Typically winning a bowl game is a great achievement for your team. That is of course unless your a Mountain West school that wants to have two winning years in a row. In fact the winner of the New Mexico Bowl has never had a winning season in any of the years following their New Mexico Bowl victory. Teams that are fighting for that much needed sixth win to become bowl eligible may want to think again if they end up playing in Albuquerque during mid December.
The Wyoming Cowboys are the latest victims of this curse. They are following in the steps of the Colorado State Rams who won the New Mexico Bowl the year before. Let's take a closer look at the history of the New Mexico Bowl and the curse that awaits the champion.
Before we get started I have to say I'm a huge fan of the New Mexico Bowl and I had a great time watching the Pokes play Fresno State last year on TV. I had a big party at my house and cooked some very tasty green chili that everyone loved. In fact I may have another New Mexico Bowl party this year just as an excuse to cook it again.
So why host a college bowl game in New Mexico you say? It's a unique location with a great culture and heritage. It is a sunny area though it can be chilly, with usually great football weather. Nice alternative to Detroit or Toronto for a bowl game.
In case you missed it in the opening paragraph: the winner of the New Mexico Bowl has yet to ever have have a winning season - ever! So we're only dealing with a four year sample size here but not a positive statistic for any team.
Wyoming is just the latest to suffer the curse after first enjoying success in the Land of Enchantment. Let's look at the history of the New Mexico Bowl.
2006 "The Original" - (8-4) San Jose State faces (6-6) New Mexico in the inaugural New Mexico Bowl. Albuquerque gets six inches of snow dumped on it before the game and the field has to be plowed before hand. The Spartans defeat the hometown Lobos 20-12. The crazy thing is A) San Jose State made a bowl game and B) the Spartans had nine wins that year.
Aftermath: Next year the Spartans finish with five wins and the curse is created. In 2008 the Spartans manage a 6-6 season but don't appear in a bowl. .500 is respectable but not a winning season. In 2009 things get even worse after a 2-10 season. This year the Spartans are sitting at 1-8 with their only victory over FCS Southern Utah. They may never see a winning record ever again.
2007 "The Deuce" - Again the hometown Lobos (8-4) are playing the Nevada Wolf Pack (6-6). This game is basically wolves versus a pack of wolves. The hometown crowd cheers the Lobos to a 23-0 shutout. Another dismal bowl performance by Nevada. So a nine win season for the Lobos - hooray! Things are look good, right?
Aftermath: With hopes riding high the Lobos are seeking their third straight bowl trip. They end up five wins short of their 2007 win total. Coach Rocky Long fires himself following that season and the UNM brain trust hire Mike Locksley to replace him. In 2009 under Locksley the Lobos manage a 1-11 season, currently in 2010 the Lobos are 1-9 and Locksley remains employed.
Despite the loss Nevada appears in two more bowls which they also lost. This year they have an 8-1 record and are ranked #21 in the nation.
2008 "Triple Play" - Two new teams meet up when Fresno State (7-5) and Colorado State (6-6) square off. The Rams score 20 points in the fourth quarter to edge the Bulldogs 40-35. Everyone at Colorado State is excited for the early success under new coach Steve Fairchild. It's all sunshine, lollipops and gumdrops from here on out.
Aftermath: The Rams start off 2009 3-0 and cruising towards another bowl berth. Then the curse strikes hard and they lose nine in a row including the only victory that New Mexico had last year. This year the Rams are sitting at 3-7 and will be watching all their bowl games from the couch for the second straight year.
Fresno State isn't discouraged by their loss to the Rams and produce another winning season the next year including a return trip to....
2009 "The Quad" - The Wyoming Cowboys (6-6) beat the odds to become bowl eligible under first year head coach Dave Christensen. Fresno State (8-4) returns with an eye of victory, or do they know better? The Cowboys force double overtime and win 35-28 and Poke fans storm the field (twice).
Aftermath: Wyoming was looking to make it back to the New Mexico Bowl but that isn't happening. Now at 2-8 the Cowboys are ranked at the bottom of the Mountain West standings. Again New Mexico gets it's sole victory over the defending new Mexico Bowl champ.
Fresno State is 6-2 and will be making another bowl trip. Will it be a third consecutive trip to Albuquerque? Pat Hill better not try and win this year if they attend again.
Will Wyoming match the 3-9 record that Rams had in 2009 following their bowl victory? Two games left in 2010 so the Pokes could either equal, exceed or finish below that record.
So of course Wyoming fans are mad with how this season turned out. Were they doomed from the very start of the year? You can blame the2-7 record on missed tackles, fumbles the defensive line or the offensive line. But I think we all know who the real culprit is here.
I'm looking at you Land of Enchantment. Can't wait to tune in on December 18th to see who suffers the snake bite this year.