Braves getting paid for travel to New Mexico State

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2008

LORMAN — Once hurricanes Gustav and Ike moved through the South, Alcorn State athletic director Darren Hamilton got moving as well.

Hamilton was looking to add a 12th game to Alcorn’s schedule and scoured the Internet looking to see if any schools had canceled games due to the storms and could make up their game against the Braves.

Hamilton saw that Nicholls State had canceled its game against New Mexico State and was not planning on making it up, so he gave New Mexico State a call to see if they would be interested in playing the Braves.

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The two schools worked together and finalized a date for the game about a month ago.

The Braves landed in Las Cruces, N.M., early this morning, and kickoff for the game will be at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Hamilton said it was important for him to try to get a 12th game added to Alcorn’s schedule this season.

“The NCAA requires schools to play a minimum of nine games,” Hamilton said. “But you don’t see anyone playing nine games because not very many top student-athletes will come to your school if you only play nine games. So, if you want to recruit the best possible student-athletes, you had better play the maximum number of games you can.”

Hamilton said there are three positive things about playing a Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division 1-A, team such as New Mexico State; a great experience for the players, getting the Alcorn State name out to other parts of the country and generating additional resources.

New Mexico State is paying ASU $250,000 to play the game.

It is the second Bowl Subdivision team the Braves have played this year.

Alcorn lost to Troy 65-0 on Sept. 13.

While Alcorn might be playing the big schools now, Hamilton said in the future, he will bring smaller schools to Jack Spinks Stadium each year.

Because of current streams of revenue, including the money paid to Alcorn State by Troy and New Mexico State to play those two schools, the Braves will be able to pay Division II or III schools to play on their campus in the coming years.

“I will have the resources to do that,” Hamilton said. “After 2009, I will always bring in a team such as a West Georgia or Belhaven to play us on campus. It gives freshmen the chance to play in a game-like situation in front of an audience and allows coaches to experiment with lineups. It provides a great benefit.”

For now, however, the Braves will have to keep playing the big boys of college football.

New Mexico State has a 1-2 record, with a 38-7 loss to Nebraska and 35-24 loss to New Mexico, sandwiched around a 34-33 win over UTEP.

The Aggies also have some Southeastern Conference flavor on their coaching staff.

The head coach is former Kentucky boss Hal Mumme, and the defensive coordinator is former Mississippi State and Ole Miss defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn.

Despite the seemingly long odds, ASU coach Ernest Jones said he and his team are excited to make the trip to the Southwest.

“I’m excited to get the opportunity to play against a (Bowl Subdivision) team,” Jones said. “It will give us a chance to evaluate the team we have as we get ready for the second half of the season.”

The Braves do have hope, however. Last season, SWAC member Arkansas-Pine Bluff traveled to play New Mexico State and only lost 20-17 when the Aggies made a field goal with one second left.

“For another team in our conference to play them well, it lets us know that if we bring our A game, we have a chance to win the game,” Jones said. I want us to play hard for four quarters, compete our butts off and have a chance to win in the fourth. That’s our expectation.”

But even if the Braves don’t come back to Lorman with a win, Jones said the experience of flying out to a different region of the country and playing against a Bowl Subdivision school is invaluable.

“It’s almost like a bowl game for us,” Jones said. “(The players) are excited. We’re going to enjoy the experience. It’s a great experience for these seniors.”