Monday, October 29, 2012

Recapping the Aggies surprise performance vs. No. 24 Louisiana Tech

(Donte Savage and the Aggie defense played tough against Kenneth Dixon and Louisiana Tech's No. 1-ranked scoring offense/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

The best way to describe New Mexico State's football performance against Louisiana Tech on Saturday? From a defensive standpoint, it was astounding.

For NMSU to give up just 28 points? Against a team averaging 56 points per game on the season; against a team that scored under 50 points just once all year (when it tallied 44 against Virginia); against a team that dropped 57 points on Texas A&M and rang up another 70 and over 800 yards of offense against Idaho? Simply put, the Aggie defense looked like a brand-new unit Saturday evening.

Think about NMSU's early-season contests against the likes of Ohio, UTEP and New Mexico. Games where the unit looked poor in spurts or, frankly, all together in its entirety. On Saturday against Louisiana Tech the secondary covered well while sniffing out the Bulldogs screen-passing game. The defensive front-seven battled against the run and the Aggies tackled much more effectively. Going into the game, many (including this blog) thought a 60- or 70-point outing from Louisiana Tech was more than possible. But a season-low 28-point output? With the way the 2012 season's gone this was a moral victory and, when considering the opponent, the best game NMSU's played this season.

Unfortunately, if the defense has gotten better since it's early-season showing and played well enough to win against the No. 24-ranked team in the country, the offense hasn't made nearly the same strides, if any at all.

On a night when the team was expected to move the chains more effectively and score in the range of four touchdowns — a fair expectation against a defense that surrendered 36 points per game prior Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff — 14 points (all coming in the fourth quarter with NMSU already trailing 28-0) fell well short of the needed goal for victory.

Not that this is a new development. The Aggies have had underwhelming offenses throughout recent years (last year's Doug Martin stopover being the exception) and Saturday's performance has been the norm this season as well. Frankly, we've been resigned it.

Look no further than the curious handling of the quarterback position, particularly backup Travaughn Colwell: When he's in the game, the sophomore will run the ball out of the shotgun-wildcat formation. For an opposing defense, little guess work is involved, and the pickings look relatively easy. Then, he's put under center on a fourth-and-short play during the third quarter, only to fumble the snap from center. It's one of the few times — perhaps only time — Colwell's been put in such a position this season. Poor timing for such a move.

The use of the tight end continues to puzzle. Trevor Walls makes two nice grabs early, then is seemingly ignored the rest of the game. What ever happened to playing to one of the team's strengths?

And overall the unit continues to shooting itself in the foot — this is the main issue, as NMSU was relatively effective moving the ball Saturday. The first half saw some untimely drops and holding penalties, the second half witnessed three killer turnovers, in some cases with NMSU driving and establishing some momentum. It's been a theme throughout the season.


There were some offensive bright spots: Aside from his third-quarter interception, quarterback Andrew Manley played better. That, and running back Germi Morrison's been reliable, continuing to run hard and catch the football (16 carries, 92 yards; four receptions, 51 yards). Him and the offensive line (which has also played better since the bye week) seem to have generated some threat of a rushing attack.


When considering the above-mentioned factors, Saturday's game was counter-intuitive to many pre-game predictions. Again, the general expectation was for Louisiana Tech to score near its season average, perhaps higher. That, and after moving the ball better last week — despite finishing with just seven points against Utah State — NMSU's offense figured to have a level of success against the Bulldogs. Scores of 7-0 at halftime and the 28-14 final went directly against that pre-determined script.


If the Aggies continue their improvement, they should finish the season pushing a team or two and could grab another win.


One look at this game, and it's not far-fetched to reason Louisiana Tech could be slightly overrated. That, or they just weren't entirely on their game Saturday night.

For starters, they are a fun offense to watch in rhythm and their season statistics are unreal. And it would be naive to think three missed field goals in the first half from Matt Nelson didn't have some negative effect on them and could have boosted the Aggies morale as well.

But, as written on this blog before, Utah State could very well be the more well-rounded club going into the two teams Nov. 17 showdown in Ruston, La., that will most likely determine the WAC championship.


The Aggies go to Auburn this weekend with one of the surprise statistics of the season: Both teams holding identical 1-7 records.

The Tigers are minus-10 in turnover margin this season (same as the Aggies) and start nine freshman and sophomore players on the depth chart, eight juniors and just six seniors.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, October 28, 2012

VIDEO: Aggies postgame press conference vs. Louisiana Tech

DeWayne Walker, players react to 28-14 loss to No. 24-ranked Louisiana Tech

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sources: Establishing the Aggies independent schedule

Through reports and sourcing, we've compiled what is believed to be the majority of the Aggies 2013 independent football schedule. Nothing's been released from NMSU at this point. Here's what we've learned:

2013 home games
Abilene Christian
Florida Atlantic
(*Note: Aggies would like to establish one more home game on schedule)

2013 away games
New Mexico
(*Note: We understand Aggies could schedule sixth road game against BYU)

Five keys for Aggies vs. Louisiana Tech

Score, score, score some more: The Aggie offense looked better last week in the form of gameplan and scheme. But they couldn’t cash in, leaving two to three touchdowns on the field due to turnovers, penalties and missed passes — in a nutshell, a lack of execution against a good Utah State defense. Louisiana Tech gives up 38 points per game, struggling to stop opposing offenses throughout the year. The Aggies will have chances to put points on the board again Friday, and will have to against a high-octane Bulldogs team.

A balanced attack: In the case of Friday, a good offense will be a good defense. Control the ball and the clock and move the first-down chains, which would obviously be aided in the form of a good rushing attack. The Aggies haven’t had a balanced attack this season and haven’t been able to capitalize on the short-to-intermediate passing game. Both areas will have to be in effect Friday, if for nothing else to keep Louisiana Tech’s offense (which averages 56 points per game) off the field.

Slow them down: Can the Bulldogs offense be stopped? It hasn’t thus far. They looks like a team that could easily put up 60, 70 points tonight ((they scored 70 last week against Idaho, and haven’t been held under 40 points in a game all season). In the case of the Aggie defense: Get off the field on third downs and do whatever possible to hold Louisiana Tech to field goals instead of touchdowns. This is a Bulldogs team capable of getting into the end zone every time it touches the ball. Simply slowing them down would be a good starting point for Friday’s game.

Don’t lie down: At 1-6 on the season and getting battered virtually every week, the Aggies haven’t given up and continue to play hard on Saturdays. It’s late October, meaning over a month remains in the college football season. The goal at this point should be simple: Instead of worrying about wins and losses, continue to play hard on Saturdays and make improvements in all phases of the game.

A nationally-ranked program: This is an opportunity for people in Las Cruces to see the No. 24-ranked team in the country, highlighted by Louisiana Tech’s No. 1-ranked scoring offense. The Bulldogs are 30-point favorites coming into the game and just re-entered the national polls. A win for the home team will be a tall order — if possible at all — but it will be a chance to play, and for fans to see, a top team in the country.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Key players for Aggie basketball going into 2012-13

(Tyrone Watson was a smart, steady and tough player for the Aggies last year. An improved jump shot could improve his value as a go-to player in 2012-13/AP photo)

Wrote a story the other day about New Mexico State guard Daniel Mullings. To read all about it, click here.

Daniel is a key player on this year’s men’s basketball team, along with a handful of other 2012-13 Aggies. This is a team with a number of question marks on its roster, although not necessarily in a negative way. Here’s how I see it:

No one on this year’s team can come back as essentially the same player they were a season ago. In Daniel’s case, it’s an improved offensive game on the perimeter — jump shooting, free-throw shooting, ball handling. Athletically, on a scale of one to 10, Mullings checked in at a 10 last season. He was a difference maker defensively and was a tremendous player in the open court. If he gets his perimeter game down in the halfcourt offense, the sophomore has the potential to be a very special player at NMSU.

Two seniors also need to see improvements in certain aspects of their game.

I like what Tyrone Waton brings to the basketball team — a smart and tough player, a leader. He’s a good decision maker and under-rated passer. A steady and consistent contributor. Would it be nice if his jump shot was more effective this season? Absolutely. When defenders lay off him on the offensive end of the floor — which we saw often last year — he has to make them pay by knocking it down. This would also increase his value as a go-to player on the team.

Another, Bandja Sy, has tremendous physical ability and was an X-factor last year for the Aggies: when he was hitting the 3-point shot NMSU became a much tougher club to defend and he was a good defender during the season. Simply put, a more competitive Sy would mean a potentially dominant player. We hearken back to last year’s 83-78 overtime win at Fresno State when Sy scored 22 second-half points and pulled down five rebounds and think about the possibilities that could await him. Fair or unfair, if Sy took the court like Watson or last year’s senior Wendell McKines, we see a potential force.

No, we have not given up on Remi Barry. And, yes, we think Tshilidzi Nephawe (with his soft pair of hands and adequate free-throw shooting) could be an X-factor on the team. With a front-court of Nephawe and 7-foot-5 Sim Bhullar, along with 6-foot-11 B.J. West and Renaldo Dixon, the Aggies have startling size and potential skill to work with here. And we understand the shoes that must be filled at NMSU with the loss of McKines and last year’s steady point guard Hernst Laroche.

Yes, much is unknown about this year’s Aggie team. But the start of their season is also something to look forward to as we enter late fall and then winter.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, October 19, 2012

Walker clarifies, reafirms recent comments

New Mexico State head football coach DeWayne Walker made some interesting comments this week leading into Saturday’s Western Athletic Conference game at Utah State.

Walker was mostly impressed with USU’s ability and commitment toward building a mid-major football program. The UtAgs, at 5-2 this season, are 31-point favorites Saturday against NMSU.

Just four years ago, both teams had identical 3-9 records.

“Coach (Gary) Anderson and his staff have done a great job,” Walker said. “I think the other person who deserves credit is their AD (Athletics Director Scott Barnes) and the support that they’re giving that program. They definitely know what they’re doing and they’ve done a good job establishing one of the better teams, not only in the WAC conference, but one of the better mid-level teams in the country.”

Walker later added: “They’ve just done a very good job building that program. They have great resources. They’ve made a commitment to football. It’s pretty cool to see where they were and where they are.”

As a follow-up, Walker was asked more questions about the comments he made:

Sun-News: It sounded like some wishful commentary on your part.
DeWayne Walker: “Yeah. It’s obvious. … I’m just reiterating some things that I think are pretty obvious. I’m not going to sit up here and say that’s the reason (Utah State is) winning. Gary’s done a great job coaching along with their coaches. I just think with the blueprint when he got hired, along with Scott Barnes, it’s worked.”

SN: There was a plan in place?
DW: “There’s no question. Because Gary and the AD got hired at the same time. The AD, I think one of his strengths is raising money. I just found out, when he took over the job, they were, I think, (reportedly more than $2 million) in the red and now they’re $21 million in the black. So, I think that says something in his abilities and their abilities to raise money. … That has a lot to do with what’s going on, on the field. I just really believe that. I’m not trying to throw anybody under the bus. That’s not my intention. … Their university, their athletic department, they made a commitment: ‘We’re going to have a football program.’”

SN: They understand how it ties into the university and the importance of it?
DW: “This is what Utah State has decided to do with their football program. … I was asked about Utah State’s program; this is what they’ve done. This is what San Jose State’s done. This is what La. Tech’s done. This is what North Texas has done.”

SN: Utah State, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State — all were basically in the same spot as NMSU not long ago. What's enabled them to build that recent success?
DW: “It’s obviously a vision. Vision and dollars. Vision and dollars.” 

SN: Let’s say, DeWayne Walker was interviewing at a program like Texas-San Antonio — a first-year football program. The administration asks what you need. What do you tell them?
DW: “I’m an experienced head coach now. Now, being experienced, I would have done some research, I would have looked at my conference and I would have looked at the better teams in my conference and I would have said: ‘Budget-wise, fundraising-wise, facilities, what do they have?’ If I can have what they have, then I think it’s fair game. And I’ve said this already. I think it’s unfair for any head coach to be judged if he doesn’t have what his competitors have. You can. If you want to judge me for not doing more with less, OK. That’s fine. That’s OK. … I would tell any head coach, I think that’s something you have to pay attention to. You want to make sure you have the resources and things to be competitive.”

SN: What would you need here to have a championship-level program?
DW: “Where we are today, can we get all the things that these other schools have? Probably not. But I think, if you have the top four or five things that can help? Maybe salaries for the coaches; strength and conditioning program; where can we get fundraising dollars; facilities. There might be 10 things. And you might not get all 10 things at once. So let’s sit down, ‘OK, what is our vision?’ What are three or four things we can get done ASAP to start moving in that direction?”

Fast facts
Recent history: In 2009, Louisiana Tech (4-8 overall record), Utah State (4-8), NMSU (3-10) and San Jose State (2-10) finished with a combined 13-36 record. This year, Louisiana Tech (5-1), Utah State (5-2) and San Jose State (4-2) have a combined 14-5 record, while NMSU is in the WAC basement with a 1-5 record. The three aforementioned schools — discounting NMSU — will have conference homes next season, with Louisiana Tech headed to Conference USA and USU and SJSU off to the Mountain West Conference.

Coaching salaries: Let’s just look back to last year and compare Utah State to NMSU. In 2011, USU paid their offensive coordinator, Dave Baldwin, $157,500. NMSU paid offensive coordinator Doug Martin ($90,000) and defensive coordinator Dale Lindsey ($70,000) a combined total of $160,000. Utah State’s defensive and special teams coordinators combined to make $251,500, while the remaining Aggie assistant coaches (seven total) combined for $383,222. Anderson was recently given his second contract extension in as many years, which could pay him as much as $765,000 a year. That also included annual salary increases for his assistants. By contrast, the Aggies lost Martin to Boston College, and Lindsey, whose contract was not renewed. Also departing the NMSU program following last season were offensive line coach Jason Lenzmeier and defensive line coach Jesse Williams.

Projects: NMSU made football investments — many coming five to eight years ago. Upon entering the WAC, other improvements included: The Stan Fulton Athletics Center, in 2004, more than $6 million; a new video scoreboard, in 2007, a $1.5 million improvement; the Hall of Legends football meeting rooms, in 2007, an estimated $2.5 million addition; and football coaching offices, in 2009, at a cost of more than $1.5 million. But such moves have subsided during recent years. In the meantime Louisiana Tech announced in 2010 a $20 million fundraising plan geared toward building a 90,000 square-foot football-only facility at Joe Aillet Stadium; Utah State had a May 29 groundbreaking on a new $6.4 million strength and conditioning center; and San Jose State plans to have a new football-only facility ready for the 2013 season that could cost as much as $14 million. Substantial fundraising efforts contributed to many of these projects.

Saturday’s game
Who: NMSU (1-5, 0-2) at Utah State (5-2, 1-0)
What: WAC Football, Week 8
Where, When: Logan, Utah; 1 p.m.
Weather: Partly cloudy, temperatures in upper 60s
Spread: NMSU +31
Radio: KGRT-FM 104; Vista 98.7 (Spanish)
TV: AggieVision

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Teddy and Brook Show (10/18)

Sports duo take a look at NMSU at Utah State football, preview weekend high school football as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Louisiana Tech vs. Utah State: who’s better?

First off, both these college football teams have gotten remarkably better in recent years.

Louisiana Tech has been ranked in the Top-25 this year and played No. 20-ranked Texas A&M to a standstill last week (a 59-57 loss). Utah State is not far behind, standing at 5-2 on the season, fresh off a 49-27 win over San Jose State last weekend and are 30-point favorites this Saturday when New Mexico State visits Logan, Utah.

Of course there could be some unforeseen upsets along the way. We’re assuming both teams win down the stretch leading up to their Nov. 17 game in Ruston, La. And, if that’s the case, it should be a great game that could very well decide WAC supremacy.

But here’s why I lean towards Utah State right now: Because the UtAgs play defense. USU ranks No. 20 nationally in total defense (giving up just over 322-yards-per game) while Louisiana Tech ranks No. 119 (surrendering over 555-yards-per contest). Utah State is No. 14 in scoring defense (14.86 points per game) while Louisiana Tech is tied for 114th (39.67 per game).

Obviously the Bulldogs boast a prolific offense that’s been able to score on everybody they’ve faced (first in the nation averaging 53.83 points per game, ninth in the nation averaging 538.67 yards per game). So the challenge for USU will be keeping up with such proficiency.

New Mexico State will travel to face Utah State this weekend, then will host Louisiana Tech next Saturday. A chance for Aggie fans to see two real good teams in action.


Good story from Salt Lake Tribune writer Tony Jones on where Utah State and New Mexico State stand along the college football landscape — Two Aggie Football Teams, Two Different Directions.

NMSU head coach had some interesting — and similar — quotes in today’s Las Cruces Sun-News story, while we also touched on some of these issues in a recent blog post.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Recapping and forecasting the Aggies 2012 football season to this point and beyond

(Perris Scoggins and the Aggies were knocked out by Texas-San Antonio on Sept. 29. A tough first-half of the season sees the team sit at 1-5 during their bye weekend/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

The New Mexico State Aggies are 1-5, and currently enjoying their bye week during the college football season.

What can the team work on during its time off? Better yet, what do they not need to work on?

Punter Cayle Chapman-Brown has been a standout for NMSU in 2012. At the wide receiver position, Austin Franklin and Kemonte Bateman have been playmakers for the team. Other than that, the season's been a disappointment on a handful of number of levels.

And no, it's not necessarily about wins and losses at this point. The Aggies schedule gets considerably harder from here on out (games against WAC foes Utah State, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State will be tough; a big-money road game at Auburn and a home contest against a very solid BYU team also figure to be chief challenges). No, it's about making team improvements going forward.

A look at what the Aggies could do — or attempt to do — going into the season's second half.

Offensive line: This is a unit that lost three starters from a season ago (center Mike Grady, guard Sioeli Fakalata and tackle Aundre McGaskey) and its position coach (Jason Lenzmeier went to the University of New Mexico this past offseason).

That, and the running game hasn't been nearly as variant as last year, when the team had Matt Christian and Kenny Turner operating the speed option (such mobile pieces in the backfield and the ability to run misdirection helped the offensive line find its footing).

Simply put, without the above factors in service this year's offensive front has struggled.

The Aggies can't run the ball in 2012 (185 carries for 514 yards, a 2.8 yards per carry average) which has made them unbalanced; in turn, they have struggled protecting for drop-back quarterback Andrew Manley. False start penalties have also been in abundance this season, which just finished its sixth week.

What can be done to correct these issues? Good question.

The team is committed to Manley as its starter and, with that, the offensive scheme doesn't figure to change much: a deep-ball passing game and a north-south rushing attack should be the norm.

Head coach DeWayne Walker indicated there could be some personnel moves up front to try and jump-start things. That could work. But we'll continue to ask the question: Will New Mexico State ever have a dominant enough offensive line to block in a straight-ahead, between-the-tackles rushing offense? Opening up the offense and being creative in the running game might be the better alternative instead of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

Quarterbacks: Again, the team remains committed to Manley and that's their prerogative. In truth, the quarterback hasn't gotten enough help in the form of a running game (as mentioned above), pass protection and perhaps overall tutelage at the position. He's also a young player and still needs work in terms of reading defenses and pocket mobility.

With that, could the Aggies incorporate sophomore Travaughn Colwell more? One would think.

He's a player that could be featured on different levels of the offense — as a dual-threat quarterback, as a runner that can get outside the pocket and as an overall athlete with a quarterback's pedigree. Put in a package and give him a chance to showcase his running ability some more. He hasn't been bad in that particular role thus far.

For those clamoring for junior college transfer Andrew McDonald to get some snaps in the season's second half, don't hold your breath. Considering he hasn't played to this point despite the offense's struggles, it wouldn't seem likely he'll get a look down the stretch. An odd move for a 1-5 team that, frankly, should be turning over any stone possible for production.

Finding leadership and identity: Last year this team had some gritty locker-room leaders. We talked about the losses on the offensive line. Also at quarterback and running back (Christian and Turner), wide receiver (Taveon Rogers, Todd Lee) and defensively in the secondary (Donyae Coleman, Ben Bradley, Courtney Viney and Jonte Green). Aside from being good football players, this personnel also gave the Aggies a sense of identity, personality and purpose. Can this year's team develop that late in the season? It seems to have been lacking thus far.

Defensive adjustments: Last week the defense played better against a bad Idaho team. Still, it was an improvement — the unit played well enough for the Aggies to win.

A brand-new unit starting in the defensive backfield has had it's growing pains although safety Davis Cazares leads the WAC with 9.3 tackles per game.

Up front the Aggies blitzed more against the Vandals and it's something that's welcomed. Particularly with junior college transfer Trashaun Nixon, who's shown a knack for it.

Things don't figure to get any easier in the second half of the year when the Aggies play some high-powered offenses down the stretch.

By the numbers
10: Team turnovers for the Aggies over the past three games.

1.1: Average yards per punt return for NMSU — The Aggies have returned eight punts for nine yards this season. They've also had punt-return fumbles back-to-back weeks which killed any momentum generated in separate losses.

4: Assistant coaches that left NMSU during the offseason — both offensive and defensive coordinators, both line coaches. A key, key factor in NMSU's down 2012 season.

17: New starters across the board on the 2012 Aggie football team.

3: Field goal attempts for the Aggies through six games of the season, with Tyler Stampler making two of them.

1: Wins this season not just for the Aggies, but also for their Week 10 opponent Auburn. The Tigers, of the powerhouse Southeastern Conference, hold a 1-5 mark on the year. They host NMSU on Nov. 3.

14: Combined wins for the three top WAC schools remaining on the Aggies schedule. In turn, that trio (Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State) has combined for just four losses.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Prep work: Previewing District 3-5A football

(Las Cruces High quarterback Jonathan Joy had his eye on the end zone during this Sept. 28 game against La Cueva. The Bulldawgs won 28-14/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

It didn’t take long for the District 3-5A football season to come into view. League games kick off Friday night with Oñate hosting Las Cruces High at the Field of Dreams and Mayfield traveling to Gadsden High School for a road game.

A few things stood out from the first month of the season: Las Cruces High has the tools of a very good team, Mayfield hasn’t looked quite like Mayfield and the bottom of the league is improved from past years. What will it mean when the ball’s kicked off Friday and in the next five weeks of the season? We’ll try our best to forecast the District 3-5A race.

One-horse race?
Simply judging from the pre-district results, it appears this is Las Cruces High’s league to lose in 2012. The Bulldawgs have the talent of a state-championship team and looked impressive last weekend in their 54-27 win over Artesia. Where this puts them exactly in terms of a state title is unknown — in the single-elimination tournament, one bad matchup (or performance) can quickly determine a team’s downfall. As far as the District 3-5A race is concerned, however, the Bulldawgs look to be the necessary frontrunner.

Trojan standards
We’ve been saying it all year: This just doesn’t look like the same Mayfield Trojans football team we’re accustom to seeing. Always synonymous with being a sound club that perhaps over-punched on the playing field, the Trojans have been plagued this year by a lack of focus — penalties and turnovers to name a couple struggles. Still, we would figure them to be a top-two finisher in league play until things are proven otherwise.

Fight for third?
Every year there seemingly are two questions with District 3-5A football at the forefront: Who’s finishing first (either Las Cruces High or Mayfield) and who’s coming in third (between Oñate, Alamogordo and Gadsden). Again, at the moment things don’t appear substantially different this season. One piece of mind for the third place team is they could be a state playoff qualifier in 2012. The Knights and Panthers are both 3-3 and could sneak up on some people in league play. Surely it would be nice to see one of these three teams make a push to the upper-half of divisional play, if for nothing else than simply competitive balance.

Intriguing matchups
Obviously Las Cruces High vs. Mayfield on Nov. 9 always supplies intrigue. But what about the Gadsden’s 3-3 record? The Panthers have shown they can compete with average teams in the state, so what will that mean when they square off against Oñate (Oct. 19) and Alamogordo (Oct. 26)? And, while the Knights has shown some improvement this year, how much better are they? The team’s Oct. 26 game against Mayfield could be an interesting litmus test for both clubs.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

CSU Bakersfield, Utah Valley added to WAC

It wasn’t a surprise, nor was it a revelation.

California State University Bakersfield and Utah Valley University added to the Western Athletic Conference as non-football members was a long time coming — when conference expansion was first discussed and the WAC was looking to add schools, these two were brought up almost immediately.

Obviously for the WAC it was necessary additions. The league now has a shot at keeping its automatic qualifying bids into NCAA Tournaments.

For a full story on their inclusion, click here.

And, for a list of NCAA AQ requirements for non-football sports, see below:

• Men’s basketball: Requires seven members to retain bid. Will allow WAC two-year waiver period at six schools before league has to reach seven for 2015-16. League currently stands at six, assuming Idaho stays on board.
• Women’s basketball: Requires six members to retain bid, which league currently stands at.
• Volleyball: Requires six members to retain bid, which league currently stands at.
• Baseball: Requires six members to retain bid. Will allow WAC two-year waiver period at five schools before league has to reach six for 2016. Idaho and Denver do not have baseball programs. This year league will have affiliate members CSU Bakersfield and Dallas Baptist (before Dallas Baptist joins Missouri Valley Conference in 2014). The 2014 membership will consist of NMSU, Seattle, CSU Bakersfield (full-time member), Utah Valley and Sacramento State (affiliate member).
• Softball: Requires six members to retain bid. Will allow WAC a two-year waiver period at five schools before league has to get six for 2016. Idaho and Denver do not have softball programs. League would consist of NMSU, CSU Bakersfield, Utah Valley, Seattle. Need to add another for 2014 season to reach NCAA requirements.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to build a football program

For those who missed it, Utah State University just signed head coach Gary Anderson to his second contract extension in as many years. The move will keep the head coach at the school through 2018, and could pay him up to $765,000 annually. For a full press release on Anderson’s extension, click here.

Just as telling is the extension calls for salary increases for all of Anderson’s assistant coaches.

“This contract will also help us retain quality assistant coaches, which is a very important step as we move forward and into the Mountain West Conference,” Anderson said in the school’s release.

Just some recent history: Utah State hired Anderson the same year New Mexico State hired DeWayne Walker. Both programs were in the same position when the hires were made — flat on their backs. Utah State is really in no different scenario than NMSU — the two have long been conference rivals, and are geographically isolated.

But Utah State made a financial commitment to its football program. Again, look no further than Anderson’s extensions and further compensation for his assistants. Last year, Utah State paid its top-three assitant coaches $157,500 (Dave Baldwin), $151,500 Bill Busch) and $100,000 (Matt Wells). The Aggies top-three assistants made $90,000 (Doug Martin), $70,000 (Dale Lindsey) and $60,970 (R. Todd Littlejohn). The UtAgs have 19 assistant coaches currently listed on its school website. The New Mexico State Aggies have 15.

Meanwhile, the Aggies have had four offensive coordinators in four years and had to hire four new assistant coaches this offseason — new offensive coordinator, new defensive coordinator and new assistants to coach the offensive and defensive lines.

Some of last year’s coaches left because of better job opportunities (offensive coordinator Martin to Boston College, offensive line coach Jason Lenzemeier to UNM) and some were shown the door (defensive coordinator Lindsey who now works at University of San Diego, defensive line coach Jesse Williams who’s now at Ohio). All are missed in some form or fashion, particularly the two coordinators who were very experienced.

Really want to know what’s killing Aggie football this year? Look no further than this type of turnover on the coaching staff.

No matter what happens with Aggie football in the coming years — no matter the president of the school, the athletics director leading the charge or the head coach of the team — NMSU needs to decide if they’re willing to appropriately fund its football program on the Division I level. If not, then drop it down. If you nickel and dime the product, you’ll get nickel and dime results. It's that simple.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (10/4)

LCSN duo talk Aggie football going to Idaho, and take a look at the high school gridiron.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Judging Couture's departure, and its impact

How will president Barbara Couture’s departure impact New Mexico State athletics?

We do know this: the president of the school plays a huge role upon its athletics department. To find out, look no further than Couture herself. She’s been subject to the brunt of criticism in conference realignment, and rightfully so. She’s the leader of the school, the face of the institution and must network as such. Simply read this quote from Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson, who held the same position with the Western Athletic Conference for nearly two decades before leaving in February. Just for clarification, Couture is also chair of the WAC:

“It was interesting timing,” Benson recalled in terms of when NMSU became a WAC member in 2005. “New Mexico State had a new athletics director in McKinley Boston and a new president in Mike Martin. Those two took advantage of their membership in the WAC to build New Mexico State's program ... Corporate support, donor support ... New Mexico State left the Sun Belt for the WAC and obviously (at the time) the WAC was a more valuable entity than the Sun Belt ... Now I'm in the Sun Belt and New Mexico State is hanging onto what's left of the WAC.”

Translation: With Martin and Boston as a team, NMSU was an appealing entity for an athletics conference looking to add pieces. Bear in mind, Martin is gone and Couture took his place. And NMSU is, as a painful reminder, without a stable home in the conference race. In reality, the Aggies were more attractive then than they are now, and that’s for a number of reasons, not just the presidential seat.

But does Couture’s departure have something to do with the Aggies clouded athletics future? It would be naive to say it doesn’t. Of course an athletics department is a microcosm of a university, not the other way around. With that being said, it remains the front-porch of the school in many ways, and when there’s holes in the porch, the roof is caving in and the floor boards are rotting, it doesn’t reflect well on the institution.

Does Couture leaving guarantee athletics safety? Far from it. Lets not forget there’s a board of regents that ultimately makes the call on what direction they want the school to go in, and who they bring in to fulfill that vision.

A new president will take over and immediately look at the situation: Does New Mexico State have the resources available to play Division I football? Would the school be better off as an FCS-playing member? And who do they want as athletics director to lead that charge? The answers to such questions will ultimately determine what direction the Aggie athletics department goes, not just a changing of the guard all together.

It’s a scary time. A down time. Another thing change can provide: hope, something that hasn’t been available in some time. Even if such an emotion proves fleeting, and is unpredictable.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg