New book celebrates the NMSU Aggies’ golden season

While New Mexico State University alumni have always been proud of their alma mater, a new book, “Magic in the Desert,” may make them stand up and cheer once again.

Image of “Magic in the Desert” book cover
The recently published book “Magic in the Desert,” by NMSU alumnus Dan Perry, celebrates the history of NMSU football. (Courtesy photo)

Published this week, “Magic in the Desert,” by alumnus Dan Perry, celebrates the history of NMSU through the lens of its football team. Marching through Aggie history as early as 1894, the book reminds Aggies, past and present, of the pride and the passion that has made alumni so loyal to their crimson roots.

The book follows Perry’s college roommates and colleagues at The Round Up student newspaper, Frank Thayer and Mike Waldner, as well as his lifelong close friend Charlie Rogers. Before he died in 2013, Perry secured the commitment of these three to see the book through to completion. The release of “Magic in the Desert” is the fulfillment of their promise to him.

“The three of us embraced the task of creating this book with the goal of realizing Dan Perry’s dream,” said Thayer, professor emeritus of the NMSU Department of Journalism and Mass Communications in the College of Arts and Sciences.

With a focus on the perfect 1960 football season, celebrated by the larger-than-life photo of All-American Pervis Atkins in the Pan American Center, the book begins at the start of Aggie football and then recreates Las Cruces and the campus at the end of the 1950s, when New Mexico A&M College became New Mexico State University.

The 1960 season is reprised, game-by-game, and the career of the Aggies’ most storied coach, Warren Woodson, is brought back to life through descriptions of his arrival, the heights, the decline and his departure.

“Most Aggies may be fascinated by the football success of the Aggies before World War II and the charisma and success of Coach Jerry Hines, nicknamed by some as the Knute Rockne of New Mexico A&M,” Thayer said. “Perhaps if the students, faculty and staff of NMSU read this book, they will gain a new sense of pride in this unique institution and its role in New Mexico’s history.”

The first book signing is scheduled for the players’ reunion during the Sept. 17-19 activities leading up to the game against the University of Texas at El Paso on Saturday, Sept. 19.

For more information, visit All profits from the sale of “Magic in the Desert” will go to the Daniel Perry Endowment at NMSU.

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