Online sports gambling site SportsBetting.ag has set the over/under for all 130 Football Bowl Subdivision teams for the 2021 season.
It lists the University of New Mexico at 4.0 and New Mexico State at 2.0. Considering the Lobos haven’t won more than three games since 2016 and had, at one point last season, the country’s longest active losing streak, going 4-8 in a 12-game slate that includes eight conference games and a date with Texas A&M seems optimistic.
The Aggies have fared better than the two-win plateau a few times in recent years but, yeah, a 2-for-2021 campaign somehow feels right this time.
Apparently the people in the glass offices at CBS were paying attention. On Wednesday, the network released its national TV schedule for the upcoming season as part of its lucrative deal with the Mountain West Conference. Either the network forgot that UNM is part of the Mountain West or it simply didn’t care to waste its time putting the cherry and silver on TV.
Not a single one of the 32 games planned for the CBS mothership or its CBS Sports Network included the Lobos.
The Aggies? They’ll be on there twice, with games against San Diego State and Nevada. The non-Mountain West, FBS-independent NMSU football program, which might as well be a Mountain West member since seven of its first nine games are against MWC schools, will get two games on a network that has committed itself to a multiyear deal to put the schools of the Mountain West on TV.
To a Lobo fan, that’s a slap in the face, a footful of sand in the mug, an unprovoked shove in the back.
Of the 12 football-playing schools in the MWC, 11 have at least two national games on CBS networks. Even Hawaii, which is a logistical nightmare for national broadcasts because of its 10 p.m. kickoffs in the Mountain time zone, gets a pair of games.
Disrespect for Lobo football? Probably.
End of the world? Hardly.
The MWC’s broadcast rights deal includes its relationship with Fox, which will announce its schedule Thursday. Even if the Lobos are shut out by those guys (which they won’t be), UNM still stands to rake in its estimated $4.5 million share. That money is enough fund a number of lower-profile sports in the cash-strapped athletic department, keeping student-athletes in school and coaches on the payroll.
The Lobos don’t need to be on TV to get paid, simple as that. What they do need, however, is to not feel overlooked by one or the entities charged with the promotion of a conference fighting for its spot at the food trough.
Still — really, CBS? Not a single Lobo game was good enough to find its way onto your airwaves? Not even the “road” trip to San Diego State on Oct. 9, a game played more than an hour outside of San Diego thanks to the ongoing construction of SDSU’s new football stadium, was enough to get your attention?
Perhaps CBS’ excuse is too much airtime for SDSU, which has seven games on the Sports Network and one on the main CBS lineup, more than any other MWC school.
But what about the Oct. 2 home game against Air Force or the Nov. 20 trip to Boise State? Not even the game against New Mexico’s other team at home on Sept. 11 was attractive enough?
Looks like Fox is UNM’s last resort. If not, it falls to the dreaded online streaming of the MWC’s partnership with Stadium or (gulp) nothing at all. Egads, people might actually have to go old school and buy a ticket if they want to see their Lobos.
Maybe if the team can turn a few heads in 2021 by threatening the .500 mark or (Hail Mary, here) somehow crack the rarified air of a winning record and become bowl eligible, it might earn the respect of the CBS bigwigs and earn a little screen time on their network next year.
Until then, check the listings for Fox, because that’s the only place you’ll find the Lobos between early September and Thanksgiving weekend.