New Mexico enchanted to be in bowl | NevadaAppeal.com

New Mexico enchanted to be in bowl

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

New Mexico football coach Rocky Long said his team was “awfully excited” to be in a bowl game.

The Lobos, who went 8-4 overall and 5-3 in Mountain West Conference play, are the opponent for the Nevada Wolf Pack in the New Mexico Bowl Dec. 22 at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“We’ve qualified for a bowl seven years in a row,” Long said during the Mountain West Conference bowl teleconference. “We haven’t been to seven straight.”

Long admitted that he was a little concerned that even at 8-4 his team may have been shut out of a bowl game.

“When there are five or six teams that have a chance to qualify and there are only four bowl tie-ins, you get a little nervous that you might get left out,” Long said. “We’re extremely happy to get it. There was a chance even at 9-3 that we could be sitting out. It was a 50-50 chance. It would have made the off-season tougher and hurt recruiting some.”

Long said that he hadn’t watched any film on Nevada yet because the teams were still in the process of exchanging DVDs.

“I have watched them play twice on television,” Long said. “They have a very explosive offense, and according to their press releases, are playing better on defense.

“Offensively it looks like they can move the ball on anybody. The quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) had a great season. They have weapons at running back (Luke Lippincott) and wide receiver (Marko Mitchell and Kyle Sammons), and that’s always a concern.”

When asked if it was a detriment or challenge playing at home, Long said it wasn’t either.

“It’s not a detriment, it’s different,” Long said. “The advantage of playing at home is that the players are more comfortable in their surroundings and our loyal fans can see the game without having to go off someplace else.

“The disadvantage is that some fans might want to go somewhere different. The players might want to go somewhere they haven’t seen before.”

BOISE STATE OPTED FOR HAWAII

It was a little surprising when the bowl pairings were announced this weekend and that Boise State had shunned its fans for the fourth time in five years to play a bowl game elsewhere.

“The players wanted to,” said Chadd Cripe, the Boise State beat writer for the Idaho Statesman. “Coach (Chris) Petersen asked the players and they picked it.”

Cripe said that local fans were unhappy with the decision. Boise State’s fans have always supported their team home and away, but the price tag for Hawaii can get pretty hefty.

FAST START FOR DERUYTER

Tim DeRuyter, former co-defensive coordinator at Nevada, has enjoyed a successful first season with the Air Force Academy.

DeRuyter, who coordinates the defense and also coaches the safeties, played a big role in the Falcons’ 9-3 record and a berth in the Armed Forces Bowl against Cal on Dec. 31.

“He’s certainly helped,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. “When we put a staff together, we needed coaches that had a fondness for Air Force. He certainly fits into that category.

“That’s just it. Across the board look at the number of academy graduates that we have. The staff has meshed exceptionally well, and he’s been a key contributor.”

Safety Chris Thomas was one of the leading tacklers for the Falcons this year.

LOBOS GET EXTENSION

According to the Associated Press, the NCAA has granted a 30-day extension in an academic fraud investigation involving New Mexico’s football program.

The delay will postpone the university’s response to the NCAA until Jan. 7. When New Mexico AD Paul Krebs disclosed the investigation in September, he said the university would have a response on Dec. 7.

Krebs said he didn’t want to submit the report early.

The NCAA is looking into four potential rules violations involving three members of New Mexico’s staff. The Associated Press hasn’t identified any of the coaches, but Krebs said two are no longer on the staff.

The assistants are accused of helping four prospective student-athletes and one student athlete already on campus improperly obtain credits though correspondence courses at Fresno Pacific.

New Mexico is conducting an internal investigation and likely will self impose penalties.

Long, the Lobos’ head coach, has not been accused of any infractions.

NEW MEXICO VS. NEVADA

When: Dec. 22, 1:30 p.m.

Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, N.M.

TV/Radio: ESPN/ESPN Radio 630 AM, pre-game at 12:30 p.m.