Monday, May 7, 2012

NMSU "Gains" Football Stepchild Role

New Mexico State University has come to exemplify the futility of smaller schools in much more relevant, small televisions markets of competing in today’s college football world. That’s not fair to NMSU, which probably is beside the point.

The weekend (May 5-6) edition of the Wall Street Journal said, “New Mexico State University’s athletic department needed a 70% subsidy in 2009-2010, largely because Aggie football hasn’t gotten to a bowl game in 51 years. Outside of Las Cruces, where New Mexico State is located, how many people even know that the school has a football program? None, except maybe for some savvy contestants on ‘Jeopardy.’ What purpose does it serve on a university campus? None.”

This writer, Buzz Bissinger, is the author of “Friday Night Lights, so he knows more than a little about the broader ethos of football.

At, Stewart Mandel said, “And so, two-and-a-half years after the Big Ten first got the train rolling, the last schools left in the station appear to be Idaho and New Mexico State, the lone remaining WAC members. With their conference destroyed and no invitations pending from another league, the two may have no choice but to drop down to the FCS.”

Mandel’s article summarized the college football conference realignment frenzy of the past few years.

Last week (May 2) the Albuquerque Journal’s Randy Harrison observed, “NMSU is in Las Cruces, which is part of the 91st largest TV market in the nation, according to Nielsen. It bears mentioning that the market is El Paso. That’s home to UTEP, and UTEP gets the attention. It’s not good to be a small market program in the first place — much less sharing it with a university that’s in another conference.”

Harrison, like the world of northern New Mexico, forgot about the 1.5 million (or so) in Ciudad Juarez who watch American TV and buy American stuff. Harrison isn’t alone in overlooking Juarez. It’s just one of those annoying and continuing New Mexico realities.

My suggestion remains the same. Form a lower level football conference (Rio Grande Conference? Rocky Mountain Conference and include Idaho?) and fit football, which is a legitimate use of a Saturday afternoon for students, into an appropriate context, which the massive subsidies.

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