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The Foster Kids

A brief history about New Mexico State football, a team that no one knows and no one wants.

New Mexico State v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The New Mexico State Aggies football team is in a weird state at the moment, currently hanging on to one more year of Sun Belt football before being pushed out into the football world to fend for themselves.

So with the transition to FBS Independent status set in stone and the NFL combine coming soon (in which no Aggies were invited), we thought this would be a good time to remind the football world that the NMSU Aggies are still here and provide an opportunity to get to know the Aggies from a historical standpoint.

It might not be that shocking to most to know that, historically, the New Mexico State football program has been awful. How awful? 423-624-30 (.407 win percentage) to be exact. Good for 122nd out of the current 129 teams in the FBS. They also hold the longest postseason drought of any team in college football at 56 years. You can see the rest of their achievements here.

While that record is a true testament to how futile their efforts in football have been, there have been some good seasons along the way.

In fact, in the first 32 seasons of Aggies football, they had more undefeated seasons (8) than losing seasons (7) while being led by 15 different coaches.

While the Aggies had trouble maintaining head coaches during the early years, they finally gained some stability in 1929, when Gerald H. Hines became the leading man. Hines led the Aggies from 1929-1939, compiling a record of 54-36-10 (.540 win percentage). Hines’ best season as a coach came in 1935 when he led the Aggies to a 7-1-1 record and the first bowl appearance in program history.

That bowl game, between the Hardin-Simmons Cowboys and New Mexico A&M (New Mexico State), was the first Sun Bowl game held between college teams. It showcased offensive lines that averaged 175 and 188 lbs., respectively, and 29 punts. The game ended in a 14-14 tie. The official Sun Bowl website had this to say about the game:

The contest was a vicious, hard-hitting affair that included 10 fumbles, five picks, and an astounding NCAA record 29 punts.

Despite continuing his successful tenure after the 1935 season, Hines was forced to retire in 1939 to serve in World War II.

Aggies football would start to see a glimpse of the future after Hines’ departure, as they were only able to come away with one winning season between 1939-1957.

That is, until Warren Woodson came along.

The College Football Hall of Fame inductee led the Aggies to some of their best seasons in program history. Under his leadership, the Aggies went 63-36-3 (.618), including an 11-0 season in 1960-the only undefeated season in program history.

During the 1960 season, the Aggies were actually ranked in the AP Poll for six weeks, the longest and only time the Aggies have ever been ranked. Woodson also led the Aggies to their only two bowl victories in the 1959 and 1960 Sun Bowls. Despite this success, bouts with administration would cost Woodson his job after the 1967 season.

Thus began the Woodson Curse, and the display of futility that has been the NMSU football team.

NCAA Football: New Mexico Bowl-New Mexico at Texas-San Antonio
New Mexico went to it’s 13th bowl in 2016. That is more than four times as many bowls as NMSU has been to in it’s programs history. Here New Mexico Football Head Coach Bob Davie holds up the New Mexico Bowl Trophy in 2016 after defeating UTSA.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

It should be noted that the program has been so bad since Woodson left, that they have been overshadowed by UNM, a program that is not exactly a powerhouse in football either. Being historically dominated by your in state rival 70-32-5, who only has a slightly better win percentage (.454) really speaks to the volume of the poor level of play NMSU has shown over the past five decades.

But hey, at least we still can say that we have a better record than Alabama in bowl games! (Technically).