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When you happen to be in a big football state, recruiting and winning seem to come easy. But in New Mexico, football is not the top sport in town and recruiting definitely does not come easy. So is there an argument to be made to ditch the sport altogether?
For New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, two football programs in two different conferences try to recruit against the top dogs in each of those conferences.
For the New Mexico Lobos, they have to compete against TCU, BYU and BYU while the New Mexico State Aggies have to deal with Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii. Both schools aren't going to get the top recruits even in their own state. They are not big football schools and high school players know it.
In 2010, the Lobos became the running joke in college football. It seemed no matter who they were up against, they were getting blown out and embarrassed.
Through the first four weeks of the season, New Mexico had been outscored 225-41 including a 72-0 throttling at the hands of the Oregon Ducks in the very first game of the season.
Their offensive would score more than 20 points just four times all season and their defense gave up 40 or more points six times including two lopsided blowouts at the hands of Oregon, 72-0, and TCU, 66-17.
“We didn’t play well today,” New Mexico coach Mike Locksley said after their loss to TCU. “We didn’t execute on offense, defense, and special plays, and that all starts with me as a head coach.” Locksley could have put that quote on a recorder and played it after each loss during the 2010 season. It would have saved him from answering the same questions week in and week out.
They were outmatched from the first game to the last and it showed as the Lobos were staring at a 1-11 record when the season mercifully came to an end.
For the Aggies, 2010 did not have any better of an experience as their in-state rivals. They finished the season with a 2-10 record and gave up 40 or more points seven times including each of their first four games.
The top teams in the Western Athletic Conference were dominating them from start to finish. They lost games to Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii by an average of 51-10 including lopsided losses to Boise State, 59-0, and Nevada, 52-6.
Both the Lobos and the Aggies had the worst offenses in their respective conferences. New Mexico averaged 15.8 points per game while the Aggies averaging 15.7 points per game. On defense, neither were much better, giving up 44.3 and 39.5 points per game respectively.
The fan bases on both sides have to be wondering if or when they will ever see a winning season from one or both of these programs.
With Boise State joining the Mountain West Conference for the 2011 season and the resurgence of San Diego State, the New Mexico Lobos may see more of the same especially with Fresno State, Nevada, and Hawaii due to join the conference for the 2012 season.
As for New Mexico State, as I wrote about San Jose State possibly ditching their football program, the Aggies may in fact benefit from the four top teams in the conference heading for greener pastures after the conclusion of the 2011 season.
Maybe, just maybe, New Mexico State could see some improvement but is it enough for them to keep football around?
If things do not change and both the Aggies and Lobos continue to struggle in their respective conferences, maybe they need to re-think even having a football team.
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