Stevens: Pack Of Overachieving Lobos Is No. 24 in Director's Cup Race
April 20, 2010
"For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack." -- Rudyard Kipling
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
There are mighty programs sheepishly looking up at New Mexico Lobos today and all of them should be shaking their heads in amazement, even awe.
These are programs such as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, USC, Georgia, Indiana, Auburn, Alabama, Arizona, Purdue, Northwestern, Brigham Young, Utah, TCU, Louisville, Missouri, Syracuse, Kansas - all of whom trail the Lobos in the Learfield Director's Cup race.
As for the Lobos, they are probably annoyed that their lead on this pack isn't bigger in this Cup race that ranks athletic programs based on overall performance.
The Lobos are currently No. 24 in the NCAA in the Director's Cup standings. That's a huge "Wow."
So, how do you judge an athletic department? Do you judge it by the individuals -- the players, the coaches, the administrators? Yep, you sure do.
You judge it by UNM golfer Jodi Ewart, who you could argue is the most accomplished Mountain West Conference athlete in any sport -- ever. You judge it by record-setting runner Lee Emanuel and by Darington Hobson, who was the first ever Lobo to lead that storied program in scoring, rebounding and assists in a single season.
There are lots of Lobos like this. Coaches, too. We'll cut the list short so we can move on.
Do you judge Paul Kreb's department by the success of its marquee teams? Yep, you sure do because in this money-strapped economy it's extremely important that the turnstiles keep turning and Joe and Susie Fan keep coming to the games.
The public and the newspapers, right or wrong, fishbowl in on Lobo men's basketball and Lobo football. The success of the teams that most bring the spotlight toward Lobos are important to a university's image and its wallet.
But a vital part of a department is the overall balance. This includes success in the classroom, and success that stretches over all the sports and all the seasons.
The Learfield Sports Director's Cup dishes out points for what universities accomplish at the NCAA championship level in both men's and women's sports. There were 271 Division I school awarded points in the 2008-09 Cup race.
Of course, this Cup race has its favorites. Of course, there are programs that will be hard-pressed to make the Top 75 based on conference, money, even lack of a big-name reputation.
The University of New Mexico Lobos finished the 2008-09 season in the 62nd spot, ahead of Wyoming (192), Colorado State (127), Air Force (105) and San Diego State (83), and behind Utah (51), Brigham Young (47) and TCU (42).
To those who really understand the constraints placed on Lobos by location, budget and even conference, there is no way the Lobos should ever crack the Top 50 and slip ahead of BYU and TCU. Like they say: Money talks.
But amazing and unbelievable have merged in the latest Director's Cup standings. The Lobos are No. 24 - tops in the Mountain West Conference and ahead of many BCS conference big boys.
Of course, this shouldn't be happening. There simply are too many restraints on Lobos to pass up so many BCS conference programs. Just don't tell Krebs, his coaches and the Lobo student-athletes. They simply do what they can with what they got and push it to as high a level as they can.
We need to throw out another "of course," here. Of course, the Lobos probably won't finish in the Top 25. They'll take a hit in a few spring sports and won't get points in a few sports the Lobos don't have such as field hockey, water polo, hockey, men's swimming, wrestling, women's bowling, rowing, fencing.
The Lobos will take a hit in the next Director's Cup update. There will be points awarded in women's bowling, men and women's gymnastics and men's hockey. No points there for Lobos.
Ohio State, a fat cat of the Big Ten, has a slim shot at the title, but Stanford should roll to the 2010 Director's Cup. The Cardinal have a few billion dollars in the bank and the Cardinal play so many sports at a high level.
But what the Lobos have accomplished with what they have - currently a No. 24 ranking - should be recognized as something special.
After that, the Lobos probably will be ticked that Stanford and Ohio State have such a big lead. That's the nature of the Lobo pack.