Unfortunately due to work commitments and a few other factors we couldn't make it to Tucson to be a part of the crowd. However we did find a way to watch it on the 'tube. More on that later.
Given the (New Mexico State) Aggies even made it to a bowl was good enough. And since the game was only about a four-hour drive from Las Cruces I hoped the Aggie faithful would turn out.
And they did. At the start of the broadcast the CBS Sports Network guys indicated a crowd of about 40,000. Since one purpose of having a bowl game is to ensure the stadium seats are filled with rear ends no doubt many decision-makers in Tucson were satisfied with the turnout. Plus it didn't hurt to see so many of those in the stands sporting NMSU crimson.
Television coverage? When I first knew the game would be on CBS Sports Network instead of one of the ESPN family of channels I was somewhat concerned, as this is an indicator of the bowl's status in the overall hierarchy of FBS postseason play. As it turned out this arrangement allowed me to catch the game at my leisure.
Once the Arizona Bowl invitation was official I did some homework on how I could view the CBS Sports Network channel. First, since moving to Manhattan our house only uses over-the-air antenna and streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime and the like. Yes, we are cord-cutters. But even in my previous home in Norton, to view CBS Sports Network I would have had to pay an extra fee to the cable provider as CBS SN is under a separate sports tier. I found a solution in the Fubo service, it is geared to sports fans although they include other channels such as Bravo, A&E and HGTV plus the ability to DVR the programming. The DVR option came in handy yesterday as I didn't leave work until 4:30, same time as kickoff. By the time I got home the score was tied at 10. I ended up doing a quick turnaround as we had plans to attend a school-related party for one of Geoana's groups. While eating and socializing I did check the score regularly so even before we made it back home I knew the game went into overtime and the (correct) Aggies won, 26-20.
So it wasn't until this morning that I saw a few of the highlights while reading coverage from the Las Cruces Sun-News, Albuquerque Journal and Arizona Daily Star. Overall the tree-killing print folks were fair and gracious to the Aggies and it appears all of the NMSU fans who made the trip had quite the positive experience.
A little later this morning I logged onto Fubo and watched the game. All the while thinking:
- It's great the see the Aggies playing in a bowl, located not all that far from home
- It's gratifying to see them play on national TV
- To have every shot of the press box-side of the stands displaying a whole lotta Aggie fans with nary an empty seat almost brought me to (happy) tears
- To see them not just play, but play well, almost feels foreign
- Seeing the guys on offense and defense really looking like they wanted it, after so many years of seeing Aggie football squads that appeared to be just going through the motions, was worth the wait
- And of course, being able to see the trophy presentation put a nice bow on the whole thing (the DVR got it all, not cutting the game off after the allotted 3.5 hours as my old cable box used to do)
- Finally, hearing head coach Martin talk about this victory being "just the beginning."
Yes, I realize we will have to wait and see what becomes of the Aggie football program. And yes, they are now officially an independent but their schedule for next season already looks oodles better than when they played in the Sun Belt Conference. Or the WAC. Or the Big West. Could pride in Aggie football be on the horizon?