Monday, December 31, 2012

Aggie offensive line coach Bedell hired at Arkansas State

The New Mexico State Aggies will be looking for a new offensive line coach, as Brad Bedell has left the football program for Arkansas State University.

Arkansas State made an official announcement of Bedell's hire on its website Monday.

Bedell spent one year at NMSU, replacing Jason Lenzmeier, who left last offseason for the University of New Mexico.

Prior to NMSU, Bedell was the offensive line coach at UC Davis in 2011. He played at the University of Colorado from 1998-99 and then briefly in the NFL.

As stated previously, more changes on the NMSU staff could be in store. According to sources in recent weeks, such moves could be made specifically at offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator. Nothing official yet, but we'll keep you posted.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sports Year in Review: Conference realignment and NMSU timeline

It was a busy year in Las Cruces sports. There were plenty of champions, success stories, some failures and everything in between.

The biggest ongoing story, though? Clearly conference realignment and how it affected the Aggies, who were adversely hit throughout the entire process.

In short: The Aggies entered the 2012 year hopeful a new Western Athletic Conference could be an up-and-coming league for the years to come. With the 2013 campaign on the horizon, the WAC is now a defunct football conference (NMSU will play an independent football schedule next year) and it's non-football sports affiliations are a shell of their former selves.

Here's a timeline of events that took place throughout the past year as it pertains to the realignment rat race, and how it impacted NMSU. Simply because a 25-inch story on the topic wouldn't have done justice:

Feb. 15: With speculation swirling of a possible merger of the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA, New Mexico State Athletics Director McKinley Boston says the Aggies could be a part of such an agreement, adding if other schools are taken from the Western Athletic Conference, NMSU has a plan to counteract.

Feb. 23: WAC Commissioner Karl Benson leaves for the Sun Belt Conference.

March 9: WAC names Jeff Hurd as Interim Commissioner.

April 30: Reports surface that WAC schools Utah State and San Jose State will leave for the Mountain West; Louisiana Tech will head to Conference USA; and Texas-San Antonio will join Conference USA. Such moves (which did in fact happen) would in turn cripple the Western Athletic Conference as a football entity.

May 2: Another WAC school, Texas State, leaves for the Sun Belt Conference. The move leaves New Mexico State and Idaho as the only football-playing entities in the Western Athletic Conference.

May 7: Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson says further Sun Belt expansion, and in turn New Mexico State's inclusion, "hasn't even been discusses."

May 8: NMSU President Barbara Couture (who was also Chair of the WAC) says school's primary goal is to a member of the Mountain West, adding the school never had a face-to-face presentation with the MWC.

May 23: Sun Belt welcomes in Texas-Arlington, a non-football school from the Western Athletic Conference. Meanwhile, Benson said the announcement "allows Idaho and New Mexico State to know what direction the Sun Belt is headed. Personally, I wish the best for the University of Idaho and New Mexico State."

June 13: University of New Mexico Athletics Director Paul Krebs says while Lobos would support an Aggies move into the Mountain West, "there's not a lot of support from the other members of the league to have New Mexico State come in."

July 25: Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson tells reporters that he informed New Mexico State "that they will not be members of the Mountain West. Go on with Plan B, whatever Plan B may be."

Aug. 16: The University of Idaho seeks permission to possibly seek membership in the Big Sky Conference. As of today, Idaho is still a WAC member, although could be move to the Big Sky in the future.

Aug. 20: Long a foregone conclusion, NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston declares Aggies football independence for the 2013 season.

Sept. 12: NMSU administration sends letter to fans updating its conference standing. In summation, NMSU addressed its media market, its plan going forward, its commitment to Division I football, its student-athletes academic accomplishments and the need for continued support from Las Cruces.

Oct. 1: Barbara Couture ousted as President of New Mexico State University.

Oct. 9: WAC adds California State University Bakersfield and Utah Valley to non-football membership.

Nov. 26: WAC non-football member Denver leaves for Horizon League.

Nov. 27: In turn, the conference adds Grand Canyon University as non-football member. Grand Canyon is a Division II institution in Phoenix, Ariz.

Nov. 29: With league also in flux, Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson revisits possible league expansion once again: "We haven't had that conversation yet," he said. "One of our primary goals has been to maintain a tighter geography. But this is a new set of circumstances."

Nov. 1: A once-proud football league ends with whimper, as New Mexico State and Texas State play in the last WAC football game. Texas State won big, 66-28, over the visiting Aggies.

Dec. 5: The WAC continues to add faceless programs, as Chicago State becomes the next non-football member.

Dec. 12: One final addition to the WAC: Northern Colorado as a baseball affiliate.

For more Year in Review coverage from throughout Las Cruces, click here

Sports Year in Review: Memorable high school team performances in 2012

We take a look back at some teams that made an impact on the high school playing fields in 2012:

Santa Teresa boys basketball
Long an overlooked basketball team, the Desert Warriors won the Class 4A state championship a season ago with a 58-43 win over Gallup at The Pit in Albuquerque. The Desert Warriors entered the tournament undervalued - a well-coached team under veteran Bob Haack, Santa Teresa was seeded No. 7 and anchored by District 3-4A Player of the Year Adrian Ortegon. They opened postseason play with a 46-32 win over No. 11 Atrisco Heritage and then beat No. 2 Roswell 65-48 at The Pit. Then came the win over Gallup, which brought a raucous contingency to Albuquerque for the game only to see the Desert Warriors play the role of spoiler.

Chaparral boys soccer
Seeded No. 2 in the Class 4A soccer bracket, the Chaparral Lobos didn't disappoint, going the distance to capture the state championship. The Lobos beat Farmington 1-0 in the title game, played in Albuquerque this past November. Senior Adrian Cosio scored the game-winning goal in the contest, assisted by fellow seniors Enrique Martinez and Edgar Lopez. In total, Chaparral had 12 seniors on its state-championship roster. It was the first state title captured by the school, now in its seventh year of existence.

Gadsden football
At some schools, finishing the football season with a 5-5 record is considered fairly pedestrian, at others a disappointment. But at Gadsden High School? Such a performance is a standout effort. Coming off a winless season and recording just five combined wins for all of 2008, the Panthers broke even and head coach Roy Gerela was named South Coach of the Year. The Panthers won their season opener, 34-33 over Hobbs, before beating fellow south county rivals Chaparral and Santa Teresa by a combined score of 90-30. Once in District 3-5A play, the Panthers captured victories over Oñate and Alamogordo.

Las Cruces High soccer
While the Bulldawgs had a solid year on the soccer field and captured the District 3-5A championship, it was the ending of their season that garnered some attention, and controversy. Facing No. 1-seed Eldorado in the Class 5A State Tournament semifinals, the Bulldawgs lost 1-0 on a rebound off a corner kick in the 80th minute. In short, the Bulldawgs protested vociferously that an Eagles player was offsides on the play, yet to no avail as the game quickly ended and LCHS's state-title hopes were dashed. Things became so heated in the aftermath that Albuquerque Public Schools police came onto the field and even threatened to arrest coaches before clearing the field. The team was eventually escorted off, albeit with a bitter taste in its mouth.

Las Cruces High boys basketball
A very talented team, the Bulldawgs showed flashes of being a state-championship team in 2012. A versatile club, they finished the regular-season ranked No. 1 in the state, finished District 3-5A play with a 9-0 record and have a handful of other impressive wins on their resume during the year. The opening round of the state playoffs saw the Bulldawgs absolutely blow out Rio Rancho at LCHS. But in the state quarterfinals the team hit a roadblock, losing to No. 8 Clovis 69-58 in Albuquerque. It was an early-morning tipoff and an oddly-officiated contest, with many whistles being blown both ways and Bulldawgs point guard Joseph Garza - a key piece to the team's success - plagued with foul trouble. Clovis' John Dawson finished with a game-high 23 points, including some dagger 3-pointers in the second half.

Sports Year in Review: Faces, footnotes and accomplishments in Las Cruces

We take a look at some personalities that made an impact on the 2012 Las Cruces sports year:

Jim Bradley: This New Mexico football-coaching legend had his health troubles in 2012. After suffering a heart attack in November of 2011, Bradley had a stroke last January that kept him in the hospital and rehabilitation center until August. Shortly after being released, Bradley suffered another stroke, as his health troubles continued to persist. Typical Bradley, he continues to fight on, although this past year was the first since 1994 that he wasn't on the Mayfield sidelines, guiding the Trojans to victory.

Bob Ogas: Another classic sports personality who's made his mark in Las Cruces, like Bradley, Ogas suffered a stroke earlier this year. He was able to recover, and was later elected to the New Mexico High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor last August. The 71-year-old Ogas' legacy will be that of longevity - a standout baseball coach, athletics director and eventual principal at Mayfield High School. He also had a longtime standing as an NMAA administrator and representative.

Jim Miller: In his 15th year as head football coach at Las Cruces High, Miller won his fifth state championship and is now 5-0 in such games. Miller's now won titles in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2008 and 2012. Miller told the Sun-News last week that he currently plans to coach three more years as his son Kameron plays his high school career at LCHS.

Letticia Martinez: A blind swimmer and student at Las Cruces High School, Martinez competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London this past September. Martinez competed in the S11 Division as fully blind swimmer, taking the pool in the 50-meter (Sept. 1, fourth in her heat) and 100-meter freestyles (Aug. 31, fifth in her heat), 100-meter backstroke (Sept. 2, sixth in her heat), 100-meter breaststroke (Sept. 3, last in the finals) and 200-meter individual medley (Sept. 8, third in her heat).

Brad Harlan: The original Pistol Pete at New Mexico State University, Harlan passed away last February from cancer at the age of 56. Beginning with a crimson shirt and jeans, a white vest and a fake mustache, Harlan made his debut as the longtime NMSU mascot in 1973 at an Aggie football game and Pistol Pete's overall theme, by and large, has stuck. A number of different Aggies have worn the outfit and, unlike other college sports mascots hidden behind a large foam-rubber head, each person has brought their own unique qualities to the character of Pistol Pete. It has long been a part of Aggie lore, and Harlan was the first to do it.

Kelsey Crooks: A former Oñate High School standout and New Mexico State basketball player, Crooks passed away this past August at the age of 31. Crooks was a star athlete at Oñate, setting many basketball records at the school, before playing at his hometown college from 1999 to 2004. At 26 years old he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but later it was determined to be something else. Ultimately, Crooks passed away of a long illness.

Courtney Schultz: Coming off one of the best seasons of any cross country runner in New Mexico State history, Schultz will finish her career as one of the most decorated athletes ever to run in the Aggie cross country program. She was named Western Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week on three different occasions during the 2012 season. She finished second overall at the WAC Championships in Ruston, La. and 59th at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. Schultz has been named to first-team All-WAC all four years at NMSU and was named WAC Freshman of the Year in 2009. She was WAC Athlete of the Year for three-straight years, spanning 2009-11.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, December 28, 2012

Aggie men's basketball enters WAC play as likely favorites

The New Mexico State Aggie men's basketball team enters Western Athletic Conference play this weekend as likely favorites to contend for a league championship.

Yes, NMSU is 6-6 and has no marquee wins to speak of. But the WAC gets progressively worse with each passing season and NMSU typically challenges, and some years wins, league titles.

Physically the Aggies should hold an edge in the WAC — size, strength and athleticism. And they've shown a penchant to overpower undersized teams (and such opponents should be prominent on the WAC schedule). The WAC preseason rankings had the Aggies picked to finish first in the coaches poll and second in the media poll.

NMSU opens WAC play this weekend with a road game at Texas-Arlington on Saturday and then another road game at Louisiana Tech on Monday. Per usual, they should be in the top-half of the league standings and playing for something in March.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (12/27)

LCSN duo look back at the past year in Las Cruces sports, and talk about what the biggest stories were in the community:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On break

My apologies for the lack of posts in recent days. I am actually on a brief holiday break and will not return until the middle of this week. Feel free to comment on respective posts, I will be updating from afar.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Aggie football beat: Possible changes to coaching staff?

The Cruces Sports Blog is hearing of some possible coaching-staff changes coming within the Aggie football program.

If such is true, one would figure a new offensive coordinator could be coming on board in the not-to-distant future. Yes, it would make the fifth change at NMSU’s offensive coordinator post in five years (six if you count Hal Mumme’s last year as head coach at the school) but also not far-fetched to reason.

The reality is that the Aggie offense didn’t go anywhere under last year’s coordinator Jerry McManus. For McManus, it was his first time holding such a position — a veteran coach, yes, but a first-year offensive coordinator. After scoring 49 points in a Week 1 win against Sacramento State, NMSU averaged just under 16 points per game the rest of the way.

If such a change is made, expect the Aggies to give Doug Martin a long look to take back over. Martin coached the offense to a respectable level two years ago when the Aggies had a competitive 4-9 season under head coach DeWayne Walker (who still hasn't gone anywhere, by the way). Martin left this past offseason for a better offer from Boston College, but BC did not retain head coach Frank Spaziani after this year, making Martin a possible free agent once again.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

WAC adds Texas-Pan American

(Official press release from the Western Athletic Conference)

The Western Athletic Conference announced that The University of Texas-Pan American has accepted an invitation for membership to join the conference, effective July 1, 2013.

Texas-Pan American becomes the eighth member of the conference in 2013-14, joining New Mexico State University; University of Idaho; California State University, Bakersfield; Chicago State University; Grand Canyon University; Seattle University; and Utah Valley University.

“The addition of The University of Texas-Pan American adds another important piece to the rebuilding of the Western Athletic Conference,” said WAC Interim Commissioner Jeff Hurd. “UTPA brings a program with 60 years of history and success, and we look forward to the Broncs competing at a high level in the WAC.”

UTPA will bring all 14 of its sports – baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track & field, and volleyball – to the WAC and will begin competition with the upcoming 2013-14 season.

“This is a defining moment in the history of UTPA Athletics, and it has been a long time coming,” UTPA Director of Athletics Chris King said. “We have been working hard for the last few years to transform this department into one that is no longer content with simply being at the Division I level, but instead has a strong group of student-athletes and coaches who can help us compete for championships while excelling in the classroom and the community. This is another step in that transformation process. Aligning ourselves with a nationally recognized and well-branded conference such as the WAC will allow us to gain national exposure for both UTPA and the entire Rio Grande Valley.”

Located in Edinburg, Texas and the Rio Grande Valley, UTPA’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics competes at the NCAA Division I level. UTPA, formerly known as Pan American College and Pan American University, is a part of the University of Texas System of Schools.

The Broncs have won six team national championships, including the 1963 NAIA Championship in men’s basketball and every NAIA Championship in men’s tennis from 1961 through 1965. The baseball team has seen the most success at the NCAA Division I level, reaching the NCAA Tournament 13 times, including an appearance in the 1971 College World Series.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Aggies hope to reverse trends in rematch with Lobos

(The Aggies could use a bounce-back performance Wednesday from Bandja Sy/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

When breaking down last Saturday’s Aggies vs. Lobos men’s basketball box score, the reasons NMSU lost 73-58 are obvious: The team’s two seniors, Bandja Sy (2 for 14 shooting effort) and Tyrone Watson (0 for 5) combined for a 2 for 19 shooting night from the floor; the Lobos hit 26 of 35 free-throw attempts; and UNM also drilled 7 of 13 3-point shots.

Can the Aggies get a better performance from their seniors on their home floor? One would hope. Just getting a 50-percent shooting effort from the combo would have led to a much closer game, perhaps even an Aggie victory. These are two players the team counts on in such a tough road affair, and those numbers alone (particularly Sy’s 2 for 14 effort) are a big reason the Aggies fell.

UNM’s game is to get to the free-throw line, and they hit 10 more from the charity stripe than the Aggies (NMSU hit 16 of 19 attempts). Perhaps there will be better balance in the Pan American Center.

In terms of the Lobos hitting 53 percent of their 3-point attempts, either they were red-hot or wide open. During their Tuesday press conference, the Aggies indicated they gave up open looks and need to do a better job defending the 3-point line.

Again, one would think (or at least hope) the seniors perform better on Wednesday at the Pan Am. Perhaps the other stats will balance out as well to form a competitive rivalry game, and one the Aggies can possibly win. Even if the Lobos have a fine team once again under head coach Steve Alford.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Monday, December 17, 2012

Football recruiting: Going locally, and beyond

When the New Mexico State Aggies wrap up a tough football season, the question becomes, why doesn’t the team look more in-state for its football talent?

These cries become inherently louder when locally there’s high school football success, and such was the case once again this year when Las Cruces High won yet another state championship two weeks ago.

Again, after a year such as last, these complaints could have validity. What’s the difference between a 5-foot-9 athlete that runs a mediocre 40-yard dash time, whether he’s coming from California or New Mexico?

At a school like NMSU, where coaches, administrators and the athletics department as a whole are asked to do more with less, combing the state for any conceivable football talent would seem a good idea. We go back to the Rocky Long era at the University of New Mexico, where he would bulk up his roster with New Mexico athletes and have relative success doing so.

Some received scholarships, some were walk-ons. Some became standouts (Brian Urlacher, Hank Baskett) some were just contributors and others were roster fillers. But it’s about taking what you have and working under those circumstances. There could be some immediate resources nearby that can help, yet are being overlooked or thought over.

Is it the ticket to football prominence? Perhaps it’s a step towards that goal, although believing it’s the means to an end would appear wishful.

Expanding the Aggies recruiting footprint would also seem important. The days of looking into two states for football talent — California and Texas — seems dated, and has also proven not to work at NMSU. Newsflash: The Aggies aren’t winning with such a strategy.

More of a national recruiting philosophy, where going to different areas of the country and attracting different players is a very appealing idea on the surface. Two of the Aggies best linemen in recent memory didn’t come from California or Texas. No, Tony Wragge and Nick Cole both hailed from the midwest, and were great players at NMSU before moving onto the NFL ranks.

Of course, such a philosophy takes connections and resources that might not be readily available, yet also seem important.

Alas, whether you’re recruiting at the school down the road, or seven states away, quality recruiting is ultimately the lifeblood of a program. Forget following a website and chasing names that appear to be sought after by various competitors. It’s about having quality connections, and possessing an eye for talent that may be overlooked, yet can work within your model.

Generally speaking for Aggie football, the team’s OK from a starting-lineup standpoint. Yes, these players can typically hold their own against the competition. It’s about the players after them on the roster — developing quality depth — that makes a football team one to be reckoned with over the long haul. The Aggies had six players make the All-WAC team this past year — a high number coming from a 1-11 club. They need a few more to build off that base, and have to find a way to get them any way possible.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Friday, December 14, 2012

Video: Teddy and Brook Show (12/13)

The Las Cruces Sun-News duo talks Las Cruces High's state football championship, DeWayne Walker's future and Aggies playing Lobos in rivalry basketball game:

Weekly Aggie sports podcast

This week, we sit down with and talk about DeWayne Walker's future and New Mexico State men's basketball game at New Mexico. Click here for our weekly podcast.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Austin Franklin named All American honorable mention by

(Austin Franklin runs upfield against UTEP in a mid-September game at the Sun Bowl. Franklin recorded over 1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns for the Aggies in 2012/Photo courtesy of NMSU athletics)

New Mexico State wide receiver Austin Franklin was named an Honorable Mention All-American.

Franklin, a sophomore from Dallas, Texas, had one of the best seasons for a wide receiver in school history and is now the 13th Aggie to earn All-American honors.

“It feels good to be honored as an All-American,” Franklin said. “I just want to take God, my friends, my family, my teammates and coaches for all the support.”

“I think this is great for Austin,” head coach DeWayne Walker said. “You could see him mature not only as a football player but as a person this season. These types of accolades are not only good for Austin but good for our program, showing that we are recruiting the right players and are continuing to grow.”

Franklin led the Aggie receiving corps in 2012 with 74 catches for 1,245 yards, averaging 103.8 yards receiving a game and 6.17 catches a contest. He also ranked eighth in the nation in receiving yards per game and 33rd in catches per game.

Franklin was second in the Western Athletic Conference in receiving yards per game, catches per game and all-purpose yards per game. His season numbers rank as the third-most receiving yards in a single season in school history.

Franklin eclipsed 100-yards receiving seven times this year and 200 yards once. He had a team-high nine touchdowns and was named a Biletnikoff semifinalist.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Links: Las Cruces High wins state football championship

As I'm sure most know, Las Cruces High won the Class 5A State Football Championship last weekend in Albuquerque, a 35-28 victory over Sandia. The Sun-News was present and had a story and photos from the game (which can be viewed by clicking here). Just as important though was a series of videos shot immediately following the contest, which can be viewed by clicking here. Enjoy.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

What happend to Aggie football, and what can be done to fix it

(The following piece appeared in Sunday's Las Cruces Sun-News. For our online edition, as well as another weekend story on head coach DeWayne Walker's future at the program, click here.)

There are a number of descriptions for this year’s New Mexico State football season: An unmitigated disaster; one of severe disappointment; one of severe depression. All would suffice.

Talk going into the year was of possible postseason play and a bowl berth. What followed was a 1-11 campaign that saw the Aggies win their first game and remain uncompetitive in every other.

How did it happen, and why? A look back at the Aggies 2012 football season:

How it unfolded

What was overlooked by those who declared NMSU’s 2012 year as one of promise: The loss of key players on both sides of the ball — quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive secondary to name a few key position groupings.

Also, the departure of four assistant coaches, none more glaring than offensive coordinator Doug Martin, a good addition to the Aggies staff last year who got an immediate promotion to Boston College during the offseason (ironically, BC’s head coach Frank Spaziani was relieved of his duties last week, making Martin a possible free agent once again).

In came Jerry McManus, and the Aggie offense never truly got off the ground. Aside from Austin Franklin (who had an impressive year at wide receiver), weapons in the passing game — talented targets such as Kemonte Bateman and Trevor Walls — didn’t hit full potential in terms of production. A run-based offense was, for the most part, grounded (even if mid-year starter Germi Morrison ran tough to provide a bright spot).

The quarterback unit was a microcosm of the year. Starter Andrew Manley never showed real progress — the ability to check down or throw in the short to intermediate passing zones — while sophomore backup Travaughn Colwell played some yet seldom threw (13 pass attempts compared to 31 rushes). Junior college transfer Andrew McDonald came to town only to never see the field (excluding three passes late in a blowout loss at Ohio). Odd, considering he came in as a possible competitor, only to never get a shot at a position of struggle.

Defensively, no need to pretend things were much better. There were lowlights — giving up 20 first-quarter points to UTEP, a defunct gameplan against New Mexico’s option attack — and some positive moments — 28 total points surrendered against high-powered Louisiana Tech and an improved secondary over the season’s duration.

But the final results speak for themselves: 39 points per game surrendered along with 476 yards. Just 11 sacks and nine turnovers forced during the year.

What needs to be done

The first question that must be addressed: Is head coach DeWayne Walker returning to NMSU for his fifth year at the school? The reality is that Walker’s experience here has been a difficult one, while his 10-40 career record is an eyesore and also tough to judge on its own merits.

There have been things surrounding Walker’s tenure that have been positive: The belief that he runs a good program while having good people — players and coaches — a part of it; the team, outside of a week or two during this past season, played hard; attitude and preparation still seemed to be a part of its weekly routine.

What wasn't in place was a passable offense, which has been the case three of the past four years. When there was one, the Aggies finished 4-9 in 2011, could have easily gone 6-7 and there were rays of hope in improvement (which is really all most Aggie fans want at this point anyway). When one hasn't been present, the outfit has struggled simply being competitive.

The point is this: If Walker comes back next year, he needs a good offensive coordinator, because that side of the ball simply isn't his forte. In this era of college football, teams aren’t winning many games 7-6, 14-10 and 17-13. The Aggies aren't, anyway (instead, they're losing by scores closer to 50-14).

Walker talked this year about — really, throughout the past three years he’s addressed — the need for more resources within the program. This has been honest commentary from a frustrated coach. At the end of the day, there also seems to be validity to these statements (Aggie competitors Utah State and San Jose State didn't get better simply because of a resurgence in coaching. These schools have invested money into their programs in recent years, and big-time results have followed).

Walker’s pointed to two areas in which he wants to see an uptick: His team's strength and conditioning program and in recruiting. No doubt important areas of emphasis, but may we add a third?

Get funds for assistant coaches, and hire an offensive coordinator for $150,000 to $200,000 (more the going rate, and well above what the Aggies are paying now). This will mark the fifth coordinator the school's had in five years (a mind-blowing number, which goes directly back to its on-field struggles) but could also attract a proven coach who might stick around for longer than eight months.

Get the unit up to at least an adequate level. We're not suggesting the Aggie defense was remotely close to such a clip in 2012, but maybe with an offense that could move the chains and have some variation in its game, NMSU’s defense could perform at a slightly higher level as well. In turn, you'd have a more adequate team, something the 2012 Aggies were not.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Walker: No interview, contact with Cal

Spoke with DeWayne Walker today, who's name has popped up as a possible candidate for the defensive coordinator position at California. Sonny Dykes was introduced as Cal's new head coach on Wednesday.

The speculation makes sense to some degree.

Walker, who just completed his fourth year at NMSU, used to coach against Dykes when the two were assistants in the Pacific 10 Conference and then as opposing head coach’s in the Western Athletic Conference.

With experience as a defensive coordinator at both UCLA and USC, Walker has a history in the newly-formed Pac 12 and is well connected in California.

Walker finished this year with a 1-11 record (he has a 10-40 record during his tenure at NMSU). While he has four years remaining on his contract after signing an extension this past offseason, Walker has often talked of the lack of resources surrounding the Aggie program.

When contacted by phone on Thursday, Walker said he has not been interviewed for the Cal job nor has he been contacted by the school.

“My main concern is, what do we have to do to make football a priority as a group (at New Mexico State),” he said. “That’s my main concern: What are we doing?”

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

What to watch: Friday's LCHS vs. Sandia state championship game

(Bullldawgs quarterback Jonathan Joy continues to run a flawless offense. Las Cruces High needs such a performance for just one more game/Photo courtesy of the Albuquerque Journal)

It’s seemed like a foregone conclusion for much of the year: The Las Cruces Bulldawgs playing for the 2012 State Football Championship in early December.

This is a talented team that’s hit it’s stride during the past month of the season.

Their final test awaits tonight: Taking down Sandia in Albuquerque. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Wilson Stadium between the No. 2-ranked Bulldawgs and No. 4-ranked Matadors.

Below is a breakdown of the game, and what to watch for heading into tonight’s contest:

• Bring your lunch pail: For all intents and purposes, Las Cruces High is the favorites going into tonight’s game. Their talent notwithstanding, the Bulldawgs have simply been on fire of late and haven’t had a particularly tough path to the state championship game to this point — facing No. 7 Clovis in the opening round, No. 11 Eldorado last weekend and now No. 4 Sandia. The Bulldawgs simply need to take the field with a healthy dosage of respect for the competition and be willing to do the dirty work as if they are the underdog at kickoff. If they play a straight-up, nose-to-nose football game for four quarters, that alone should give them a definitive edge in the contest.

• Mistake free: At this point, the only conceivable way the Bulldawgs slow down tonight is if they get in their own way. Last week against Eldorado, LCHS was a well-oiled machine, only stumbling when they tripped themselves in the form of penalties. Sandia will need to force some LCHS turnovers to have any chance in this one — a required plus-two or plus-three in turnover ratio for the Matadors seems necessary in order for Sandia to compete at a high level.

• Defensive gameplan: Last week the Bulldawgs played your classic bend-but-don’t-break scheme. As opposed to the man-to-man coverage in its secondary many have become accustomed to, LCHS played predominantly a deep zone against Eldorado — it also worked for a secondary that’s struggled containing the pass throughout the year. One would think the Las Cruces High defense will deploy a similar gameplan today against Sandia: Rely on the defensive line to stop the run and keep opposing wide receivers in front of the defensive backfield’s coverage.

• Sandia’s scoring prowess: With Las Cruces High’s offense locked in during recent weeks, one would think the Matadors will have to keep up in a track meet tonight. Do they have the weapons? The Matadors will throw the football out of a spread offense with quarterback Craig Coffman at the controls. They do have some athletes on their roster and size on their offensive and defensive lines (even if they’re still smaller than the physical Bulldawgs up front). Simply put, they’ll need to make less mistakes than Las Cruces High and capitalize on virtually every offensive opportunity they get.

• On a roll: Ever since a 42-21 loss to No. 1-ranked Rio Rancho on Sept. 21, the Bulldawgs have been red-hot. Since then the following final scores have taken place in favor of LCHS: A 54-27 victory at Artesia; A 52-20 triumph over Oñate; The team mercy-ruled Gadsden by halftime, 50-0; And separate playoff wins, a 70-40 victory over Clovis in the quarterfinals round followed by a 55-28 win at Albuquerque Eldorado last weekend in the state semifinals. If the Bulldawgs keep this play going, the program’s seventh state football title — and first since 2008 — would seem very attainable.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Former Aggie Williams is CFL's top special teamer

(Chris Williams, former Aggie turned CFL standout/Courtesy photo)

Former New Mexico State wide receiver and current Hamilton Tiger-Cat Chris Williams was named the Canadian Football League's Most Outstanding Special Teams Player, announced this week.

Williams returned 78 punts for 1,117 yards, averaging 14.3 yards per return while setting a new CFL record with six kick-return touchdowns in a single season. He also caught 83 passes for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns to pace the Tiger-Cats.

Last season, Williams was named an East Division All-Star and earned the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie award.

This season, Williams was also named an East All-Star as both a receiver and a kick returner.

A Rio Rancho native, Williams played four seasons (2005-08) at New Mexico State. He caught 246 passes for 3,555 yards and 32 touchdowns with the Aggies. He also returned 42 kickoffs for 1,033 yards (24.6 avg) and two touchdowns as well as 51 punts for 297 yards (5.8 avg) and one TD.

In 2006 he set school records with 92 receptions and 1,425 receiving yards and led the nation in receiving yards per game (117.9) and catches per game (7.66). He was an All-WAC selection in 2006 and 2008 and a second-team All-WAC second-team member in 2007.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Six Aggies picked on All-WAC team

(Wide receiver Austin Franklin had a standout year for the Aggie offense, being placed on the All-WAC first team/Photo by Robin Zielinski)

The All-WAC football teams were announced yesterday. Here’s a complete list of honorees, with New Mexico State having six players named to the respective rosters. San Jose State led the way with 16 selections while Utah State and Louisiana Tech each had 14 named. The list was then followed by NMSU (six selections), UTSA (five), Idaho (three) and Texas State (three):

Top Individual Awards
Offensive Player of the Year: Colby Cameron, Sr., QB, Louisiana Tech
Defensive Player of the Year: Travis Johnson, Sr., DL, San Jose State
Freshman of the Year: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
Coach of the Year: Gary Andersen, Utah State

First Team

Pos-Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year
WR-*Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 195, Sr.
WR-Austin Franklin, New Mexico State, 6-2, 180, So.
WR-%Noel Grigsby, San Jose State, 5-11, 175, Jr.
TE-*Ryan Otten, San Jose State, 6-5, 245, Jr.
OL-Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech, 6-6, 315, Sr.
OL-*Stephen Warner, Louisiana Tech, 6-0, 295, Jr.
OL-Nicholas Kaspar, San Jose State, 6-4, 284, Jr.
OL-%David Quessenberry, San Jose State, 6-6, 291, Sr.
OL-*Tyler Larsen, Utah State, 6-4, 308, Jr.
OL-Eric Schultz, Utah State, 6-4, 304, Jr.
QB-Colby Cameron, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 205, Sr.
QB-Chuckie Keeton, Utah State, 6-2, 198, So.
RB-Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, 6-0, 211, Fr.
RB-Kerwynn Williams, Utah State, 5-9, 193, Sr.

Pos-Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year
DL-IK Enemkpali, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 245, Jr.
DL-*Travis Johnson, San Jose State, 6-3, 244, Sr.
DL-Travis Raciti, San Jose State, 6-5, 286, So.
DL-Al Lapuaho, Utah State, 6-3, 289, Sr.
LB-Vince Buhagiar, San Jose State, 6-4, 237, Jr.
LB-%#Keith Smith, San Jose State, 6-1, 229, Jr.
LB-Jake Doughty, Utah State, 6-0, 227, Jr.
LB-Kyler Fackrell, Utah State, 6-5, 236, Fr.
DB-Gary Walker, Idaho, 6-0, 203, Sr.
DB-Dave Clark, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 190, Sr.
DB-Jeremy Harris, New Mexico State, 6-2, 185, Sr.
DB-Bené Benwikere, San Jose State, 6-0, 192, Jr.
DB-Triston Wade, UTSA, 6-0, 170, So.
DB-Will Davis, Utah State, 6-0, 192, Sr.

Pos-Name, School, Ht., Wt., Year
PK-$Trey Farquhar, Idaho, 6-1, 189, Sr.
P-*Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech, 6-2, 215, Sr.
ST-D.J. Banks, Louisiana Tech, 5-9, 185, Jr.

Second Team

WR-Myles White, Sr., Louisiana Tech
WR-Chandler Jones, Jr., San Jose State
WR-Matt Austin, Sr., Utah State
TE-Chase Harper, Sr., Texas State
OL-Oscar Johnson, Sr., Louisiana Tech
OL-Kevin Saia, Sr., Louisiana Tech
OL-%Davonte Wallace, Jr., New Mexico St.
OL-Scott Inskeep, So., UTSA
OL-Jamie Markosian, Jr., Utah State
QB-David Fales, Jr., San Jose State
RB-De'Leon Eskridge, Sr., San Jose State
RB-Ray Holley, Sr., Louisiana Tech

DL-Anthony Larceval, Jr., San Jose State
DL-David Tuitupou, Sr., San Jose State
DL-Franky Anaya, Sr., UTSA
DL-Jordan Nielsen, Fr., Utah State
LB-Trashaun Nixon, Jr., New Mexico State
LB-Steven Kurfehs, Jr., UTSA
LB-Brandon Reeves, Sr., UTSA
LB-Joplo Bartu, Jr., Texas State
LB-Zach Vigil, So., Utah State
DB-%Chad Boyd, Sr., Louisiana Tech
DB-Davis Cazares, Jr., New Mexico State
DB-Darryl Morris, Sr., Texas State
DB-McKade Brady, Sr., Utah State
DB-Nevin Lawson, Jr., Utah State

PK-Austin Lopez, Fr., San Jose State
P-%&Bobby Cowan, Sr., Idaho
P-Cayle Chapman-Brown, Jr., New Mexico State
ST-Tyler Ervin, So., San Jose State

*2011 First-Team All-WAC Selection
%2011 Second-Team All-WAC Selection
&2010 First-Team All-WAC Selection
#2010 Second-Team All-WAC Selection
$2009 Second-Team All-WAC Selection

Others receiving votes

WR-Mike Scott, Sr., Idaho; Jabari Carr, So., San Jose State; Kam Jones, So., UTSA; Chuck Jacobs, Sr., Utah State; TE-Cole Hubble, So., UTSA; Kellen Bartlett, Sr., Utah State; OL-Mike Marboe, So., Idaho; Ryan Jones, Jr., San Jose State; Cody Harris, So., UTSA; Matt Freeman, Fr., Texas State; QB-None; RB-Evans Okotcha, Jr., UTSA; Marcus Curry, Sr., Texas State.

DL-Jesse Davis, So., Idaho; Maxx Forde, So., Idaho; Shakeil Lucas, Jr., Louisiana Tech; Blake McColloch, Jr., Texas State; Connor Williams, Jr., Utah State; LB-Homer Mauga, Sr., Idaho; Rob Siavii, Sr., Idaho; DB-Aaron Grymes, Sr., Idaho; Cullen Newsome, Sr., San Jose State; Craig Mager, So., Texas State; Jason McLean, Sr., Texas State.

Special Teams
PK-Matt Nelson, Sr., Louisiana Tech; P-None; ST-Kenny Harrison, So., UTSA; Andy Erickson, Jr., Texas State; Jafus Gaines, Fr., Texas State.

Former Aggie coach leads team to D-II bowl win

(Hal Mumme celebrates with his McMurry War Hawks team after a win during October of 2011/Photo by Tommy Metthe,

Former New Mexico State Aggie head football coach Hal Mumme recently led his new school, McMurry University, to a 36-35 win over Southern Arkansas in the inaugural CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl. McMurry joined the Division II football ranks this past year. Mumme's in his fourth year with the War Hawks.

For a press release on the bowl-game victory, click here.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Aggie football heads into offseason. What has to be done?

Wanted to give a quick look back on the 2012 New Mexico State football season. There will be more extensive analysis later in the week, but for now a primer: What's the team's immediate needs going into the 2012 offseason?

First off, the entire year was one of immense disappointment. Coming in, there was talk of a possible bowl game, of postseason aspirations. But those expectations were met by a program ill-equipped for such lofty goals (and a 1-11 record quickly followed). What action must be taken to rectify such a situation? On the surface a lot.

For one, the team lost key contributors on both sides of the football from a year ago, as well as four assistant coaches. None left a bigger hole than offensive coordinator Doug Martin (all the departures were felt. The lack of an experienced and innovative offensive coordinator was felt most).

We like most things about NMSU head coach DeWayne Walker: the belief that he runs a good program while having good people — players and coaches — a part of it; The team, outside of a week or two during this season, played hard; Attitude and preparation still seemed to be a part of its weekly routine.

What wasn't in place was a passable offense, which has been the case three of the past four years. When there was one, the Aggies finished 4-9 in 2011, could have easily gone 6-7 that particular year and there were rays of hope in improvement (which is really all most Aggie fans want at this point anyway). When one hasn't been present, the outfit has struggled simply being competitive.

We're not passing the buck. We're saying if Walker comes back next year (which in itself doesn't look like a foregone conclusion at this point) he needs a good offensive coordinator, because that side of the ball isn't his forte.

The point is this: In this era of college football, you're not winning many games 7-6, 14-10 and 17-13. The Aggies aren't anyway (instead, they're losing games closer to 50-14).

Walker talked this year — very openly we might add — about the need for more resources within the program. This was honest commentary from a frustrated coach. At the end of the day, it also seemed valid (Utah State and San Jose State didn't get better simply because of a resurgence in coaching. These schools have invested money into their programs in recent years, and big-time results have followed).

At season's end, the Walker pointed to two areas in which he wanted to see an uptick: His team's strength and conditioning program and in recruiting. May we add a third?

Get funds for assistant coaches, and hire an offensive coordinator for $150,000 to $200,000 (more the going rate, and well below what the Aggies are paying now). This will mark the fifth coordinator the school's had in five years (a mind-blowing number, which goes directly back to the on-field struggles) but could also attract a proven coach who might stick around for longer than eight months.

Get the unit up to at least an adequate level. We're not suggesting the Aggie defense was even remotely close to such a clip in 2012, but maybe with an offense that could move the chains and have some variation in its game, NMSU's defensive performance could perform at a slightly higher level as well. In turn, you'd have more an adequate team, something the 2012 Aggies were not. Closer to an abomination, actually.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wild Saturday in Las Cruces sports

Saturday was simply wild and crazy in the world of Las Cruces sports. Some reaction will be posted shortly but just wanted to get the top news from the weekend out there for all to read:

Austin ‘No Doubt’ Trout retains title with win over Miguel Cotto: Click here for story
Get the Associated Press' take on Trout's big win at Madison Square Garden: Click here
Las Cruces High hammered Eldorado in the Class 5A State Football Semifinals: Click here
See video reaction from the Bulldawgs big road win in Albuquerque: Click here
Aggie hoops gets another home win, this one of Southern Miss: Click here
Aggie football season ends by getting drubbed at Texas State: Click here