Here's a quick and dirty lesson in how the economics of big-time college football works. On one side, there are programs that can afford to expand stadiums, add skyboxes, update dilapidated facilities, erect massive Jumbotrons, extend multimillion-dollar contracts, build modern Taj Mahals, occasionally put up whole new stadiums and, if there's anything left over, maybe throw a little back to the school. You know, for appearances.
Then there are the programs that apparently need help feeding their own players after practices:
In a twist on Little League moms lining up after-game treats, New Mexico State’s budget-conscious football staff distributed an e-mail this week asking fans to donate after-practice or late-night snacks for hungry players.
It’s a consequence of the national economy, of course.
"It’s a decision we had to make with regard to our meals," first-year coach DeWayne Walker said Thursday. "There are a lot of other areas where we have to make tough choices with how we’re going to spend our money."
Undeterred by being reduced to one of the menial duties of the average high school booster club, Aggie partisans have already responded with enthusiasm, delivering "good stuff" like trail mix, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and watermelons. "The team was excited," reported linebacker Jamar Cotton. I'm sure potential recruits will respond with similar zeal.
To his credit, Walker went out of his way to cut off snarky haters (ahem) who would mock NMSU's special needs -- "I don’t want anybody to read into it that we’re the poorest program in the country. We’re not." -- but I still refuse to believe he doesn't go to bed some nights trying to remember why he took this gig in the first place.