New Mexico State has yet to make its first trip to the mecca of college football, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Meanwhile, the Aggies already are planning for their second.
The return date to Alabama is the first “buy” game the Aggies have agreed to for 2021.
There likely will be a second for that season, as reluctant as Moccia is to do it. In an ideal world, the Aggies by then would be in a league that gave them eight conference games a year. NMSU’s nonconference schedule could include one buy game, a home game against a Football Championship Subdivision (example: Incarnate Word at New Mexico) opponent, and the annual contests against rivals UNM and UTEP.
Alas, the Aggies are playing as an independent after getting booted from the Sun Belt Conference after last football season; buy games are “how we’ve balanced our budget eight of the last 10 years and are paying down our deficit (to main campus),” he said.
As of the fiscal year that ended June 30, NMSU athletics owned $3.167 million to main campus, Moccia said, and has a payment schedule to eliminate the obligation over the better part of the next decade.
In their 2019 schedule, the Aggies even have a third buy game — at Alabama and Ole Miss ($1.5 million, per the Las Cruces Sun-News) to pay down debt, and an Aug. 31 opener at Washington State ($600,000) just because it just needed another game.
In 2020, New Mexico State will get paid to play at UCLA and Florida. Moccia said that season’s 12-game schedule is finalized, pending the return of contracts. Moccia said NMSU has nine games set for 2021.
This year, the 0-3 Aggies received $800,000 for the 48-10 loss at Minnesota on Aug. 30 and will get $700,000 more to go to BYU on Nov. 17.
Alabama has won five (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017) of the past nine national championships and is 2-0 and the top-ranked team heading into its Saturday SEC contest at Ole Miss.