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UNM Victory Bell To Return

Alums Hope To Ring In Wins

The UNM victory bell will return to University Stadium, probably as soon as Saturday’s homecoming game.

Scott Jones, president of the UNM Alumni Lettermen’s Association, says his group has plans for the bell, which had been idle for years.

In this column last week, former Lobo Brad Bramer told of how he obtained the bell from former equipment manager Rudy Garcia and had used it as part of his UNM football tailgating.

Last year the alumni lettermen came under the UNM umbrella and, as part of the Pit renovation, got a space in the building.

That’s when UNM decided to reclaim the bell and hand it over to the alumni lettermen for their use, senior associate athletic director Tim Cass says.

“It was loaned to (Bramer) with the understanding it would be returned at any point,” Cass says.

“The lettermen don’t plan on hiding this bell,” Jones says.

Bramer, in last week’s column, expressed concern that no one would be able to see the bell in the lettermen’s lounge, but Jones says a lot of lettermen visit the lounge, especially on game days.

After being cut from Bramer’s tailgate trailer, the bell is being prepared to ring out Lobo successes as it did years ago.

There will be a bell, but will there be victories?

Lobo football has often starved for fragments of tradition.

In 1989, UNM even experimented with a real, live wolf to serve as a mascot.

Legend has it, New Mexico’s All-American receiver Terance Mathis was nipped by the wolf after he had thrown a block and rolled out of bounds.

“I’ve got tooth marks in my pants,” he said at the time.

Outside the stadium, large banners depict former Lobos Don Perkins, Brian Urlacher, Bobby Santiago and Robin Cole.

Inside the Tow Diehm facility, there are old jerseys and helmets, photos of ghost-like faces going back to the days when games were played at Zimmerman Field.

The history of Lobo football has had periods of success in between periods of drought.

We’re in such a drought.

A competitive game against Colorado State in the 2011 opener proved to be a tease. It was followed by the type of losses that have come to mark Mike Locksley’s 2-25 tenure.

Tellingly, Texas Tech Tommy Tuberville was genuinely worried about Saturday’s New Mexico game — partly because he believed his team had played poorly in its opener against Texas State, but also because the film he watched showed the Lobos making strides.

But the game got so out of hand that Tuberville felt free to wander down the sidelines in between the third and fourth quarters (with his team up 52-7) and chat casually with some boosters.

Now comes a homecoming match with Sam Houston State, which is ranked No. 20 in the Football Championship Series (what we used to call Division I-AA).

There’s a Lobo desperation that can be sensed all the way to Huntsville, Texas, where the 2-0 Bearkats, an option, blitz-happy bunch, must be salivating at the thought of taking down a bigger school.

Perhaps the Lobos will come out in throwback uniforms to mark the homecoming.

Perhaps they can resurrect the turquoise uniforms of the 1970s, the kind worn by the likes of Robin Cole.

Perhaps they will bring back the old Lobo logo, the mean one, the one with the fangs, the one former AD Rudy Davalos axed because he said was too difficult for printers and manufacturers to reproduce.

And maybe the bell will ring.

Jones would like to bring the bell into the Pit for basketball games as well.

It’s got to work better than bringing in the wolf.

Prior to one UNM basketball practice, the actual lobo stood on the Pit floor and let out a howl — a howl so terrifying that Lobo guard Darrell McGee sprinted up the ramp to safety.

Jones says Lobo lettermen will gather before the game in their lounge at the Pit, the same place the victory bell now calls home during the week.

He welcomes all lettermen and says Perkins is among the frequent former Lobos who stop by.

Players — great ones like Perkins, Cole, Urlacher and Santiago – have come and gone and left their legacy on a weary program.

UNM athletic directors come and go. Lobo football coaches come and go. Some retain an allegiance to cherry and silver, some do not.

The victory bell has come, gone and will be back.

The linchpin is the regular Lobo football fan — that sturdy, long-suffering soul — and whether they come or whether they go.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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