It's been a crazy week in the Roberts' household, punctuated by me getting an absolutely horrible cold from all 3 of my boys AT THE SAME TIME. Naturally, it was harder to do research on the Lobos while sitting under a pile of blankets and sipping Theraflu, but luckily this Know Your Enemy from the Broncos last trip to Albuquerque was still sitting in our archives and really is an OBNUG Komedy Klassic. If you already know this know your enemy, don't spoil it for the rest of us.
Ten things Bronco fans probably didn't know about the New Mexico or their Albuquerque adobes
10) Long before it became a Bugs Bunny punchline, the town of Albuquerque, New Mexico was being settled by Spanish colonials who saw some dirt, rocks and cacti and thought "this must be the place". The city was founded in 1706, to be exact, and was first a colonial outpost by the name of Ranchos de Albuquerque...a name they got off a local taco truck. In the ensuing years, the settlement served as a farming community, military outpost and "sheep herding center of the West"...that is, until sheep herding became unfashionable—then only hipster sheep herders would congregate there, but would do so ironically.
9) The University of New Mexico was founded in 1889 with the passage of House Bill 186 by the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of New Mexico. The bill was extremely specific and stipulated that "Said institution is hereby located at or near the town of Albuquerque, in the county of Bernalillo within two miles north of railroad avenue in said town, upon a tract of good high and dry land...". Of course, stipulating that something in or near Albuquerque be built on dry land is like stipulating that something in Atlanta be built in a "humid area" or that something in Nampa be built "in an area smelling like sugar beets".
8) UNM played their first season of football in 1892, without a coach mind you, and dropped both contests that year to Albuquerque High School. The following year—again with no coach—the squad went 3-1 and exacted revenge on Albuquerque High School with a stunning 4-0 upset to start the year. To this day, it is the single greatest win in school history.
7) The last coach to leave Albuquerque with a (barely) winning record was Joe Morrison—who coached the squad from 1980 to 1982. Morrison struggled through 2 straight 4-7 seasons before finally making a "can't miss" pact with the devil that allowed him to go 10-1 in 1982. The Lobos' trail of dead that year included Texas Tech, UTEP, Wyoming, Colorado State, and Air Force...and they threw in a beating of Albuquerque High School just for good measure. Morrison's lone loss that year came against BYU, but hey, the devil can only do so much. The following season, Morrison was off to South Carolina, where he coached for another 6 years and posted the best win percentage at the school in the last 25 years—even better than Steve "Old Ball Coach" Spurrier. Right before the highly-anticipated '89 season in Columbia—Morrison collapsed and died after a round of racquetball. The devil was cleared of any wrongdoing after Morrison's death was found to have been caused by congestive heart failure.
6) As you'd expect, New Mexico State is New Mexico's most natural, and hated rival—and part of that might be bad blood over what happened in 1917. That year, the Aggies kindly escorted the Lobos to the woodshed, locked the door, and dropped 110 points on them. The Lobos only managed a single field goal in the contest and one wonders if the main Lobo squad were off fighting the Kaiser. I suppose it's some small consolation that UNM is 66-30-5 against their Las Cruces counterparts, but the 1917 beatdown still affords bragging rights to all the 110 year-old Aggie alumni. Rivalry week for UNM kicks off with the Red Rally, a raucous event held on the Thursday evening before each year's contest. During the rally, an Aggie is burned in effigy, something that Ron Swanson has a few tips on, if you're interested...
5) Prior to 1920, the UNM athletics teams were known simply as the "Varsities" or "The University Boys" (must've been some real lookers on the women's teams). The "Lobos" nickname was picked up after student newspaper editor George Bryan thought "wolves" just wasn't exotic enough and offered the Spanish equivalent instead. The mascot has now evolved to include a lupine couple—Lobo Louie and Lobo Lucy. Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but shouldn't it be Louie and Lucy Lobo? Lobo Lucy and Lobo Louie implies they have the same first name...not last...and I don't agree with anthropomorphic wolves living outside of wedlock.
Oh, get a room, you two.
4) The first woman to ever play in a Division 1 football game did so for the New Mexico Lobos...also—this joke writes itself. In the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl, Katie Hnida (the "h" or "n" is silent...I'm sure of it) struck a blow for all womankind by missing a PAT against UCLA (to the layman, this is just 7 less PAT misses than the Broncos had last season). Hnida later got of the SCHnida by hitting two 4th quarter PATs against Texas State the following season. Frankly, I think that this lady Lobo should have tried to suit up for the football squad—at middle linebacker.
3) While Rocky Long has the most wins—and losses—in program history after his 11 "meh" years at the helm (.485 win percentage), no one racked up losses quite as quickly as Mike Sheppard, the Lobos coach from 1987–1991. Sheppard fully owned his futility during his longer-than-you'd-expect stay in Albuquerque, going 0-11 in his first year and then following that up with three straight 2-10 seasons and finally working the kinks out enough to snag 3 wins in his final year...leaving the school with a 9-50 record that makes Robb Akey look like Vince Lombardi. It probably won't surprise you to find out that Sheppard wasn't courted for other head gigs, but it didn't stop the NFL from wanting his...er...skills. Sheppard has been an OC for the Chargers, Bills and Saints and was just promoted to wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sheppard's career arc is what is called "pulling a Tom Cable".
2) The Microsoft Corporation was founded in Albuquerque by Paul Allen and Bill Gates in 1975 after the duo took a long enough break from playing Dungeons and Dragons and applying eczema medication to dream up the Altair BASIC programming language. I won't bore you with the rest of the details (and oh...how they are boring), but Bill Gates dropped out of college and is now worth about $56 billion. Don't stay in school kids!
1) New Mexico is currently helmed by ex-Notre Dame HC Bob Davie—and it's a job that Davie is sure to have for at least a decade since it took the school 3 years to fire Mike Locksley even though his record was 2-26 and he punched an assistant coach in the face. At any rate...the UNM gig is Davie's first foray back into coaching 'footbaw' since 2001 and his tune on Boise State has suddenly changed from dismissiveness as an analyst to effusive praise as a head man. I wonder why.
Davie accepts his red blazer for "realtor of the year".