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DeWayne Walker took over a mostly hopeless program in 2009, and after a couple of steps backwards,...

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DeWayne Walker took over a mostly hopeless program in 2009, and after a couple of steps backwards, his New Mexico State Aggies took a definitive step forward in 2011. They knocked off Minnesota and Fresno State, and they came within just a few points of their first five-win season since 2004. Walker's regime absolutely made progress in his third year, but now they encounter the downside of the life cycle. They return just eight total starters from last year's 4-9 squad and almost certainly face a bit of a rebuilding season. But can a coach with nine wins in three years survive a down year? There is quite a bit of pressure for New Mexico State to win right now. Not only is the WAC in flux, having recently lost established programs Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii and brought in new blood in Texas State and UTSA, but the entire mid-major universe is in flux right now. With the Mountain West and Conference USA forming a merger and potentially looking to add a few extra members, now would be a very good time to be good at football. And if NMSU cannot maintain 2011's progress, will Walker survive to see year five in Las Cruces?

My New Mexico State preview is up at the mothership.

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