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Know your enemy 2015: New Mexico Lobos

“A man without enemies is a man without character.” —Paul Newman

key unm

I didn't take full advantage of the bye week to scout the Lobos properly for KYE and as I missed a good window to post this yesterday without interfering with basketball and the like, I will accept a grade of FAIL for this week. Kickoff now is less than 12 hours away, so get to know this week's enemy, but be quick about it.

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 69-31-5 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. 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 Sheppard has been an OC for the Chargers, Bills and Saints and finally as wide receivers coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sheppard's career arc is what is called "pulling a Tom Cable".

2) It is illegal in Albuquerque to sell leathery or "decidedly shrunken or unpalatable" pecans, which means that if you want shrunken, leathery pecans you'll have to go to Arizona like everyone else.

1) Because of Breaking Bad, Albuquerque is probably currently known for good old-fashioned meth violence, but in 2012, the tranquility of the meth violence was shattered by the inevitable: hot dog violence. Albuquerque hot dog vendor Eric Kilmer ran over "rival" hot dog vendor Vincent Montoya with his car in what I'm guessing was an escalating turf war. Luckily, Montoya was not killed in the attack but the police chief later remarked "I'll be frank, I never sausage savagery in all my years on the force."