Team preview: New Mexico

Blue Ribbon Illustrated previews the 2004-05 college football season, exclusively on Insider.

Originally Published: July 28, 2004
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Heading into his seventh year at the helm of his alma mater, New Mexico coach Rocky Long serves as Exhibit A for trigger-happy athletic directors and presidents everywhere.

After his third season, the usual honeymoon cutoff, Long had a 12-23 record and back-to-back fifth-place ties (and 3-4 records) in the Mountain West Conference. Long's overall record included a 3-9 1998 debut.

Fast forward to 2003 and the end of year six of the Long era. By that time, the Lobos had posted three straight winning seasons and two straight trips to the Las Vegas Bowl. Last season New Mexico -- the only school in the nation to increase its winning output every year since 1999 -- tagged conference champ Utah with its only league loss and beat perennial conference power Colorado State for the first time since 1995.