Even though the Rio Grande rivalry is a non-sponsored event, there still is enough "juice" between the New Mexico Lobo and New Mexico State Aggie fans to make it an event worth stirring up.
The Aggies women's basketball team opened up its series Thursday, Dec. 4, coming on the heels of Mike Jordan's squad putting the spikes on UNM just after Thanksgiving. In ole Pete's mind, the volleyball win evens the score from the football season with three more basketball games yet to be played. The nature of rivalries is the nature of sports itself. The Aggies have two of the best with the Lobos and UTEP just down the road. The national media doesn't notice them, but you'd be hard pressed to say the intensity between the three of them is any less than a PAC-10, Big 12 or ACC rivalry.
Seeing the young athletes on the Olympic sports teams talk about an upcoming tennis match or swim meet with the rivals shows Pete that caring about Crimson and White pride is alive and well no matter what sport is being contested. Men's hoops fans have to wait a little bit for their series to start as the Miners won't arrive at the Pan Am until the day after graduation, Dec. 14. The Aggies head down glory road the following Saturday. The Lobos are waiting in their lair for NMSU two days before Christmas, a week later they will be front and center on the parquet floor. Some students are naturally grumbling about the lateness of the games, but the game versus Kansas and the timing of the returns with Long BeachState and North Texas forced the lateness of the schedule.
Pete can remember a late December game with UTEP that got "snowed out," actually postponed a day, because of some heavy duty snow flakes that covered the MesillaValley. The Aggies also went to El Paso in late February in 2002 to accommodate the Miners. The fact remains you could have the game played at 2 a.m. in the Meerscheidt parking lot and the fans would show up just the same. An old saying is it's better to deal with the devil you know rather than one who is a stranger. You can see how that translates to the development of a rivalry. Don't get ole Pete wrong, I don't think the Miners or Lobos are the devil, we just like to "give them the devil" when we meet them in sports.