57 years. FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS! It doesn’t take much explanation to relay the fact that New Mexico State has been waiting a very long time to qualify for a bowl game. Some may say it was just a good year, but whatever the football team was able to figure out to qualify for a bowl game, the fans deserved it.
The length of failure for this NMSU program seemed to be endless. I know, from experience, that the ratio of people who actually went to watch the game to the people that went just to tailgate was pitiful. I mean, I get it, college students like to party, but the lack of school spirit was somewhat depressing. It had been tough to even convince friends that it was worth going into the stadium (for free) to at least watch the first half! Whatever kind of Aggie fans that were cheering on this year’s bowl eligible squad, you really earned this season.
Many fans had lost hope for a variety of reasons and players seemed to play as though they were victim to a bad program (kind of like the Cleveland Browns). Good passes would be dropped almost routinely, Aggie linemen would get bullied in the trenches, and quarterbacks would never seem to really answer the call. This year something changed and I would like to give credit to the fact that the coaches and training staff has never slowed on their pursuit to encourage players to buy into the winning mentality. They knew that changing the culture of this program would be difficult (to say the least), but they stuck with their ultimate goal and found a way to achieve it.
A few years back, rumors began about the athletic department debating on whether they should disband the football team due to lack of attendance and on-field success. Now, I can’t say that the individuals who were looking out for the school’s best interest financially are now proven wrong, (they still have a long way to go) but they must be able to see how well a school can rally behind success. I mean come on, it’s always fun to represent the “David” in the battle.
With success came controversy. NMSU President, Garrey Carruthers, had said a few weeks back that the school would not fund bowl game expenses (travel, rooms, and meals). He was met with much pushback, which made him change his tone. He went on record to say that he “thought” that any lack of ticket sales would have to be financed by the school. Whatever his thought process was, Las Cruces is sure glad that he changed it, because being one of the few teams to ever decline a bowl invite would make zero sense at all. A gigantic program like Notre Dame or Alabama, may be able to get away with it and still find success (though it would be idiotic), but a team that has been on the recruitment struggle bus would hurt even more. Put yourself in the shoes of a talented high school athlete unsure of the next step in his football career. Would you want to settle for a college program that won’t even entertain the chance at a bowl game? Be real, the answer is NO.
Regardless of whatever happened in the athletic department this year and/or the past 57 years of bowl drought, the Aggies have now made it. It’s a great victory for true fans and it’s an even more intriguing story for on-looking college football fanatics. We wish the New Mexico State Aggies the very best of luck on their historical chance at a postseason victory!