For Those Who Think
A Response to NMSU Board of Regent’s Mike Cheney’s Plea for Apathy
Reagan Sullivan, Co-Founder, Aggie Solidarity
Before I get into the actual response, I’d like to say a couple things about the student athletes at NMSU. I admire those student athletes that not only put in long hours of physically draining work into the pursuit of athletic excellence, but also excel in the classroom. I have known or briefly acquainted several outstanding student athletes over the last thirteen years. I do not have a problem with the NMSU students that risk serious injury on the fields, courts, and tracks of collegiate sports. My problem lies with the administration of NMSU and the absurd prioritizing of the football program at the expense of academic funding.
For two decades I have followed NMSU Aggie football. During those years I have seen mostly disappointment, and a rare moment of success. I have witnessed coaches come and go as if NMSU were a “success rehab” and in the one recent case of a decent coach, termination after eight seasons while producing two winning seasons, which included the upset of #22 Arizona State 35-7. That coach was Tony Samuel, and in his eight years as head coach he strung together more wins than Hal Mumme and DeWayne Walker combined. (That would be 34 for Samuel, and just 21 for the two that were paid boatloads of money to lose a lot) I’ll get back to this topic after I address your “op-ed” sent to the students on the last day of school.
It was very clever to send it out when you did. Most of the students are out trying to get drunk, laid, or for those who have graduated, a job that will not depress themselves to the point of suicide. Bravo, indeed, but you forgot that some of us are still paying attention, especially the faculty. We’re not stupid, you know. We attend the “greatest” university in the whole world. We are living, learning, and thriving… as far as the academic budget permits it. This is why I am asking you the first of many requests. Please, for the love of all that is crimson, start funneling the athletics budget into academics.
According to you the NMSU student athletes are outperforming us. I guess it must be the millions of academic funds being redirected into the coffers of our “super-duper awesome athletics program.” Well, we are hurting. If that money was all put into the academic budget, it would be a win-win for all students, even the athletes. Think of the national media attention that NMSU would receive for prioritizing academics. It would be wonderful for NMSU to be in the news without the audience laughing at us. They would forget about the branch campus nursing program debacle. It would erase all the memory of Hal Mumme kicking all of the Muslim football players off of his team. It would make Barbara Coture’s bank-robberish departure from NMSU look like an innocent game of Monopoly. History would hail you and your fellow board members as the pioneers of a “golden era” at NMSU.
There is more though. My next request involves you taking a realistic approach to talking about the football program. I’ll start with some things you wrote in your “op-ed”. “For those who watched – NMSU beat Minnesota two years ago.” OH YEAH! I remember when the Aggies fought so hard and bravely to beat the national football powerhouse, the Minnesota Golden Gophers! It was such a blowout too, seven point victory, amazing! Minnesota is such an outstanding program, I find it hard to believe they have not won a national championship since 1960. (Strangely the last year the Aggies played in a bowl game) Ok, so if you haven’t noticed my sarcasm by now, Minnesota is a Big Ten Conference chump. They won three games in 2010, three in 2011 when they somehow lost to NMSU, and in the past three years the only team in that conference that did worse was the juggernaut Indiana Hoosiers. In all seriousness, can you really base unquestioned support of a floundering football program based on beating a football team that had a losing record? Your other claims need to be addressed as well.
You mention the hysteria we should experience over three players being drafted into the NFL in the last three years. Ok, we can’t deny that, but did you pay attention to this past NFL draft? I counted at least 21 players from schools in lower divisions than what NMSU is in that were drafted. I had no idea that these schools had football programs. I bet most of those schools have smaller football budgets than NMSU as well. I guess this means we don’t have to flood football with academic money to produce NFL quality players. Although, I find it coincidental that Jeremy Harris, a cornerback, was drafted by the NFL team that hired DeWayne Walker to be their defensive backs coach. I’m not going to make claims of “Illuminati” or anything like that, I’m just saying, possible coincidence.
Now the fun begins: UNM and UTEP, our heated rivals that keep NMSU from being the world’s leading institution of higher learning. Last season they handily blocked us from achieving all of our goals. It was such a nightmare after our boys in the trenches were embarrassed by the Lobos and Miners. I couldn’t sleep for weeks… my GPA plummeted and my wife almost left me because I couldn’t function without the Aggies beating our evil nemeses from Albuquerque and El Paso. But 2011 was a joyous occasion when the Aggies beat UNM into such a slimy paste that the Lobos only won a single game that year. The victory was so intense that it did not bother me when the Miners, obviously cheating with better players and coaching, slipped past the Aggies. 2010 was just the same.
I’m going to take a break from sarcasm for a moment. The three straight years that NMSU beat the Lobos was equivalent to the US Army invading Liechtenstein. 2009, 2010, and 2011 were horrible years for UNM football. Each of those seasons they only managed a solo victory. The last time the Miners were defeated by our Aggies was 2008. We all know that the Miners are never good, but what about the other teams we have beaten since 2005, which is the year I believe that marks the point of the serious downhill slide the program has taken.
Most of us know that in 2005 the Aggies didn’t win any games. It was Hal Mumme’s first season as coach, and the first season in the WAC. Yes, NMSU decided to leave a conference (the Sun Belt) it stood a chance in, to join one with teams that would eventually obliterate the Aggies year after year. 2006 was definitely an exciting one for the fans. Chase Holbrook launched footballs all over the field to give the Aggies four glorious victories. Two of the teams that were pummeled by Hal Mumme’s ingenious “Air Raid” system were lower division studs SELU and Texas Southern who spent the rest of their seasons getting slapped around by their peer institutions. Beating Utah State and Louisiana Tech, who had a combined four victories that year, showed how much better the Aggies had become. The season that followed was so spectacular, it is almost hard to describe without wetting myself.
Starting out with a bang, NMSU creamed SELU by 21 points, lost to the Lobos, but overwhelmed the Miners in a five point victory that had a magnitude of positive energy so great I discovered the secret to cold fusion. Life got even better when the Aggies ended their horrible trip to Auburn and slapped Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a devastating three point whooping! Beating Idaho later that season was a thrill, but all that was stifled by the Aggies getting snubbed in the AP rankings. Nobody could figure out why, after the Aggies beat four outstanding powerhouses, that they were not ranked, until the season ended and it was revealed that the teams the Aggies beat had worse seasons than they did. But fans and administration alike would keep their heads up, it was all going to culminate in 2008!
Yes, the Aggies beat UTEP again! BCS bowl game, here we come! 2008 was indeed a special year. The Aggies managed to beat a team that would have a winning record… the Nevada Wolfpack. It was such a marvelous win that NMSU didn’t need to win any more games that season. It wasn’t enough!? Oh my, why doesn’t anyone think the Aggies are good? Maybe a new coach will do the trick? Would 2009 bring the success that people would actually notice? Sadly, it didn’t. The Aggies mustered three brilliant victories against the cream of the crop… one of those teams made it to the postseason… in a lower division. How about 2010? It’s gotta happen soon! NMSU beat UNM and San Jose State University, and it was so humiliating for these teams that they decided to only win one game each. Still, no respect for the Aggies. 2011 should mark the pinnacle of the brilliant football plan! No, damn it, those teams the Aggies beat decided to suck the rest of the season and make NMSU look bad. My best guess is that 2012 was a vacation season for NMSU so they could rest up for their national championship run led by head cheerleader Mike Cheney.
You can use the term “pockets of success” all you want, but all the bullshit in the world will just fall out, because those pockets are full of holes. The football program, in the last eight years, has only beaten one team that had a winning record at the end of the season. A good portion (1/3) of the wins have come against lower division schools. Many of the other wins have come against teams that only won a single game that year. The worst part is the coaches are getting paid more than any faculty could imagine, yet they are terrible at their job. I think I can see the problem here. You are putting too much money into the football program. They have no incentive. The coaches are simply sitting on their asses for four years, collecting a ton of money, and waltzing off to their next destination. You, the Board of Regents have permitted this.
You are all welcome to privately fund football all you want. You have the right to use whatever state-approved athletics funds are granted to the university, but taking from academic funds is crossing the line. In fact, I would hate to see how much money you would shift to the football program if they actually had a winning season. Aside from that, stop trying to create a national powerhouse because it is never going to happen, unless the school secretly pays blue-chip’s to attend our school, that would be the only way.
I’m telling you this now, if indeed the football team sets the mood on campus, NMSU would have surpassed the high level of veteran suicides already. Nobody cares about how the football team does, well, except for the fans at http://www.aggiealert.com and other crimson-nut websites that honesty believe every new coach hired by Athletics Director McKinley Boston is “Jesus resurrected.” That is it, really. Just ask anyone who watches the football games on Aggie Vision. Your camera crews love scanning the empty stands. Which brings me to one last request.
Please, as part of the complex, overpopulated administration of this university, stop begging us to go to the games because of “attendance” issues. We all know you fudge the numbers to maintain the minimum. We don’t want to sit on those awful metal benches. We don’t want to watch an overpaid buffoon poorly coach a group of young men who are putting their health on the line for your glory. We don’t want your over-subsidized, low quality BRAND.