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UNM in talks to renew rivalry with Miners

New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs and his UTEP counterpart, Bob Stull, said Wednesday they are in talks to renew and solidify the schools’ venerable football and men’s basketball rivalries.


UNM AD Paul Krebs, left, wants to renew rivalry with UTEP. UTEP AD Bob Stull, right, says UNM rivalry is “a natural.”

The two schools are separated by just a 3½-hour drive and have a long, mutual athletic history. But they have met just four times in men’s basketball the past 15 years and eight times in football.

Stull said he’d like to see the rivalry become what it has been in the past.

“It’s just a natural,” Stull said at Wednesday’s Gildan New Mexico Bowl luncheon; the Miners will play Utah State in the Dec. 20 bowl game at University Stadium. “… What we’d like to do is get some kind of long-range arrangement where you’re not every two years trying to negotiate a contract.”

Football? No problem, though previously contracted nonconference games indicate the rivalry cannot be resumed until 2018. The schools just completed a two-game, home-and-home contract.

Miners football coach Sean Kugler said that after this year’s game, won by UTEP 31-24 on Aug. 30, he and Lobos coach Bob Davie talked about resuming the rivalry.

“I would love to continue playing New Mexico,” Kugler said.

Basketball? Big problem, given that UNM coach Craig Neal has said repeatedly he will not schedule the Miners as long as he is at New Mexico and coach Tim Floyd is at UTEP.

Neal (then an assistant to Steve Alford) and Floyd were party to a heated argument over practice time at the Pit in March 2011, when UTEP played UNM in an NIT game.

Nonetheless, Krebs said he and Stull are serious about renewing a men’s basketball rivalry that began in 1929 and thrived through mutual membership in the Border (1935-51) and Western Athletic (1967-99) Conferences.

“I think there’s a recognition on both Bob’s part and our part that it’s a great regional rivalry, (with) great history between the two schools,” Krebs said.

“… It’s probably in the best interest of both schools and our fan bases, and economically, that we look to be playing each other on a more regular basis.”

Of Neal’s stated objection to resuming the UTEP series, Krebs said: “I’m not going to speak for Craig. Obviously there was a heated game a couple of years ago, but time has a way of changing things. … Hopefully we can find some dates and some years that will work in both football and basketball.

“I think it’s a good series, if we can make it work.”