“Where Do You Go-When Not Wanted?”
These have been hard years for the two schools. And now they are no longer wanted, have no home, and are at a crossroads of where they should go.
Such is the case when your ego, your alumni, get in the way of decision making
Idaho and New Mexico State haven’t had many winning seasons in the last couple of decades. And now the losing, and their geographical location has let them out in the cold, with no home.
The Sun Belt Conferece dropped them as conference members, effective after the 2017 season. Too far to travel. Too costly. Not much of a program. Little TV interest.
Idaho has had 1-winning season since 2000, and has a composite (41-129) record in that span. Not too many fun Saturday’s in the Kibbie Dome.
It’s even worse at New Mexico State, a barren landscape worse than the desert landscape of the Tex-Mex border. The Aggies had have just 2-winning seasons in 25-years, and dating back to 1979, they have had 38-losing seasons in 41-falls. A combined record of (75-205) in that span. Coach Warren Woodson was a long, long, long time ago.
Idaho was a power in Division 1AA football in the Big Sky Conference. New Mexico State’s good seasons have been few and far between. Both decided to try to move up to Division 1-status, where it took 85-scholarships to compete.
Idaho never won trying to play as an independent with the big boys. New Mexico State could hardly compete at 1AA and has become a coaching graveyard since going true Division 1. Name a conference, they’ve tried it PCAA, WAC,. Big West.
Even being in the Sun Belt was not a solution. They combined to go (21-99) in conference play in that league. The Vandals say they might consider dropping down. Big Sky officials are ready to welcome them with open arms to allow them to come back to renew rivalries with Idaho State-Montana-Montans State-Weber State. They spent 30-years in that conference, had some great years, great quarterbacks, led by John Friesz, who went to the NFL.
For the Aggies, names like Pervis Atkins, Charley Johnson, Bobby Gaither and Roy Gerela and others come flooding back when you think of the program they used to be, but that was more than 50-yearsago.
Conference affiliations were always a problem. Ever since the old WAC folded up football operations, they were between a rock and a hard place.. And being in small markets, without much tradition, quality recruits were seldom attracted to Moscow and Las Cruces. There were hardly any blue-chip players in their own state, and if they wanted to stay home, chance are they wound up at Boise State and New Mexico, not with the Vandals and Aggies.
The Mountain West won’t look at them, for they bring little. If the Mountain West ever decides to push the expansion button, it must include BYU and Tulsa more than anyone else, but the Big 12-is rumored also to be interested in those schools.
Swallow your ego, get rid of the red-ink P&L statements, and play wheree you belong. Go to 65-scholarships and then compete in the Big Sky. There are all types of implications though, Title IX women’s programs, a dropoff in conference revenues, in addition to prestige. Each school has at least 5-payday games scheduled for the future. Auburn, LSU and the likes will cancel the contracts if they drop to 1AA.
The Big Sky conference has survived the loss of Boise State and others over the years. Everbody throws the ball in that league, they draw on-campus, and they have a playoff you can qualify for. And yes, they’re elite players wind up in NFL camps on a year by year basis.
Some pretty good coaches lost their reputations at Idaho and New Mexico State, notably Tom Cable, who wound up in the NFL, and once regarded DeWayne Walker, a great coordinator at UCLA.
The shakeup five years ago, when conferences raided other conferences, rocked some big time traditions. Big East football is gone. There are some strange people now in the Big 10, and even stranger road trips involving the ACC. Tell me West Virginia fits in the Big 12. And look who was added in the PAC-12.
The little guys were impacted too. Just ask any Vandal alum or Aggies backer how it all worked out for their schools. The next decision better be the right decision, or it might lead to a final decision, to drop football.