New Mexico State to play as FBS Independent in 2013

By Kevin Kelley -

New Mexico StateThe 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 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.

Comments (24)

Are you sure about the rule requiring five home games vs FBS opponents? MTSU and North Texas each only have four home games vs FBS opponents?

There is an exception to rule Exception that allows an FBS team to count one home game against an FCS team to fulfill the requirement of provided that FCS team has averaged 90% of max permissible scholarships per year over a rolling two-year period.

I’m sure both MTSU and UNT are using that exception to fulfill their requirement.

I guess the Sun Belt is still hurt when NMSU and Idaho left them for the WAC back in 2005?

If a couple of Sun Belt teams move on to C-USA, Idaho and NMSU will start looking a little better.

they were both safe and secure in the Sun Belt and chose to leave. The Sun Belt is still around and the WAC is dead…. they chose poorly

The Sun Belt will never take Idaho and probably NMSU as well. Too many other options that make sense. Both are going to be independent for a really long time probably. Imagine Idaho finally gives in and joins the Big Sky in football eventually.

I actually think NMSU has a great chance to get in the sun belt. NMSU expands the sun belt conference footprint into new mexico. It’s a boost in tv market. They also get the school almost immediately and they don’t have to wait for transition to finish. I think NMSU reason for not being in the sun Belt right now is that the conference can’t figure who the 12 team should be for football.

There are 6 football stadiums that each hold more people than the entire city of Las Cruces….

look it at this way why would a sun belt game be shown in new mexico at all know? while it’s true population wise that it brings in very few tv sets. it does give them a reason to spread the sun belt tv market into another state and be shown on more tvs is what any conference wants. The sun belts main problem is that they are spread over two big conferences natural tv territory (the big 12 and SEC) while new mexico could be classified as big 12 territory they have no school prescience in states. You also have to figure out that it opens the sun belt to further expansion in the case of them losing FAU. They do not have to look solely at the south east to expand but are able to look at schools like northern arizonia for possible expansion areas/

I get that New Mexico State and Idaho to a TV contract are worthless…worse even since they take money and don’t contribute, but if you’re the Mountain West, wouldn’t going from 10 to 12 to get a conference championship game pretty much cancel that out? Idaho and that stadium probably need to go to the Big Sky. New Mexico State’s best bet is that either the Big East or the Big 12 take Air Force and then maybe they’ll be more receptive to adding New Mexico State to fill that spot. I’m fairly certain the Sun Belt would just take another 1-AA team before they took New Mexico State.

“if you’re the Mountain West, wouldn’t going from 10 to 12 to get a conference championship game pretty much cancel that out?”

Short answer: No. Conference title games are pretty big moneymakers for the top conferences; not so much for conferences like the MWC.

I hope these two teams (NMSU and Idaho) get picked up by a conference for 2013. I love how so many hate how the landscape of NCAA football is changing by teams switching conferences but enjoy kicking small market teams by saying the same thing they supposedly hate (making fun of how they do not bring money or tv market to any conference). I wish it did not always have to be about money but we feed in to it when we want to use it. These two teams need a conference and hopefully they will find one soon.

Neither Idaho nor NMSU can remain as independent football programs for long. There are just too many scheduling problems. I think Idaho will eventually see the handwriting on the wall and rejoin the Big Sky in football. New Mexico State might be a good fit with the Sun Belt, but I think Conference USA would be better for them. Their close rival, UTEP, is a member of Conference USA.

Unfortunately for me, with all of this realignment, Idaho and NMSU will eventually stop playing each other regularly. My daughter graduated from Idaho, and I have a Master’s degree from NMSU. We have an annual bet on the outcome of the game, but that little bit of fun is soon to end, I’m afraid.


A lot of us were hoping that the sunbelt would pickup nmsu and Appalachian state and give us 2 divisions but for some reason commissioner Benson wasn’t interested. I knew the former commissioner of the sunbelt, wright waters and he would have been interested in these 2 but for some reason new commissioner benson who came from the WAC wasn’t. Maybe he knows something that we don ‘t Anyway, good luck to nmsu and I haven’t got a clue what will happen to Idaho?? Barry/ark state alum.

Idaho really should just drop to FCS and join the Big Sky. They fit perfectly there, they were there before and with their stadium size and budget it seems much more logical.

I’m not sure about New Mexico State’s situation, but the Sun Belt and Conference USA both appear to make sense. But both of those leagues are bringing in new members — C-USA is losing a bunch also, I forget if the Sun Belt is — and perhaps they need to take a breath for a year or so before they decide which route to take going forward. C-USA might make more sense because of UTEP’s presence, but will the Miners be in the Mountain West some day soon? So hard to guess …

NMSU has pretty much buried their chances for a conference affiliation any time soon. Historically, they’ve been vetoed by UTEP and/or UNM when attempting to join a conference in which one, or both, is an active member. That rules out Conference USA and Mountain West. Another suggested possibility is the Sun Belt Conference. But NMSU the Sun Belt and joined the WAC which in now attending its own funeral. And too, the present Sun Belt Commissioner is the former WAC Commish has stated his negative position on offering a spot to the Aggies. NMSU’s athletic director has recently announced that the Aggies will become an independent football program in 2013 (and probably ’14) and there is no street rumor about joining any conference, anywhere. While moving to FCS status (Div II) is a possibility, it is doubtful for a number of financial and political reasons. So it looks like a rough road ahead for Aggie football.

“While moving to FCS status (Div II)…”

FCS is still Division I, just the lower subdivision.


Here the deal acc accepted norte dame as member in all sports execpt football. the ncaa should pass a rule that all conferences that support all there members must complete in the conference. That what should happening make the big east non football school get football programs, that if they have a program with in 5 years they sports must complete in divison2. this would bring back boise st, san diego st back to mwc. than have new mexico st join the conference and have idaho return to the sky conference. than hawaii will become a full member in mwc. than have utsa join the mwc. have the wac merge with pcc or wcc.

The wac could to return to football with in 2020. By doing this having univ san franciso, long beach st, caif- fullerton, santa clara, loyola marymount, univ. denver, tx- arlington, california -santa barbara and gonzaga, pacific return there football programs. they would be in some of top markets like sf,l.a. denver, dallas,.

I think that New Mexico State and Idaho should be in the Mountain west conference New Mexico State would be in the Mountain division and Idaho would be in the west division that would make sense