As we wait to hear if the Big 12 has returned the call from Grand Poobah Paul Krebs, we turn our thoughts to the promise of the 2016 UNM football season.
SOUTH DAKOTA, Sept. 1: First up is a Thursday night special against the Coyotes – not to be confused with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits who beat the 16th-ranked Lobos in basketball in the Pit in 2012.
The Coyotes have a new coach in Bob Nielsen, who won two NCAA Division II titles (2008, 2010) with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. The locals in Vermillion (population 10,571, the 11th largest city in South Dakota) reportedly wanted a flashier hire.
Lobos win (1-0).
At NMSU, Sept. 10: Would Larry Rose III run as sweet with any other name?
Lobos win (2-0).
At RUTGERS, Sept. 17: Starting this year, football coaches can be ejected from a game after receiving two unsportsmanlike penalties.
There’s no truth to the rumor that former Scarlet Knights basketball coach Mike Rice (banished for his histrionics) was going to coach the Rutgers linebackers before the new rule nixed that idea.
Lobos lose (2-1).
SAN JOSE STATE, Oct. 1: Tyler Ervin, an aspiring barber who cut up UNM with 263 rushing yards last year, has mercifully set up shop with the Houston Texans.
Lobos win (3-1).
BOISE STATE, Oct. 7: The Broncos are the BYU Cougars of yesteryear – the darlings of the league, the team you never beat. Well, almost. Markel Byrd’s tackle last year saved the day for the Lobos.
Rest in peace, Markel.
Lobos lose (3-2).
AIR FORCE, Oct. 15 in the Cotton Bowl: Yes, the Cotton Bowl – home of a Packers-Cowboys NFL title game. Home of the Notre Dame-Texas showdowns of the 1970s. Bear Bryant coached there. Joe Montana and Bo Jackson played there.
And so did Ramon Flanigan, who threw two TD passes and ran for two more as SMU spanked UNM and Gary Patterson’s defense in 1996.
Lobos lose (3-3).
ULM, Oct. 22: The Warhawks beat Alabama in 2007 and Arkansas in 2012. They’ll probably beat Auburn in 2017.
But not the Lobos in 2016.
Lobos win (4-3).
At HAWAII, Oct. 29: In 1923, Hawaii upset Oregon State and a rainbow appeared over the field, prompting a nickname for the football team.
They officially became the Rainbow Warriors in 1974. The team dropped the “Rainbow” in 2000 because the athletic director said it confused the football program with the gay community, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and Jeff Gordon’s Rainbow Warrior NASCAR team.
In 2013, the “Rainbow” reappeared. Hawaii has won five football games since.
Lobos win (5-3).
NEVADA, Nov. 5: First it’s Wolf Pack vs. Wolfpack. Days later it’s Clinton vs. Trump. How will we survive until then?
Lobos lose (5-4).
At UTAH STATE, Nov. 12: Logan, Utah, is the safest metropolitan area in the country. It’s not so safe for visiting football teams who are 5-26 against the Aggies in Logan the past five seasons.
Lobos lose (5-5).
At COLORADO STATE, Nov. 19: CSU is getting new digs, so the Lobos will make their last visit to Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium – site of Mike Sheppard’s only win as a UNM coach outside of the state of New Mexico. The winner goes to the Big 12.
Lobos lose (5-6).
WYOMING, Nov. 26: The pressure is on. Win and go bowling for the second straight year. Lose and we turn our attention to Lobo basketball – Mike Bradbury style.
Lobos win (6-6).
MARSHALL, Dec. 17: The Herd Thunder into Albuquerque for the New Mexico Bowl. Randy Moss catches a glimpse of Brian Urlacher on the sideline and flinches out of reflex.
Lobos win (7-6).