Is just making it to a bowl game enough at a time when all a college football team has to do to make it to the postseason is go 6-6?
“It depends on what you’re expecting Utah State to be,” said Corey Chavous, who will be in the CBS Sports Network broadcast booth when USU plays New Mexico State in the Arizona Bowl on Friday.
If you’re expecting Utah State to be playing to the level of, say, Alabama, then 6-6 is disappointing. If you’re more realistic about who the Aggies are, you’ll be more encouraged.
Chavous pointed to the Aggies’ five-point loss to Wyoming and three-point loss to Air Force, when USU blew leads and gave up late touchdowns.
“If you win that Wyoming game, you win that Air Force game, you’re talking about an 8-4 team,” he said. “You win those two games, and we’re having a little bit of a different conversation.”
And 6-6 isn’t bad for a school that has “recruiting limitations,” according to Chavous.
“You have to be able to recruit differently at that school,” he said. “And you’ve got to be able to do a unique job of developing talent.”
In other words, Aggies coach Matt Wells and his staff have to recruit players who will go to Logan and play in the Mountain West Conference. It’s not the same as recruiting to Georgia, Alabama, Clemson or Oklahoma.
“When you don’t have the advantages, maybe, for the recruiting aspects of some other schools, then six wins for you is a little different than six wins for somebody else,” Chavous said. “And with that being said, you’ve got a coach there who’s won nine games and 10 games.”
USU went 9-5 in 2013 and 10-4 in 2014, Wells’ first two seasons as coach.
And Chavous, who played college football for Vanderbilt and spent 11 seasons in the NFL with Arizona, Minnesota and St. Louis, clearly is impressed with the job Wells is doing in Logan.
“There haven’t been a lot of unsuccessful years while he’s been there. In five years, he’s gone to four bowl games,” he said. “On top of that, you’ve got a graduation success rate of 89 percent while he’s been there. And that’s something I’m going to probably talk about a little bit during the broadcast.
“It’s not just that the kids are going to bowl games, they’re graduating during his era. And that’s something that needs to be recognized.”
The Arizona Bowl kicks off at 3:30 p.m. MST Friday on the CBS Sports Network. (That’s Channels 269 and 753 on Comcast; Channel 221 on DirecTV; and Channel 158 on Dish Network.) Chavous will be joined in the broadcast booth by Dave Ryan, who’ll do the play-by-play, and Melanie Collins will be the sideline reporter.
This will be the sixth time in seven seasons that Utah State has played in a bowl. The Aggies missed the postseason a year ago after finishing 3-9, but pretty much everybody on the USU squad other than true freshmen has bowl experience.
The same cannot be said for New Mexico State. Those Aggies haven’t been to a bowl game in the lifetime of any of their players. In the lifetime of most of the players’ fathers.
The last time NMSU played in the postseason was the 1960 Sun Bowl, when it beat Utah State. That was three years before New Mexico State’s coach, Doug Martin, was born; 13 years before USU’s Wells was born.
But Chavous isn’t convinced the lack of bowl experience will hurt New Mexico State.
“I don’t think it matters at all,” he said. “You’ll be thinking about it for a minute. You’ll be thinking about it when people ask you. But when the game comes, I think that doesn’t come into it at all.”