There's no point in revisiting that decision. At the time, the Western Athletic Conference that the Aggies were joining was clearly superior to the Sun Belt Conference that they were leaving, and represented a step up for NMSU athletics. Nobody could have envisioned the fundamental shakeup of college athletic conferences these past few years that has left both the WAC and the Aggies on the outside looking in.
While NMSU Athletics Director McKinley Boston made the best of a bad situation, cobbling together what should be an entertaining schedule for the coming season when the Aggies will play as an independent, that was never a viable long-term solution.
"I'm not sure we could have sustained an independent schedule beyond the academic year of 2013," Boston said. "We leveraged a lot of relationships to put together what I think is a very credible and outstanding schedule. But friends will only pick up the phone so many times when you're begging."
The Aggies needed a home. And, they found one this week with a return to the Sun Belt Conference.
NMSU and Idaho from the WAC will join Appalachian State and Georgia Southern in a new 12-team football conference beginning in 2014.
It's still not an ideal situation. While the football team will move to the Sun Belt, all other teams will remain in the WAC. In the long run, bringing all teams into the same conference should be a goal.
We give Boston and other NMSU administrators credit for that. And, frankly, we question whether it would have happened had former President Barbara Couture still been leading the process.
The Aggies bring a lot to the table. Aggie Memorial Stadium, which seats more than 30,000 and has had recent upgrades to its lighting and locker room facilities, is easily on par with other schools of its size. AggieVision broadcasts games on Comcast cable channels in New Mexico, along with the Altitude and My50 TV networks, and on the Internet.
But, there's no question that for the program to increase its appeal, the team needs to have more success on the field each Saturday.
That should be possible in the Sun Belt, a conference where the Aggies finished with a winning record in three of their four years. They have been a combined 8-44 since then.
There is a new coach this year in Doug Martin and will be a new conference next year.
A fresh start would appear to be just what the Aggies and their fans need.
Las Cruces Sun-News, March 31