It’s been accepted orthodoxy in LoboLandia that the New Mexico Lobos men’s basketball doesn’t play away games. The main factor to that is that, unlike many major college athletic departments, UNM’s men’s basketball programs pays the bills for non-revenue sports – not the football team.
The football team was breaking even by the end of the Rocky Long era. That’s not longer the case (though football should get back to even financially under Bob Davie). But that hasn’t kept Steve Alford from trying to get marquee TV games against top flight opponents.
This week the nation got to see Alford and the break out of Tony Snell against Davidson on ESPN. A few weeks back, news broke that the Lobos had signed an exclusive agreement with ESPN to participate in the network’s exempt tournaments for four years.
Now Andy Katz of the Mothership is reporting on ESPN's College Basketball Blog that New Mexico will be leaving the Land of Enchantment next season to play the Kansas Jayhawks.
In an entry in ESPN’s Katz wrote today (at 5 a.m. no less):
Meanwhile, Kansas has signed up to play New Mexico in 2013 but the location is still unknown. The game could be in Kansas City... The Lobos continue to push for quality road games -- with a visit to Cincinnati next month to begin a new series the latest example. Kansas, though, won't be making a return trip to the Pit.
Apparently Andy Katz is the new Chuck Norris – Katz doesn’t sleep - he lies in wait, listening to the night wind for bits of basketball tittle-tattle.
Anyway, this bodes well for Lobo fans and for Alford’s stated goal of getting the program more exposure – particularly with the uncertainty of the Mountain West Conference’s TV deal and what the future holds for Alford and potential stars like Nick Banyard, Hugh Greenwood and Alex Kirk. If that weren’t enough, rumor has it that UNM has lost a few transfers to conference and regional opponents because of that supposed lack of exposure. Alford and UNM seem to be trying to rectify that.
Playing exempt tournaments and top-flight opponents like Kansas, even outside The Pit, will help. The Lobos' game in Oklahoma City against the Oklahoma St. Cowboys was a solid step, both competitively and exposure-wise.
New Mexico can worry about playing the Tiffany programs at home later. For now, just get them on the hard court and compete.