies

New Mexico State is preparing for the worst. In a joint statement released yesterday by university president Barbara Couture and athletic director McKinley Boston, the school acknowledged that it “has no major media market to bring to the table,” and in an age when college sports “are ruled by the potential for TV coverage,” this lack of “value” has left New Mexico State — and Idaho, for that matter — on the outside looking in during the latest round of conference expansion. If a decidedly pessimistic outlook on the last week’s events, New Mexico State’s stance is undoubtedly realistic: barring a last-second heave, the Aggies and Vandals will be the odd men out.

“Make no mistake, we will be playing football next year and we will be competing in a revised WAC conference for the 2012-2013 school year,” read the statement. Well, let’s hope so: New Mexico State is 118 days from a scheduled date with Sacramento State to open the season. If ensuring that the Aggies will field a team in less than four months is the good news…

“Our near-term goals are to compete successfully.” What remains undecided is New Mexico State’s long-term vision, whether it entails an attempt to join the Sun Belt; a stab at becoming an Independent; a move down to the F.C.S., either temporarily or for good; or dropping the football program altogether.

The prospects grow less appealing as you go down the line, as you’d expect. An invite from the Sun Belt would, in a way, leave N.M.S.U. better off than when this round of expansion began — as currently comprised, the Sun Belt is a far better league than the WAC. Taking on Independent status might not be feasible, given the school’s athletic budget. The latter two options are distressing; the last in particular would be devastating.

“We continue to explore all options and ask our university community of alumni, supporters and students to stand united with us as we seek solutions,” read the statement. “We want to assure the community that we will continue to take any and all measures we feel might assist us in reaching a successful solution to this current challenge.”

The university’s decision regarding its football future will come behind closed doors. It will be made by the school’s board of trustees, its athletic director, president, chancellor, key alumni and local politicians, should the latter chose to include themselves in the conversation.

The football team — this team, specifically — will not be included in the discussion. The program itself will be considered and reconsidered, but only in the big picture: what N.M.S.U. brings to the table, whether it can be competitive, raise a league’s profile, widen a league’s platform.

The Aggies will play games come late August, as the statement guaranteed, but like Idaho, they might be playing out the string. From Sunday through Friday, the Aggies are at the mercy of those power-brokers who decide the landscape of college football. Only on Saturday will the Aggies be able to return to business as usual.

There’s only one thing this team can do: go out and win the whole damn thing. Beat New Mexico — again. Knock off UTEP. Kick the snot out of Texas-San Antonio, the Aggies’ short-lived conference rival. Beat Louisiana Tech. Sail past Texas State, showing the Sun Belt what they’d be getting. Win the WAC. Earn a bowl berth. Have the best season in school history.

Leave nothing in reserve. Make the Sun Belt stand up and take notice. Show the rest of the country what those in Las Cruces believe: that this is a program on the rise. Just go out and win the whole thing. The Aggies may no longer control their fate, but they own it.

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  1. Great article!

    Only one correction: It’s McKinley Boston, not McKinley Bolton.

    Though NMSU football could use the royalties from Michael Bolton songs.


  2. schedule nit says:

    Then again, they could go the other way and tank it. Give up 100 points every game, never score, and basically just get out of everyone’s way on the field. Now THAT would make a statement, and unlike your scenario, it could actually be made to happen. All the team has to do is make the decision–their opponents will of course cooperate.

    Might even make them MORE attractive to the Sun Belt as well! Who doesn’t want an auto-win every year?

  3. WashingtonDCduck says:

    This is a sad deael for those in Las Cruces, who love college football at the FBS level and love their Aggies. Hopefully them, and the Idaho Vandals can make this work and continue to compete at the highes level.

    Great article.

  4. Hokieshibe says:

    @nit – how would allowing your team to become the worst in the country (by a long shot) help? The sun belt wants teams that expand its market and promotes its brand. Not someone to make the conference look weaker.

  5. Dave says:

    Best. Sports. Movie. Ever.

  6. GonzoAggie says:

    The Aggies do have the best team they’ve had in at least a decade. They have the players, coaches, and experience. It’s possible that players and coaches could be thinking about future schools and jobs. But if Walker can get them to play with the proverbial chip on their collective shoulder, proving that they belong, while remaining poised, they will win the last WAC title.

  7. schedule nit says:

    @Hokie: I didn’t say it was a legible statement. Just that it is at least one this team is capable of making. I’m all for preseason optimism, but they could win 3 games and arguably be NMSU’s “best team in a decade”.

    Surely we don’t think the Sunbelt is in some sort of high-stakes TV contract negotiation.

  8. southwvboy says:

    I started following NMSU when they signed a local legend Trevor Walls from here in Ohio and am now hooked for some reason. I get most of there games which I DVR on tape delay to watch on Sundays, from Aggievision and the ESPN powered WAC network. I agree with Gonzo that this has the potential to win the WAC. I was supper excited for the Aggie’s when the big dogs left the WAC as I thought the door was open for them to take over.

    I will miss the WAC along with the guys that announced the games on TV. Joe Glen may have to go back to coaching.

  9. Adam Nettina says:

    Two years ago at WAC Media Day, I had the pleasure of losing to Seth Smith in a pushup contest. Ever since then I have had a soft spot in my heart for the Aggies. All things considered, I hope they find a home. Their basketball program is not bad, so perhaps that will help?

  10. Len says:

    Dropping football or even dropping from d-1 should never be an option. That the President and AD were not fired immediately after this statement amazes me. I’d like to know what all these teams that are bolting from the wac actually bring to the TV table?

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