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UNM: New Turf for '12, Not Later

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The University of New Mexico has selected FieldTurf as its new synthetic playing surface at University Stadium.

Pending approval from the state Board of Finance, athletic director Paul Krebs said on Friday, the turf will be installed in time for this season’s Sept. 1 football opener against Southern University.

The university will appear before the Board of Finance sometime late this week, Krebs said.

Sept. 1
Season opener: Southern at New Mexico, University Stadium, time and TV TBA

Tim Cass, UNM’s senior associate athletic director, said an Albuquerque firm, Westwind Landscape Construction, Inc., actually submitted the winning bid for installation and is subcontracting with FieldTurf.

Several companies manufacture artificial playing surfaces, but FieldTurf arguably is the most prominent. UNM already has FieldTurf in its Indoor Practice Facility and is planning to have it installed in its renovated baseball stadium.

An expenditure of $1.38 million was approved for the purpose in April. The project is being funded by 2012 severance bonds.

Synthetic turf at the football stadium was expected to cost around $1 million. Cass said he didn’t have a precise price tag because UNM also is installing new turf, natural or synthetic, on several other athletic fields, with more than one firm involved.

Cass said Mountain West Golfscapes, Inc., located in Peralta, was the low bidder for installation of new natural turf at the UNM soccer field.

THE SHRINKING O-LINE: Lobos offensive lineman Bryan Oldenkamp, a sophomore junior college transfer from California, will be ineligible this season.

That leaves the Lobos with seven eligible offensive lineman who participated in spring practice. Three freshman O-linemen are expected in the fall.

Normally, junior college transfers are eligible immediately.

“I don’t want to go into the details,” Lobos coach Bob Davie said, “but (Oldenkamp’s situation) is kind of unique.

“It wasn’t something that blind-sided us; it was something we knew.”

Oldenkamp will sit out the 2012 season as a redshirt and will be a sophomore when he regains eligibility in the fall of 2013.

WALTON IS A RED RAIDER: Former Lobos quarterback Dustin Walton says via Twitter that he’ll transfer to Texas Tech.

Walton left the UNM roster at the end of spring practice, saying he felt the Lobos’ new offense was a bad fit for him.

“I am so excited to run the Shotgun Spread again here at Tech!” Walton tweeted.

Walton is expected to be a walk-on at Tech, at least for the time being. He’ll have to sit out the 2012 season as a transfer, having already redshirted last fall at UNM. He’ll then have three years to play three seasons.

THE TV GAP: Davie said he was neither surprised nor overly concerned when it was announced that a 25-game Mountain West Conference national television package included none of the Lobos’ 13 games this fall.

“I think it’s such an ever-changing thing,” he said, “in the fact that the conference package really isn’t complete yet, and that the local package isn’t complete.

“I expect some of our games to be televised.”

Davie noted that the Lobos play twice in the state of Texas, against Texas on Sept. 8 and against Texas Tech on Sept. 15, followed by New Mexico-New Mexico State in Las Cruces on Sept. 22.

Texas and New Mexico, he said, are UNM’s prime recruiting areas.

“I would think all three of those games would have the opportunity to be televised,” Davie said.

Davie spent the past 10 years as a game analyst for ABC and ESPN before being hired at UNM last November. He noted that Boise State, which has won 38 games the past three seasons, will be on national television 10 times in 2012. The Lobos have won three games during that span.

“One thing I learned at ESPN,” he said, “is that if a team’s worth watching, if they think people want to watch that team, (the networks) will find a way.

“That’s our first priority, to put a team out there that people want to watch.”

PAYS THE SAME: Krebs said UNM will get the same payout from the Mountain West’s television package that every other MWC school will receive, regardless of the number of appearances.

“Whether you’re on TV or not doesn’t determine your revenue,” Krebs said. “Our conference shares revenues equally, whether it’s TV or shares of NCAA basketball (tournament) revenue that we generate.”

SCHEDULING: Conference realignment continues to poke holes in UNM’s nonconference schedule for upcoming years.

New Mexico had a home nonconference game scheduled with Nevada for this season, but the Wolf Pack are now a conference rival. With Nevada’s assistance, UNM filled that hole in its schedule with Texas State (Oct. 6).

Now, the Lobos have nonconference games scheduled at San Jose State in 2013 and at home against the Spartans in 2015. But SJSU recently was admitted to the Mountain West and will join the league in the fall of ’13.

“So,” said Cass, “we’re seeking a (nonconference) opponent for ’13, and we’ll be seeking one for ’15.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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