ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 5: Aron White #81 of the Georgia Bulldogs gets stuck in the hedges after scoring a touchdown against the New Mexico State Aggies at Sanford Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Athens, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
It seems Miner Nation is split in terms of whether they think the Miners belong in the Mountain West, or in C-USA. If you want to feel much better about the Miners' place in the college landscape, read this op-ed from Aggie fan Paul Myerberg:
"There’s only one thing this team can do: go out and win the whole damn thing. Beat New Mexico — again. Knock off UTEP. Kick the snot out of Texas-San Antonio, the Aggies’ short-lived conference rival. Beat Louisiana Tech. Sail past Texas State, showing the Sun Belt what they’d be getting. Win the WAC. Earn a bowl berth. Have the best season in school history."...Go Out and Win the Whole Thing, Aggies
Yes, it seems like our nearby rivals are in dire straits. Their only options appear to be returning to the Sun Belt, going Independent, or moving down to the FCS Level. I for one hope the Aggies land in the best possible situation. The UTEP-NMSU rivalry can be mutually beneficial, if both teams are good. Things aren't looking that way in football though. Going Independent might be financially unfeasible. Rejoining the Sun Belt would put them in a parallel situation to the Miners: both would be geographical outliers in a conference of primarily southeastern schools. Leaving to the FCS would set their program back if they ever wanted to rejoin FBS, and would be terrible for UTEP. The Miners would either have to risk a loss every year to a lower division opponent, or stop scheduling the Aggies altogether.
Things look relatively much brighter in men's basketball though. If the Aggies join the Sun Belt in all sports they almost instantaneously become a perennial contender with Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. There are also many more choices for Western schools in D-1 basketball (Big West, Big Sky, the WCC would be a long-shot). UTEP should also be expected to be a yearly contender in a Memphis-less C-USA. The stars might very well be aligning for a new golden era in basketball for the I-10 Rivalry, even if football in Aggieland is in trouble.