So the Aggies lost again, 41-7, in Logan, Utah this past weekend. It was once again a game of missed opportunities, bone-headed penalties, and bad luck. Yes, the Aggies were 31 point underdogs to Utah State, but this is still a hole that’s getting deeper by the second. We could very well be staring down the barrel of a 1-11 season.
The University of Idaho gave coach Robb Akey the axe this past week; he had compiled a record of 20-50 since 2007. I can’t help but wonder if DeWayne Walker could be next. It’s a real shame: Walker is one classy guy, and it’d be a shame to lose him. As a coach, he’s good but not great. Yes, his 10-35 record is unimpressive. But let’s keep in mind that he’s been running this program on a shoestring budget. It’s a well-known fact that there is insurmountable apathy regarding college football in Las Cruces. No one cares about funding or supporting this program.
As a student, it can be quite discouraging. People here simply refuse to support the football team, not having the foresight to realize that we’ll never win unless the students show up to the games. If Virginia Tech’s student support is at 90%, NMSU is at about 15%.
I saw the headline on NMStateSports.com after the Utah State loss: “Multiple Aggies post career highs in WAC loss.” Seriously, who cares about individual accomplishments when we’re getting humiliated every week? The few loyal fans that we have are desperate for wins, and some of us are sick of having Walker sugarcoat everything. He isn’t the kind of guy who’s getting in his players’ faces and ordering them to play better. For all his effort and positive attitude, Walker’s just too low-key to get this program permanently out of the cellar.
Look no further than Mike Leach’s hiring at Washington State. The Cougars were awful during the Paul Wulff era and haven’t been to a bowl game since 2003, but the bombshell hiring of Leach (who went to 10 bowl games in 10 years at Texas Tech) rejuvenated the entire support base for that program, which badly needed a makeover. Leach immediately began to teach his team how to win and not just compete.
The problem is that we’ll never hire someone of Leach’s caliber. Las Cruces is well-known as a coaching graveyard, and we’re in the middle of a new administration change on campus; a new president, a presumably new athletic director, and possibly a new coach will be coming in.
As is well-known around campus, our football team is homeless for the foreseeable future. The WAC is dead, and both NMSU and Idaho are being forced to go independent for 2013 and beyond. Neither program has made any sort of noise this season, further hurting their cause.
There’s a reason Notre Dame and Brigham Young are independent; both schools are enormous and have huge, lucrative TV contracts. NMSU and Idaho will never have the deals that those two schools have. Unless we get some serious donations, NMSU will never get over the hump.
Again, it’s a real shame. Other schools are able to get funding at the drop of a hat. Utah State was actually in a very similar position to us four years ago. They hired Gary Andersen and have been improving ever since – so much so that Andersen has received two extensions in two years. The difference is that USU has made a legit financial commitment to playing NCAA football, while NMSU has not.
Look at what other schools have done. Eleven years ago, Rutgers was in the Big East basement, but they brought in Greg Schiano and the rest is history. Temple hired Al Golden and completely turned that program around. Could something like that happen in Las Cruces? Maybe. But we need to start with some serious cash to invest in the football program. Give Walker one more year, throw some money at the program and see where it goes. We’re not in a position to beg and plead for a conference to pick us up; we just need to roll the dice and see what happens.