Always doing what we always do

© 2016 Jim Spence - Michael’s column this week strikes up a conversation we have had many times over the years, dating all the way back to his solo radio show days. It is wise to scrutinize the idea of whether NMSU’s scheduling of football opponents for big paydays makes sense. Michael and I have opined on the topic for years and neither of us thinks it is a good idea. We have suggested that if NMSU cannot schedule a home and home arrangement with another school, NMSU should make no scheduling deal.
We have watched NMSU the institution, operate for the last fifty years. The case made by administrators for playing “money” games, which Michael better describes as “selling losses” goes something like this: "NMSU needs the money because NMSU simply does not have the resources to compete." This is basically the argument. Amazingly, NMSU the institution, has chosen to be a money whore for two or three games each year to ”make ends meet.” Unfortunately this is pretty much what prostitutes choose to do. They sell themselves to "make ends meet."
Let’s give NMSU administrators some credit. Let’s assume there is some logic to playing money games. If this tactic is reasonable, the process should eventually lead to a positive outcome. It has not. Instead, playing only enough money games to “get by” each season has resulted in NMSU making ZERO bowl game appearances for more than fifty years. This is unmatched futility. It does not merely suggest institutional failure, it confirms the false premise of thinking playing the role of prostitute a couple times a year is a legitimate long-term strategy.
To be fair, the current administration at NMSU inherited a big mess that has been snowballing. A.D. Mario Moccia is still paying for the previous A.D.'s mistakes and Moccia has no authority to implement a long range plan. None of the predecessor presidents at NMSU, who were responsible for decision-making for NMSU football, ever implemented a plan for success. The atrocious hire of Barbara Couture truly accelerated NMSU’s decline, including the loss of several conference affiliations, which is the surest sign of institutional failure. One cannot overstate the horrific damage previous A.D. McKinley Boston did to NMSU athletics through neglect.
Why did Boston and Couture fail so miserably? They always did what NMSU always did.....or worse.
Let’s assume selling losses/prostituting the program for money games makes sense. If this actually makes sense, and the Aggies are going to loose their conference affiliation after this year anyway, why not play only UTEP and UNM each season and use the rest of the schedule to arrange ten huge money games. Why settle for two paydays to merely get by? The Aggie Athletic Department with the blessing of the administration, could pocket close to ten million dollars per year (after cutting expenses to the bone), and move towards the goal of building a quarter of a billion dollar football endowment over time. In perhaps fifteen years or so, NMSU could have a gigantic permanent endowment that would be capable of funding a competitive football team EVERY year. There would be no more “getting by” or living hand-to-mouth until the end of time.
Strangely enough, I floated this idea in the early 1990’s. The responses were predictable. Successful business-people who have built winning organizations and understand the need for adequate long term capital liked the plan. They saw the wisdom of committing to a long range self-funding plan, to one day accumulate the resources required to be competitive. However, virtually every highly paid bureaucrat immediately searched for reasons why instituting a long range self-funding plan just couldn't be done. It is the classic “Can’t do, stay inside the box,” mindset. I am not sure why people who think like this should be paid $275,000 a year by NMSU. But that is roughly what the institution paid Boston to find ways to do nothing.
If this strategy had simply been implemented in the early 1990’s, when the idea was first floated, NMSU would ALREADY have a gigantic football endowment. And it would have accomplished this without having played any fewer bowl games over the last twenty five years....than NMSU played anyway.......with nothing but lost conference affiliations to show for it.
In the end, NMSU the institution seems plagued by the same sort of inertia that leads to always doing what it has always done. And NMSU the institution, also seems destined to always get what it has always gotten.
Doug Martin has done a great job this year with impressive football wins over UTEP and UNM. But there is still no long range plan to get competitive financially.