ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Brad Bramer opened holes for the likes of Sam Scarber and Rocky Long to run through, there was a bell that would clang and the reverberations would fill University Stadium.
It would ring when the Lobos scored, when they got a first down, anytime there was a surge of energy.
“It was a great sounding noise,” Bramer says. “It was part of the team, part of the enthusiasm.”
That was in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Then, it fell silent.
The subject of the bell came up at the retirement for Lobo equipment manager Rudy Garcia a couple of years ago.
“What ever happened to that bell?” Bramer asked Garcia.
“It’s in storage,” Garcia told the former offensive lineman.
And Garcia went on to explain he had mentioned the bell to various UNM administrators and football coaches over the years.
Garcia thought it would be a plus to resurrect a little football tradition at a school badly in need of it.
But no one seemed interested in waking its echoes. It remained banished.
So when Bramer asked Garcia about it, Garcia figured no one else cared.
“You want it?” Garcia asked.
The ex-Lobo and current real estate agent thought it would be perfect for his tailgating plans. He already had a trailer, a 16-foot former car hauler, that he had transformed into a party machine, complete with a grill, and hot and cold running water.
For two football seasons, the bell was part of the fun again.
“You wouldn’t believe the enthusiasm,” Bramer says.
Then UNM suddenly decided it wanted the bell.
Garcia didn’t have the authority to give it to Bramer’s tailgaters, UNM declared. So give it back.
While he thought it was kind of silly they suddenly had an interest, Bramer couldn’t disagree, and on the Monday before the season-opener against Colorado State, the bell was confiscated.
“All of a sudden,” Bramer says, “the Lobo Club and the powers-that-be have this great need to have the bell.
“From what I understand, they took it to the new lettermen’s lounge in the Pit. They picked up the bell and put it in the lounge, where nobody will see it. Lettermen don’t even go there.
“So it sits in the lettermen’s lounge, unappreciated by the public, the football team, the fans. It just sits.”
Bramer’s a letterman and a Lobo for life and says it’s not his intent to speak ill of anyone at UNM.
But sometimes he wonders if the school’s administration goes overboard in micromanaging every aspect of attending a game.
“We took our trailer down to Las Cruces,” Bramer says, “found a place to park, and we were better received by New Mexico State officials than we are here.
“We had a great time. It was wonderful. We come back to our own field and it’s: What are they going to tell us not to do now.”
All Bramer wanted to do was liven up the tailgate area a bit.
He was a regular fan showing a little initiative, trying to do the same thing UNM presumably is trying to do — ring in a little enthusiasm for Lobo football.
Think of the bell incident as a symbol of college sports, and the haves and the have-nots.
Bramer worries that regular fans are not part of the “in” crowd at UNM. The big-money boosters get what they want, when they want it, and everybody else just has to go along.
Before the CSU game, Bramer had his party as usual. The UNM marching band, as customary, came by and played the school fight song. Bramer had a little hand-ringing cowbell that he shook every now and again.
Fans asked Bramer about the real bell.
He had to report: It’s out of play again. — This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal