Friday, February 17, 2012
As WAC's future becomes clouded, one wonders about the Aggies future
With former WAC commissioner Karl Benson leaving for the Sun Belt, it brings about questions regarding the New Mexico State Aggies and conference affiliation.
Benson going to the Sun Belt has long been speculated, and he said during a Thursday teleconference that he was looking to expand the league from 10 football-playing schools to 12.
Benson said he was happy with the conference's “geographic footprint,” which stretches from Florida to Texas. He said the central timezone was the “heart” of the league's geographic locations.
He also added that the conference would be willing to add FCS schools to the equation.
This leaves open the question, will NMSU land on its feet with all the program-shuffling taking place in conference realignment?
Not the Aggies olympic sports. These should be fine. Namely, it's football, and if it can stay out of harms way amidst the national realignment scene where the rich just seem to get richer.
First off, the WAC CANNOT afford any more football departures and it seems inevitable that at least a school or two could leave once again. Maybe it's Utah State or San Jose State in the Mountain West/Conference USA merger. Perhaps it's Louisiana Tech to the merger or the Sun Belt, or maybe Texas State and/or Texas San Antonio. Any such departures could very well dissolve the WAC as a football-playing league.
Could NMSU be a part of the MWC/C-USA merger? Perhaps. But it also seems that the Aggies have a lot going against them in the fight. A lack of a TV market and quality football program at the moment. Many have wondered about the Aggies overall financial commitment to athletics — namely football — and there is also the belief their regional rivals — UTEP and UNM, who are both part of the new merger — haven't lobbied for NMSU's inclusion. If true, none of these things can help the Aggies cause.
So perhaps it is off to the Sun Belt. But that also doesn't sound like a guarantee at this point. Again, Benson talked about being committed to Texas and not going further, while he's also willing to entertain FCS programs. Perhaps the Sun Belt is also raided in realignment and will be looking for football-playing members to help fill the void. At this point, it could be the Aggies best hope.
NMSU is faced with four real options right now.
• Find a conference, which I'm sure they are trying to do at the moment.
• Become a football independent, which Athletics Director McKinley Boston said the program couldn't afford financially.
• Drop to the FCS. Big Sky anyone?
• Drop football all together. You couldn't ask for a bigger black eye.
Boston said the Aggies are doing their due diligence in the face of conference realignment.
In this time, however, they can't be the ones left holding the bag.
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