The New Mexico State Aggies will play as an FBS Independent for the 2013 season, NMSU athletics director McKinley Boston told the Las Cruces Sun-News on Monday.
“We are planning on operating in the fall of 2013 as an independent football program unless something happens,” McKinley stated. He went on to say that they are “…scheduling for independent football in 2013 and possibly 2014.”
“Unless something happens” likely means if the Aggies get invited to a conference, and that doesn’t appear likely at this point. Both the MWC and the Sun Belt have stated they will not expand further this year.
New Mexico State and Idaho are the only two current football-playing members of the WAC that did not have a conference home in 2013. The Vandals will also likely play as an Independent in 2013 after the State Board approved the move on Friday. Idaho also has the option of joining the Big Sky without going to the board.
The WAC will drop football in 2013 because there won’t be any football-playing members remaining. Boise State departed the conference in 2011, followed by Fresno State, Hawaii, and Nevada in 2012. Next season, Texas State heads to the Sun Belt, Louisiana Tech and UTSA to C-USA, and San Jose State and Utah State join the MWC.
As an Independent, New Mexico State will face the same dilemma as Idaho. That is, putting together a competitive football schedule. The Aggies are currently slated to host UTEP and travel to New Mexico, Texas, and UCLA. The Sun-News reports that NMSU could also play a home-and-home series, in the same year, against Idaho.
“People have been cooperative,” Boston said. “We currently have commitments for nine-12 games.” If NMSU has a commitment from Idaho to play twice, that leaves 3-6 opponents that have agreed to play the Aggies.
As we noted last week, NCAA rule 18.104.22.168 stipulates that FBS football teams must schedule 60% of their games against other FBS members. Member institutions must also play five home games against FBS opponents. That means three schools have committed to playing in Las Cruces.