“Nobody believed in us.”
Boy, talk about one of the biggest cliches in college football? Seems like every team who has ever found a single shred of doubt during the season about whether they would achieve what they did claims that phrase.
But when it comes to the New Mexico State Aggies… really and truly, nobody believed in them.
Not outside of Las Cruces anyway.
“We don’t know that the future will be any brighter than the past for this struggling football program, but we know that there is a future, and we know that the Aggies have a coach that wants to be their coach. That’s something.”
“If they win a couple of games, find their quarterback, and at least don’t regress defensively (and yes, it is technically possible to regress), then that’s probably enough for now.”
“If you’re an NMSU fan, you are the patient type. The impatient ones jumped off the bandwagon long ago, if they ever jumped on to begin with. NMSU should reward that patience with hints of upside in 2015, but the payoff is still at least another year away.”
“It only takes a couple of ifs to make NMSU a bowl contender, and the Aggies are due some good breaks. We’ll know a lot about their future in the coming weeks, but this fall, the present could be more enjoyable than it has been in recent years.”
“I admire NMSU for attempting to press forward regardless of obvious reason for hope. Here’s to hoping the Aggies are rewarded for it, however briefly.”
Those are all from SBN’s Bill Connelly over his last five years of previews. Bill is one of the more level-headed pundits in the college football universe, and one of the more ardent NMSU supporters in recent times. When even he struggles to unearth true positives in his predictions, the odds of having many other believers outside your alumni base is poor.
(This is where I take a moment and pat myself on the back since I predicted that the Aggies would go 6-6, including picking every game correctly. Yay me.)
So now we head into waters that are, indeed, “UNCHARTED”.
This reference, of course, is quite fitting for these Aggies. When was the last time they were heading into the season coming off a bowl victory the previous year?
When the oldest coach on their coaching staff (defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani) was just entering middle school.
Logically, though, your first bowl game in 57 years means the first time for a lot of other things in 57 years. It’s “only” been 51 years since their last back-to-back winning records; “only” 20 years since they last had to replace a great running back; “only” 12 years since they last replaced a strong quarterback.
More to the point, a lot of the “last time X happened” moments for this current Aggies squad have now graduated from things they’ve only seen about on their walls and in their media guides to things they just did last year.
Time to puff up your chest and be proud, right?
Not if Head coach Doug Martin has anything to say about it.
Coach Martin is speaking true words when he gives this pep talk. New Mexico State doesn’t recruit players that get dozens of other offers; they recruit players who want to play for an underdog, or who themselves are overlooked just as much as NMSU.
They are an independent program on a geographical island, and their mantra is “Good. Bring It.”
So what does that mean for this season? I would imagine it means that these Aggies look around and are unconcerned.
Dalton Harrington won’t be back on defense, but Terrill Hanks is. Shamad Lomax, Malik Demby, CJ Wilcots II, Jahvan Fergurson and Ron LaForce are all back too. They aren’t worried.
Last season’s trifecta of Larry Rose III, Tyler Rogers and Jaleel Scott won’t be back. But Nick Jeanty will be, and he’s been here before; Jason Huntley will be, and he showed real promise last year.
Izaiah Lottie, Anthony Muse, OJ Clark and four-fifths of last year’s offensive line are back for another shot as well.
Last year should have taught the country something about underrating the Aggies, yet College Football News, Athlon, and even Bill C. himself are hesitant to give the Aggies too much credit, ranking them 122nd, 114th and 100th in the preseason, respectively.
This Aggie team returns a whole bunch of players who have graduated from “being told how to win” to “knowing how to win”; they also face an easier schedule.
You’ll see. They’re going to do it again this year, but even better.
Keep an eye out for “UNCHARTED” as well, a four-part miniseries that begins this coming week as a lead-up to the home opener against Wyoming.
Prediction: 9-3 (W, L, L, W, W, W, W, W, W, W, L, W)