The Mountain West Conference completed its national television package for the college football season and, unlike Wednesday’s announcement that left the University of New Mexico off the CBS broadcast schedule, Thursday’s release of the Fox slate has four games involving the Lobos.
UNM will have two home games on the network of Fox Sports entities, which includes the main national network along with FS1 and FS2. The Oct. 2 visit from Air Force and the Nov. 26 regular season finale against Utah State will be aired to national audiences.
The game against Utah State was moved to the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. Kickoff has been set for 11 a.m. and the game will air on FS1.
The road trip to Carson, Calif., to face San Diego State on Oct. 9 and the Nov. 20 trip to Boise State will also be broadcast. UNM’s Sept. 18 visit to Texas A&M will be aired on the SEC Network, giving the Lobos five games shown to live national audiences.
That leaves seven games without TV rights, although UNM’s four remaining games against Mountain West rivals (Oct. 16 vs. Colorado State, Oct. 23 at Wyoming, Nov. 6 vs. UNLV and Nov. 13 at Fresno State) can be picked up by the league’s third-tier partnership with Stadium, an online broadcasting network. An additional game, an early season road trip to UTEP on Sept. 25 at the Sun Bowl, has TV rights that belong to Conference USA and its partner entities.
The only games on UNM’s 2021 schedule without broadcast rights are the first two; the Sept. 2 opener against Houston Baptist and the Sept. 11 home game against New Mexico State, both at University Stadium. It will be the first meeting between the Lobos and Aggies since Sept. 21, 2019.
The game last season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That 2019 game also happened to be the last victory in then-coach Bob Davie’s tenure with New Mexico. The Lobos lost their final nine games, leading to Davie’s dismissal. It led to the hiring of Danny Gonzales on Dec. 17, 2019.
In his first season with the Lobos, UNM went 2-5 and snapped what was then the nation’s longest losing streak (14 games) by winning the final two games of the abbreviated 2020 season.
UNM’s struggles made it no surprise that the Lobos were left off the CBS broadcast schedule. The network announced a 32-game schedule that included at least two games for all 11 of the other MWC teams.
The Fox schedule gave at least two games to all but one Mountain West team.
The only exception was UNLV, which has seven games on the CBS plan. San Jose State and Boise State each had six games picked up by Fox while Air Force had five. No other teams had more than four.
Only two of UNM’s 12 games have set times for kickoffs; the trip to Texas A&M and the finale against Utah State. The season opener against Houston Baptist, which will be on a Thursday night and serve as the first home game in the Gonzales era, has not had a time or broadcast assigned to it. It’s the first of six home games, four of which are against Mountain West rivals.
LOBOS NOTESThe UNM baseball team opens a three-game series at home Friday against San Diego State. The teams will play a doubleheader Friday and a single game Saturday.
It will mark the final homestand in coach Ray Birmingham’s tenure with the Lobos. He announced in April he was retiring, ending a 14-year run with UNM that produced more than 400 wins.
He has won more than 1,200 games in a career that extends to earlier stops at New Mexico Junior College and College of the Southwest, both in Hobbs.
A New Mexico native who began his coaching career in high school in Las Cruces, he won a national title at NMJC and took the Thunderbirds to the JUCO World Series a second time before taking over at UNM in 2008.