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Alford: Realignment Hurts College Athletics

UNM coach says realignment hurts colleges

With San Diego State and Boise State bolting the Mountain West Conference – the fourth and fifth teams to do so within just more than two years – the league is left trying to figure out its next step. Again.

For a men’s basketball-driven school like New Mexico, it can be extremely frustrating. Steve Alford’s program is the cherry atop UNM’s athletic program, but there’s nothing the coach can do about the flurry of conference realignment.

“It’s totally football-driven, and it’s obviously very frustrating and there’s not much we can do on the basketball side except sit back and wait,” Alford said. “It’s a very unfortunate thing that’s happening throughout our country. They’re messing with college athletics that have been pretty special for decades upon decades.

New Mexico at Southern Cal, 5 p.m.. TV: DirecTV (694), Dish (411), Comcast (264, at 11:30 p.m.). Radio: KKOB-AM (770)

“What we’re doing to the landscape of college athletics, in my mind, is not good.

“Everybody is trying to jump at all the TV money and that kind of thing. I hope everybody gets paid. I think down the road, four or five years from now, we’re going to sit back and say, ‘what in the world happened?’

“You’re just tearing up all the rivalries built over the last century.”

In the case of the Aztecs and Broncos, the football programs are heading to the Big East Conference, but the rest of their sports to other leagues. San Diego State is rumored to be heading to the Big West in all sports but football while Boise State’s non-football programs head to the Western Athletic Conference.

“I’m not in favor of any of it,” Alford says. “It’s not the right thing to do for college athletics, but it seems to be the direction we’re going.”

TV TIME: Albuquerqueans need to do a little scrambling to watch the telecast of the Lobos’ game at USC on Saturday. The game is being broadcast by Fox West/Prime Ticket, and will be shown live on DirecTV (694) and Dish (411), but won’t be live on Comcast. The UCLA/Penn game will be on instead of the Lobos’ game on Comcast channel 264. The UNM-USC game, however, will be shown on tape-delay on Comcast 264 at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.

GREENWOOD SECOND: Lobo freshman point guard Hugh Greenwood is second in the nation in assist-turnover ratio – but that’s not good enough to lead the Mountain West Conference.

Greenwood’s ratio is 4.8-to-1 (24 assists, five turnovers), which is second to Wyoming JayDee Luster, who leads the country at 7.4-to-1 (37 assists and five turnovers).

MCDONALD UPDATE: Senior guard Phillip McDonald, hampered by an ankle injury all season, practiced on Wednesday and is probable for Saturday’s game at USC (4-5).

The Lobos (6-2) then have a week off before playing against Oklahoma State (5-2) on Dec. 17 in Oklahoma City and Alford says it’s important to get McDonald ready soon.

“This is a crucial two-game stretch,” Alford said. “We’ve got him healthy and get him playing. Once we get past Oklahoma State, we’re 10 games in and we’ve only got six left before we start league play. We want to get into some type of rotational rhythm. I would anticipate, before we get to Christmas break, we have to know that we’ve got some kind of healthy Phillip McDonald. He’s working hard with it. … It’s just been a nagging injury, and he turned it again against Missouri State on Saturday.”

PEREZ UPDATE: Walk-on sophomore Chris Perez has sat out practice for the last couple of weeks after having an appendectomy. He says he hopes to practice again in the next week or two.
Alford Dislikes Moves

lobo basketball
— This article appeared on page D2 of the Albuquerque Journal