The odds are stacked in the Big 12 ever turning it’s head New Mexico’s way, but it hasn’t stopped the school from winking across the bar at the conference.
New Mexico has written the Big 12 a letter pitching itself as a viable candidate for the conference if the Big 12 expands. All signs point to the Big 12 expanding — and sooner rather than later — but it seems pretty unlikely the conference would consider the Lobos.
But we give UNM points for trying. Here’s an excerpt from the letter obtained by the Albuquerque Journal:
Sports reporters, ESPN broadcasters, and all the other outlets are advancing many names for possible Big 12 expansion. None of those universities or colleges can match the athletic and academic prowess of the University of New Mexico, a school which is not only within the Big 12’s regional footprint, but is a research institution with a diverse student population and a rich cultural history. UNM fits the core values of the conference’s peer institutions and has a collegiate fan base and media base to match.
The letter also touts the following:
• The school’s research ranking, second to Texas Tech in a hypothetical Big 12 that includes UNM
• Its 2011-12 finish in the Learfield Director’s Cup. Yes, five years ago, but we’re not going to fault UNM for selling itself.
• The number of athletic and academic All-Americans (184) in the past 10 years as well as conference championships (36).
• A television market that’s No. 48 in the country. The letter points out the ranking is higher than Louisville (in the ACC), Memphis, Tulsa and Honolulu and “comparable” to Oklahoma City.
It also notes New Mexico’s six bowl appearances in the last 14 years. While that statistics is true, the team’s New Mexico Bowl appearance after the 2015 season was the first bowl appearance for the team since the New Mexico Bowl following the 2007 season.
New Mexico last left the state for a bowl game after the 2004 season when it went to the Emerald Bowl. It’s not a stretch to say that football is a giant consideration for realignment, especially since the possibility of football-only membership in the conference has been discussed. While New Mexico may stack up well in non-revenue sports, it’s probably only better than Kansas and Iowa State in the Big 12 heading to 2016.
The school certainly does make some sense from a geographic standpoint; it’d be relatively close to Texas Tech in the southwest corridor and certainly closer than BYU is to any other schools. But neither Memphis or Cincinnati is too far out of the conference’s geography given West Virginia’s inclusion in the conference.
Plus, Memphis has guaranteed sponsorship dollars with FedEx while Cincinnati’s television market dwarfs that of New Mexico’s.
But we can’t fault New Mexico at all for thinking big. Who knows, maybe the Big 12 will surprise us and talk up the Lobos as a major candidate. But, given that this is expansion and the Big 12, it also wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the conference change its mind again and decide not to expand at all.
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