Saturday, January 26, 2013
Can it be done? Few have had success in their Aggie football tenures
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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