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  • Jordan Banegas

Love It or List It: Conference Realignment Edition



"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" - Yogi Berra


The old adage resembles the thought process of many NM State fans this week as the whirlwind that is conference realignment stirs up a dust devil in the Chihuahan desert like we have not seen in years. Could it finally be that UTEP and NM State share a conference as the travel partners everyone thought they could be?


In case you are blessed enough to not be obsessively refreshing message boards for the latest news, allow me to quickly bring you up to speed:


  • Texas and OU left for the SEC.

  • The Big 12 backfilled their two flagship programs with Houston, UCF, and Cincinnati from the AAC.

  • The AAC panicked and plucked Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA from C-USA.

  • The Mountain West put all their eggs in the elite football basket that is San Jose State and UNM and communicated they have no interest in expanding.

  • Southern Miss, Marshall and, it looks like Old Dominion, abandoned the C-USA ship and joined Karl Benson's alliance of truck driving institutions that field football teams (also known as the Sunbelt).


Five C-USA members remain: UTEP, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky (screw you, Patrick Sparks), Louisiana Tech, and Florida International. The domino effect leaves a once gargantuan Group of 5 conference scrambling to stay afloat by maintaining the 8 FBS members required in the College Football Playoff era. The shakeup has the internet asking: "has NM State found its dancing partner?"


Aggie Nation is full of speculation and anticipatory anxiety--like a pimple-faced prom prospect on the edge of the dance floor after having been snubbed by every eligible date in the gym.


Some say "we've seen this one before;" no, I don't want to ride with the cool kids to prom because last time they left us alone under the harsh, high-desert sun with nowhere to hide. I get it--NM State is damaged goods--self preservation tells us "I don't want to be hurt again."


I am the first to admit that I am genuinely excited about SFA, ACU, SHSU, and the rest of the WAC that quietly, diligently, humbly, built a mid-major mecca in the Southwest. Is it the Big West of the 90's or the multi-bid WAC of the mid 2000's? No. But it's a natural geographic mix of college basketball programs who have consistently punched outside of their weight class; not only are they punching, SFA and ACU have gotten a couple belts, a-la Canelo's KO of Kovalev at 175. So why leave a good thing?


Fair question. I believe a fair answer is that NM State's athletic program NEEDS an FBS conference to continue.This is do or die. We cannot continue to perform at this level in any sport without a stable situation for football. As Mario Moccia says, the only thing more exclusive than the 130 FBS is the 100 member United States Senate--we must protect it at all costs. Sure, the bottom may fall out of C-USA; does that mean we watch our slow devolution into the Idaho Vandals (RIP) comfortably in a conference that will lead to our inevitable death of not just football, but Aggie sports as we know it? FCS means less money for every sport. This is what is at stake when we are talking protecting FBS status. Or--do we shoot our shot and go to the prom with our imperfect but at least age-appropriate date? It would be self destruction to let this opportunity pass.


Others agree and are taking a "puke and rally" approach to prom night. It's really less about who we are at the prom with and more about how we can make the most of a night that's led to us shotgunning tecates in the back of our homie's Nissan Altima (freshly detailed at Daddy O's). And making the most of it looks like saying "yes" to the date who last week swore they were out of our league.


I am not saying to make the switch at any cost. Rumor has it that MTSU and WKU are trying to seduce the MAC into an unnatural fling, and if that were to materialize, we have to seriously weigh the likelihood of C-USA staying FBS.


I am also a fan of looking out for #1 by bringing some of our new conference mates along for the ride. SFA, ACU, SHSU, and others not named GCU could be solid olympic sports members and even better future FBS members if they plan to move up. Allow me to now join the multitude of trolls concocting our own conference makeup informed by our deep knowledge accrued by treating games played by teenage students as our purpose for being. To me, a C-USA of the following beats anything the WAC could ever offer.


West:

- NMSU

- UTEP

- Sam Houston

- SFA

- ACU


East:

- LA Tech

- Western Kentucky

- MTSU

- FIU

- Jackson State


You may need another FBS addition like UMass or an FCS come up like Tarleton or McNeese State, but the point is that this is a lifeline to our floundering football program and boasts 5 programs that are March Madness darlings. I didn't even mention a former national champion in UTEP. Did you know they won it all in 1966? Their fans seldom speak of it.


All this being said, let me leave you all with some quick takes:


  1. If you want leadership to outmaneuver their peers in situations like this, then no more complaining about their salaries. We have to pay talent the market rate if want to be competitive--regardless of our humble view of the American Peso.

  2. I don't have any solid intel but whispers say that NM State is moving quickly towards a C-USA membership.

  3. Go to sleep tonight dreaming of a conference tournament game between the Aggies and Miners in a sold out Pan Am...

  4. What do you think we should do? Let us know in the comments!

Glad to be back, Aggies.




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