Team preview: New Mexico State

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(All information as of July 1, 2005)


The WAC is sometimes a place where old coaches come to revitalize a career. Consider the last few years. First, Hawaii's June Jones turned the trick in 1999 when he was selected coach of the year by several major organizations for taking a team that finished 0-12 in 1998 to a bowl win over Oregon State in 1999 to complete the single-best turnaround in NCAA history.

Mike Price turned a similar trick last year after inheriting a hapless UTEP program and leading it to a second-place finish in the WAC and a close bowl loss to Colorado. This season, two more veteran head coaches head to the WAC to see if they can return to their glory days.

First-year man Dick Tomey is confident he can put San Jose State on the Bay Area map, leaving Hal Mumme with similar thoughts as he prepares an experienced New Mexico State team for the unfamiliar pathways of the WAC, including trips to Honolulu, Ruston, La., Boise, Idaho, and San Jose, Calif.

"We're very excited as a program to be playing in a conference with all these great coaches and players," Mumme said. "We have six road games this year to places a lot of us have never been. In addition to our first year in the WAC, we open with four challenging non-conference games (UTEP, at Colorado, at New Mexico and California on ESPN2).

"Our players spent the spring learning new systems. We've got some work to do and some challenges ahead. But we have the makings of a good football team. I think everyone is looking forward to playing in the WAC. We're going to play to win it. That's our first goal."

Mumme has accomplished that goal in several stops along the way. Like Jones and Price, Mumme has been known for some successful about-faces of his own, particularly at Kentucky.