I'm sure they are, along with every other school with a Division I football program west of the Mississippi.
But here's what conference realignment presents, and the reality facing NMSU. These leagues adding teams are looking for two things: TV markets and marketable football programs. And, at the moment, the Aggies really have neither.
There are other WAC schools that are sure to be in the running as well. Louisiana Tech, Utah State and San Jose State either have better football teams at the moment — as in this past year with both La. Tech and USU — or are located in bigger markets (San Jose State). Utah State is in Logan, Utah, although their regional rivals Utah and BYU are not in the newly-formed merger — Utah's in the Pac 12, BYU is an independent. One could even make the argument that new WAC members Texas State and Texas San Antonio are appealing choices.
The one thing the Aggies have going for them is geography — being close to UTEP and the University of New Mexico makes for easy travel in the conference and good rivalry games. But perhaps this works against them as well — NMSU hasn't been in the same league with either of their regional rivals since being members of the Border Conference, and many in the region say politics plays a factor in such divisions. Read this recent email response from former New Mexico State University President Mike Martin, now the chancellor at LSU:
“Why aren’t NMSU, UNM and UTEP in the same conference? There is no rational explanation. This has to do with ‘institutional egos’ and the illusive pursue of TV revenue. Several schools have fallaciously assumed they can move to a conference that will somehow lead to the generation of sufficient revenues to more than cover the additional cost of being in the new conference — whether the Mountain West or Conference USA or whatever. In reality beyond the four and half major football conferences (in the FBS) there is not and will not be enough money from TV and related revenue to make any real difference.”
The Mountain West and Conference USA merged 16 teams and are looking to get to 18 to 24. If the Aggies are added, it will likely be as the 23rd or 24th team, not the 17th or 18th.
And there's a good chance the WAC will get raided of at least a couple programs — the conference's future would seem to be in serious jeopardy. That, and commissioner Karl Benson remains a serious candidate to take over the same position in the Sun Belt — CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reported on Tuesday that Benson would be named the league's new commissioner on Thursday.
If the Aggies don't find their way into the expanded merger, they better have a plan in place for if/when the WAC disintegrates further.
Connecting the dots, a return to the Sun Belt — where the Aggies were members from 2001-05 — is not out of the question.
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