Saturday, January 26, 2013

Can it be done? Few have had success in their Aggie football tenures

(DeWayne Walker was one of many head coaches who've tested their abilities as Aggie head coach, only to fall short/Las Cruces Sun-News file photo)

The mystery that is New Mexico State football knows no boundaries.

The mystery of no bowl game in 52 years.

A combined 29-93 record since the last winning season in 2002. Just four winning seasons since 1967.

The many coaches that have fallen by the wayside. Since the days of Warren Woodson (1958-67), none of the names have gone unscathed.

The irony: DeWayne Walker leaving the program this past week on his own volition, taking an assistant coaching job in the NFL, could be considered a better alternative than his Aggie position, and had a better ending than many of his predecessors.

From the days of Gil Krueger and Fred Zechman, to Jim Hess and Tony Samuel, finding a better fate than that of Walker's is trying.

We look back at the history, primarily the last two coaches hired during the McKinley Boston era as NMSU Athletics Director: Hal Mumme and Walker.

Hal Mumme (2005-08)
Record: 11-38 (.224)
Coming in: "Sure. We will win here. I don't feel any different this time this year than I did this time last year. The only difference is I know everybody better." - Hal Mumme upon entering the 2006 season. In 2005, the Aggies went 0-12.
Going out: "We've had a good group of seniors and they have worked hard ... We do wish that we would have won more games and achieved our goals." - Mumme entering the final game of his tenure during the 2008 season.
Aggie legacy: Mumme was hired to replace Samuel as NMSU was preparing to enter the Western Athletic Conference from the Sun Belt. Mumme was brought in as a big name (formally the head coach at Kentucky) with a pass-happy offense (coined the Air Raid). A disastrous 0-12 first season followed, headlined by a religious discrimination lawsuit that ended in a private settlement. The three years after saw the Aggies make signs of progress - a strong end to the 2006 season, beating UTEP twice during Mumme's tenure and a road win over WAC power Nevada. But it also had its shortcomings - close losses at times to poor teams, a one-dimensional offense and poor kicking game which resulted bad field position and time-of-possession differential for the defense.
Where is he now?: Mumme landed as head coach at McMurry University, a Division III sports institution, where he resigned on Friday after having led the program to a bowl game in 2012.

DeWayne Walker (2009-2012)
Record: 10-40 (.200)
Coming in: "You have to be honest, you have to have integrity, you have to have character, you have to teach these young men to be men. I want our guys to be prepared for life beyond college." - Walker during his first day on the Aggie job.
Going out: "I'm not going to lie, this was a tough year .... I came here to try and change this program and that's what I want to continue to do. There's been a lot of soul searching." - Walker during an early-January conversation following the 2012 season.
Aggie legacy: A first-time head coach, Walker poured a lot into trying to make Aggie football a winning outfit. Three of his four years saw NMSU remain largely uncompetitive. The 2011 season was the exception, when the Aggies were a respectable 4-9 and took some steps forward. At times Walker learned on the job, and he suffered from coaching turnover - he essentially fired two offensive coordinators, saw one depart following the 2010 season and another (current interim coach Doug Martin) advance to Boston College for a year. He also endured four NMSU presidents in four years at the school (three as interim, as well as Barbara Couture). Walker was honest and spoke often about the program's budget constraints and lack of financial support, perhaps the No. 1 factors that must be addressed in turning around Aggie football moving forward.
Where is he now?: Walker accepted an NFL assistant job this past week, and will coach defensive backs with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2013.

Aggie football coaches in the modern era
Since the days of Warren Woodson, no coach's record has gone unscathed. A look back at past Aggie coaches:

Warren Woodson
Tenure: 1958-67
Record: 63-36-6 (.626)
Legacy: The most successful coach in Aggie history, Woodson was also a hard driver who ran his program that way, leading the Aggies to their last two bowl games in 1959 and 1960. He was ahead of his time offensively - implementing a balanced attack - and that fact is articulated in some of his offensive talent: Quarterback Charley Johnson and running backs Pervis Atkins, Bob Gaiters and Jim Bohl. Woodson's tenure ended when he was supposedly forced into retirement by NMSU administration. Longtime Aggie fans recall his departure as "The Curse of Warren Woodson," with some claiming it still hangs over the program today.

Jim Wood
Tenure: 1968-72
Record: 21-30-1 (.427)
Legacy: After going .500 three of his first four seasons in charge of Aggie football, Wood oversaw a program that went 2-9 in 1972. A shift in Aggie athletics began, and the football program began its decline.

Jim Bradley
Tenure: 1973-77
Record: 23-31-1 (.427)
Legacy: Coming from Mayfield High School after winning a state championship in football, Bradley had a moderately successful record with the Aggies - at least in hindsight. He led the team to a handful of sub-.500 records and finished over .500 three of his five years in the Missouri Valley Conference. The school didn't bring him back just before the football program moved into Aggie Memorial Stadium, a sore point Bradley talked about late into his high school coaching career.

Gil Krueger
Tenure: 1978-82
Record: 17-37-1 (.318)
Legacy: A successful coach of at Northern Michigan University, Krueger got his shot at Division-I New Mexico State. His first year saw him bring a winning mentality - a 5-1 league record, as the Aggies won the Missouri Valley Conference outright. A strong assistant coaching staff dwindled, however, and Krueger would go 11-32-1 in his remaining three years at the school.

Fred Zechman
Tenure: 1983-85
Record: 8-25 (.242)
Legacy: A quarterbacks coach at Ohio State (where he tutored Art Schlichter) the Aggies rolled the dice on an up-and-coming assistant coach through the college ranks. It was counter to their previous hire of Krueger, who had head-coaching experience, although Zechman could never quite get it done at NMSU.

Mike Knoll
Tenure: 1986-89
Record: 4-40 (.091)
Legacy: Parallel to the hire of Zechman, NMSU went the assistant-coaching ranks again, hiring another hot up-and-comer from the Miami Hurricanes. Knoll, however, was a young coach who was in for a rude awakening. After winning at Kansas in 1988 - a victory thought to possibly be a turning-point moment for the program - Knoll's Aggies were saddled with a 17-game losing streak his final two years with the program.

Jim Hess
Tenure: 1990-96
Record: 22-55 (.286)
Legacy: A highly-successful coach at Angelo State and Stephen F. Austin, Hess understood the situation he stepped into in Aggie land. He snapped the nation's longest losing streak at 27, when he won the 1990 season finale. A 6-5 record in 1992 followed, then a 5-6 mark in he following year. But, like those before him, the final years saw the team taper, culminating with a 1-10 mark in 1996.

Tony Samuel
Tenure: 1997-2004
Record: 34-57 (.363)
Legacy: Perhaps the most successful coach for the Aggies during the modern era. Considering Samuel had two winning seasons (while NMSU has just four the past 43 years), he had success on the field. Academic troubles were present during Samuel's tenure, and competitively he was hurt when a core of solid assistant coaches moved onto better opportunities elsewhere.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg


Anonymous said...

Good article Teddy, but it ALL comes down to both financial AND fan support as I've been saying for a while. For some reason most folks think that going to the FCS, D2, etc will solve our problem. It won't. The university MUST dedicate much more money to the atheltic department which in turn MUST be spent wisely. Upgrading the facilities (stadium, weight room, etc) for football will go a long way. Ok the team hasn't been to a bowl in over 50 years, but if we plan on turning this program around we MUST spend money to make money. This whole conference realignment is about football, money and tv deals. That's it! It doesn't matter if you have a winning basketball program. The collapse of the Big East is a perfect example. CUSA is going through the same thing, but UTEP hasn't figured it out yet.
Seriously why would 3 Star or better athletes want to attend NMSU? That's the question the university needs to ask itself and make itself more marketable. Seriously this isn't rocket science. The other issue that MUST be resolved is support from fans and the community. Yes NMSU has done a terrible job in this department too, but we as fans need to do more. Buying season tickets and attending games are a must. Since NONE of us know the real reason why NMSU is without a conference, we have to realize that poor fan support plays a BIG role in our current situation also. I keep bringing up last year's 26 win season in basketball. You can gripe about the coach, but get out there and support the players folks!! Twenty-six wins and we average 6K in attendance. That's actual people in the stands, not including the no-show ticket holders. We had a game on ESPNU the other night (Denver) and the crowd was pathetic. The students showed up, but where was everyone else? Just because the game started at 9 shouldn't matter. Remember the attendence for the late games in the 90's against UNLV, LBSU, etc? The Pan Am was packed.
I lay a lot of the blame on NMSU for not getting the community/fans more involved. I've said that the athletic department needs to start up a student organization that gets the sutdents more involved at games (cheers, rallies, etc). The students now don't know what to do at games. A loud and involved crowd can be a game changer. Getting the community more involved is a must. Fundraising and having local restaurants setting up booths at games can go a long way. People will support something that makes them feel like their at home. This is OUR university and we (fans and NMSU) MUST come together.
I wish the best of luck to Coach Walker. You did all you could with a program that gave you little to no support. There are a lot of us out here that appreciated your hard work and dedication. Now we need to continue and increase our support for the new staff. I ask the fans, NMSU and community to stop finger pointing. Change will only take place if you get out there and do something to make it happen, not just complain. Go Aggies!


Anonymous said...

Can it be done? Yes, of course it can. But it will take a lot of time and treasure that NMSU currently doesn't really have to pour into the program.

I think a good hard look at McKinley Boston's tenure is also warranted. Perhaps some new leadership at the top of the Athletics Department after 8+ years will help alter the status quo. But would we be able to find anyone to take the job?

Anonymous said...

The reason Walker left is because he didn't have the support from Boston and NMSU in making a serious "commitment to football".

He complained openly about the lack of commitment for the past two years and Boston never did anything to better the situation.

It doesn't who they bring in. If NMSU doesn't make serious commitment to football. No coach stands a chance!!

Anonymous said...

to the guy who said going d2 wont help why not our facilitys are better than most d2 schools we wont have to pay a coach as much and people really dont care if we are d2 or d1. Yeah i do remember when pan am was packed we played a uptempo type of game and the coach was alot better than this joke menzie. Take a strong look at what boston did to minnesota he ran them in the toilet also.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:40

Do you have to ask why going FCS or D2 won't help? Your suggestion about paying a coachs less if we go to D2 is exactly what the university has been doing. Obviously you haven't paid attention, but NMSU is ranked near the bottom for coaching salaries as it is. How much less to you want to pay our coaches? That's just one of the MANY reasons as to why NMSU's football program is in the toilet as you say. Who wants to coach here? I will say that whom ever gets selected as the new coach is immediately getting fed to the wolves with next years schedule (Texas, San Diego St, Minnesota, UCLA, Boston College). WOW! What the program is going to desperately need is our support in the stands next season. With BC, MN and SDSU coming to Cruces, there should be NO reason why Aggie fans won't support the team. Yes the games will be ugly, but you have to support OUR team in good times and bad. Besides tickets start at about $10 so there's no excuse. Don't be fair weather fans folks. We have the ability to institute change. The question is who's willing to put forth the effort?

Another thing, just because the tempo of the basketball games doesn't meet your needs, doesn't mean we don't show up to games. Seriously? McCarthy was better? UNLV was better too. What have they done since Tark retired? Nothing. You must also remember that McCarthy recruited JUCO players so we had to rebuild every 2 years. That type of uncertainty does not last. We need to have a team that can be sustainable. Sure I'm not a fan of how Coach Menzies manages games, I've lost most of my hair because of it, but 26 wins last season says a lot. Obviously with the talent we have on the team this year we should be much better, but they seem to finally be coming together as a team. Hopefully they can muster a better second half of the season. We also have UTEP coming to town in a few weeks. That is a must win game since winning our rivalry games have become a rare feet. One can only hope.


Anonymous said...

Lots of opinions...some might indeed work.

As fans, we should (1) support the athletics program through attendance at games and contributions and (2) we also need to actively write letters to the AD, NMSU president (when they get one), and NMSU Board of Regents with our concerns and ideas.

An active/involved fan base will do more for this team than anything else and will help any coach find success at NMSU.

Anonymous said...

to the guy talking about backing the aggies. Really? Come on there a joke you say going d2 is a mistake but you dont say why. We dont have the money to compete at d1 we pay these coaches an outrages amount and for what. The sun news says menzie made 265,000 last year bull he made close to 500,000 with bonuses i have read his contract. walker made close to 500,000 read his also. The school is broke and now they have to play those tough teams to generate cash that is why walker left he knew he couldnt win. Yet you say back them by going to the games for what to watch them lose. Menzie said him self he only wants to play unm and utep once cause he knows he cant beat them. Here's an idea why dont you give them half your yearly salary and you can join the other 10 people in the stands and nmsu can lie and say there where 120000 plus in attendance.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:54,

You must be new to this blog. Stay home and keep your misery there. Back up your quotes about Menzies saying he wants to play UNM/UTEP once since he can't beat them. I don't remember EVER seeing that said anywhere. So NMSU is broke? The economic times have impacted ALL schools. Why is it that NMSU doesn't have the money to compete at the D1 level? There are 124 schools in D1. Why was UNM able to turn their football program around this year? They were always last in ESPN's bottom 10, yes we were near the bottom too, but they improved. They were 4-9, but they were much more competitive compared to previous years and they had a new coach. Their PPG increased significantly and they almost beat #24 Boise St. Sure Boise wasn't as strong this year, but they weren't ranked for nothing. UNM is putting more into their football program than NMSU and their improvement shows.

To answer your other comment, I've said plenty of times on both Teddy's and Jason Groves blogs as to ideas to help rejuvenate our athletics program. I've never claimed to be a marketing strategist or Warren Buffet, but the ideas I've mentioned are COMMON SENSE ideas. I've mentioned countless times that Cruces does not look like it has any type of ownership of NMSU. Go to towns where they have successful programs and you'll see university this or that everywhere. If you want to be successful you need to get out and do something about it and have your fans buy into it as well.

Also, let me know where NMSU inflates their attendence numbers. When Jack Nixon reports the numbers at the end of the games they are pretty close.

Instead of trolling the blogs with negativity, provide solutions that will make us successful.