Attendance for Utah State's football program has risen steadily the last four years largely because of an improved team that rose under the coaching of Gary Andersen. The student section in particular, straight-up rocks. Most of the students stayed for the Weber State homecoming game despite the cold rain and the hairy result for the Wildcats.
Needless to say, everything is looking pretty good for the Aggies these days. It certainly doesn't hurt that season ticket sales are at an all-time high.
Unfortunately, it's not nearly as sunny a situation for New Mexico State's football program in Las Cruces.
NMSU President Garrey Carruthers recently announced cash incentives will be offered as prizes to students who stay through the fourth quarter of the home football games. Prizes worth $2,000 and $250, along with a premium parking pass good for any lot on campus, are at stake.
This is a rather unsurprising move. New Mexico State hasn't been to a bowl game in decades, and its last winning season was in 2002 as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. And game attendance has been rather dismal, averaging about 2,500 and 3,000, according to the school president.
In just the last few years under former head coach DeWayne Walker, who left for the Jacksonville Jaguars after the 2012 season, the NMSU Aggies got progressively worse. There was a faint glimmer of hope after nearly reaching five wins in 2011, but any enthusiasm gained from that year quickly turned sour.
The Aggies' only victory last year came in a blowout, home-opening win over Sacramento State 49-19. They never won again and suffered numerous embarrassing losses to San Jose State, Ohio, BYU and Auburn. Even Idaho, which also went 1-11 last season, managed to beat them.
If the fan situation isn't already bad enough for NMSU, ESPN host Keith Olbermann lambasted NMSU President Carruthers as the worst person in the sports world.
“In NCAA college football you can pay the coaches, you can pay the ADs, you can pay the announcers, yet you can’t pay the players, but now you can pay the fans too!” an outraged Olbermann told his ESPN audience. “New Mexico State University’s Garrey ‘We-will-bribe-you-to-sit-through-this-garbage’ Carruthers. Today’s worst person in the sports world.”
New Mexico State's football program is hurting badly. Let's just happily attend the great home games Utah State has this season in Romney Stadium and be thankful that what's going on in Las Cruces isn't playing out in Logan.
Sam McConkie is a technical and professional writing graduate from Utah State University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org