Relax. You knew it was going to be bad. We all did.
When you send the lambs to fight the lions, getting smacked around by 52 points is not entirely unexpected.
Watching the University of New Mexico football team get crushed on national TV by Notre Dame wasn’t the end of the world for Lobo fans. Same, too, for New Mexico State and its trips to Alabama and Washington State.
Show up, collect a massive paycheck, board the plane and head home for greener pastures. It’s a simple recipe both in-state programs will follow for years to come. That’s just the way it is when you’re a lower-level FBS team. Your only purpose is to occasionally serve as sacrificial lamb to the powers and maybe gain some confidence while doing it.
Now the Lobos and Aggies can look forward to playing one another this weekend in Albuquerque. For UNM, it really amounts to a make-or-break scenario where if it wins maybe, just maybe, it can consider a run at something better than a third straight 3-9 season. Lying in wait are winnable games at Liberty and San Jose State, as well as home dates with Hawaii and Colorado State.
Before you start setting aside money for New Mexico Bowl tickets, consider the most obvious thing the Lobos must do before any of that happens. In August, head coach Bob Davie — who may or may not return before the end of the season — said the entire offense was basically designed with a quarterback like Tevaka Tuioti in mind.
It’s time to put him in. Given the personal trauma he faced with family issues back home, Tuioti barely practiced in the weeks leading into the season opener. To throw him into the deep end in the first two games would have been unfair to him and the team. He didn’t play against Sam Houston State and was the backup against Notre Dame.
This is Tuioti’s team, and it’s time to see what he can do with it. If the Lobos are serious about trying to rise from the ashes of two straight 3-9 seasons, it’s time to put the right man under center.
With that, here are some other observations from the armchair quarterback:
• Kudos to UNM associate professor Amy T. Neel for recommending to the university that former Lobos baseball player Jackson Weller receive a posthumous undergraduate degree following his untimely death in May. A pitcher on the baseball team, he was shot to death in May outside a nightclub near campus.
The UNM Faculty Senate approved the measure Aug. 28.
• The proposed partnership between the UNM Athletics Department and Outfront Media has not been finalized after more than a month of negotiations. Any deal must first be approved by the UNM Board of Regents, and the agenda for Tuesday’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting does not include an action item from Athletics.
Athletic director Eddie Nuñez confirmed Monday night that the deal will have to wait until next month’s regents meeting before any vote can be taken. He and his staff began negotiations with Outfront in July.
From the outside looking in, it appears a sizable risk to cut ties with previous multimedia partner Learfield IMG College and go with Outfront. Learfield issued an annual payment of at least $4.5 million for exclusive rights to UNM’s multimedia rights.
The initial proposal with Outfront has no guarantees but gives the athletic department the ability to far exceed Learfield’s payout as long as revenues come in at a healthy and admittedly optimistic pace.
Critics might say it’s too much of a risk, turning down guaranteed millions for the hope that the market in a down economy is receptive to a department suffering a severe public relations crisis. Budget cuts, scandal, corruption and dwindling support? UNM has all of that in droves.
An optimist might say that the rewards for a successful marketing campaign with Outfront will dwarf anything Learfield was offering.
We’ll just have to wait and see. Wait at least another month, that is.
Will Webber’s commentary appears regularly in this section. A journalist who has covered sports in New Mexico for more than 20 years, his focus is UNM athletics. Contact him at email@example.com.