This past spring, a slogan for New Mexico State football was, “It’s Time.”
Perhaps more fitting entering the 2012 season would be, “It’s (Do or Die) Time.”
For the team, the program, and Division I football in Las Cruces.
It’s about investing money into the program, and going for a winning season instead of simply hoping to fall backwards into one.
It’s about fans coming out and supporting the team, and showing that, yes, Division I football can happen in Las Cruces.
It’s about finishing the season with a winning record, going to the New Mexico Bowl, and beating a Mountain West team.
Even if all these things happen, could it still be too little, too late for NMSU? Absolutely.
These above moves should have been made years ago — and it seemed like they were when the Aggies first entered the Western Athletic Conference with then-president Mike Martin at the controls.
But recent years have seen a downturn — not a good time for such things to take place, why with conference rivals Utah State, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech planning an escape route, while the Aggies were busy trying to strengthen the WAC.
The fact that the football program is in this position is, well, depressing.
But the reality is that realignment isn’t done yet either.
More pieces are going to shift, and perhaps a conference will actually figure it needs the Aggies to fill out its membership.
It’s like playing basketball in the park with 10 dudes, and eight have been selected to a team. Two are left to fill out the roster, and, even if they aren’t any good you need them to play five on five. The Aggies just might be that guy.
NMSU has aspirations of being in the Mountain West, and maybe Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson will do them a brother-in-law favor and extend his league’s footprint to Las Cruces.
But neither seem to be an ideal fit at the moment — while the Mountain West would place the Aggies well regionally, and would seem like the best long-term home, could NMSU compete financially with such programs? And the Sun Belt simply isn’t a great geographic fit for the school or its current recruiting base.
Never mind that neither league seems very eager to add the Aggies at this point anyway.
Having an independent football program? What coach in his right mind would try to lead the Aggies to the promised land under such difficult circumstances?
One other option, however, is simply having a winning football season in 2012, then winning a bowl game for the first time since 1960. You don’t think that eyesore isn’t working against the Aggies in the present?
At the very least, it would provide a little recognition for the school, and give the decision-makers something to consider.
Every year is important, but this one would seem to elevate to a higher level.
The reality is, it could be one of the Aggies final hopes at survival.
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