Davie all in to try to re­build

Coach and Nuñez to work to­gether

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY STEVE VIR­GEN

It’s non­sense to be­lieve Bob Davie does not live in New Mex­ico, he says, or that he’s not fully in­vested as head coach of the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico foot­ball team. The job is im­por­tant to him. That was among the var­i­ous top­ics Davie touched on, along with ath­letic di­rec­tor Ed­die Nuñez, while an­swer­ing ques­tions dur­ing a meet­ing with the me­dia that lasted nearly an hour on Fri­day af­ter­noon.

“I spill my guts to our play­ers ev­ery sin­gle day,” Davie said when asked if he’s shared with his play­ers his mo­ti­va­tion to re­build the Lo­bos. “This whole thing of ‘you’re look­ing like you’re not all in,’ or ‘you don’t live here.’ Let’s stop all that right now. That’s silly. That’s so silly. Ridicu­lous.”

Last week, Nuñez re­leased a state­ment of sup­port for Davie to con­tinue as head coach. Nuñez said he met with Davie on Nov. 30 and saw that the 64-year-old coach is pas­sion­ate about restor­ing a pro­gram that posted backto-back bowl ap­pear­ances in 2015 and 2016 but has since fallen on hard times with con­sec­u­tive 3-9 sea­sons.

“We want to make sure he has a pro­gram that Lobo fans are proud of,” Nuñez said. “The re­al­ity is we have to make a com­mit­ment to this pro­gram, and that has al­ready started and we are mov­ing for­ward with it.”

Davie said he is ap­pre­cia­tive of the op­por­tu­nity to try to re­build the pro­gram. He said he is aware of the chal­lenges that come from hav­ing a smaller bud­get to work with than many other NCAA Divi­sion I FBS pro­grams, but

that he em­braces those type of ob­sta­cles.

“It’s time to move for­ward,” he said. “I’m go­ing to give it ev­ery­thing I’ve got. I’m go­ing to work as hard as I pos­si­bly I can. It is an un­der­dog men­tal­ity here. That’s what I’ve come to love about this place. My pas­sion is in get­ting this thing as good as it can be.”

Davie doesn’t be­lieve he was re­tained for fi­nan­cial rea­sons. His buy­out would have been $1.27 mil­lion for the three re­main­ing years on his con­tract, at a time when the UNM ath­letic depart­ment has been un­der scru­tiny for miss­ing bud­get pro­jec­tions and re­peated deficits.

“I’ve been in this long enough to know that, ‘3-9, 3-9,’ if they re­ally want to buy you out, they’re gonna buy you out some­how,” Davie said. “... If I didn’t think that I was the best per­son to do this I wouldn’t do it. It’s not about money for me. It’s not about ego. It’s about the same rea­son I came here, was to make a dif­fer­ence. I feel that same way again af­ter 3-9 and 3-9.”

Davie said he is aligned with his coach­ing staff and plans for it to re­main in­tact. He said the of­fense is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion and that it was the cor­rect move to tran­si­tion from the triple op­tion to the spread as it did this past sea­son. The plan was to keep at least 30 per­cent of the triple op­tion and run the spread the rest of the time, but in­juries at quar­ter­back stunted that idea. Davie still wants that 70-30, triple op­tion-spread scheme for the of­fense.

On de­fense, Davie said the Lo­bos will need to be unique with their game plan, a strat­egy that will be worked on dur­ing the off­sea­son with re­gard to per­son­nel.

Mar­cus Hayes, a red­shirt fresh­man free safety who led the na­tion in punt re­turn av­er­age (21.2 yards) and earned All-Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence sec­ond-team hon­ors, and Rhashaun Ept­ing, a 6-foot-2, 218-pound red­shirt sopho­more out­side line­backer who led UNM with 5½ sacks this sea­son, will trans­fer, as they an­nounced on Twit­ter on last week.

Davie said re­cruit­ing and de­vel­op­ing play­ers are among the improvements that must be made in his quest to turn around the pro­gram.

“We need a re­boot from A to Z,” Davie said, ac­knowl­edg­ing that it is as if he is start­ing over. “We do need to feed our play­ers ... If we’re not go­ing to get the bluest of blue chips, you bet­ter de­velop them bet­ter.”

Re­cruit­ing is chal­leng­ing while the ath­letic depart­ment deals with ad­ver­sity, Davie said, so re­la­tion­ships with re­cruits are more im­por­tant.

“If it does come down to statis­tics, we don’t have a lot to sell in a lot of ar­eas,” he said. “We have to be proac­tive on that.”

As for at­tract­ing fans to home games, Nuñez said there are sev­eral plans in the works, in­clud­ing putting to­gether a com­mit­tee that will in­clude ad­min­is­tra­tion, coaches, stu­dents and com­mu­nity mem­bers that will as­sess “ev­ery­thing as­so­ci­ated with foot­ball,” and en­gage the com­mu­nity.

Davie has an idea, though he said mar­ket­ing is not his area of ex­per­tise.

“We need to cre­ate a party,” Davie said. “We need to have a tail­gate party. Maybe you run the risk that some of those peo­ple only go to the party and leave ... Hope­fully we can get good enough or I will get out there with a bull­horn and say, ‘Come in this game. It’s time to go do work.’”

Davie turned to Nuñez and asked, “Do we have some money do to do that?”

“We’re go­ing to fig­ure it out,” Nuñez said. “There’s a lot of part­ner­ships we have.”

ROBERTO E. ROS­ALES/JOUR­NAL

UNM foot­ball coach Bob Davie, left, and ath­letic di­rec­tor Ed­die Nuñez meet with the me­dia to dis­cuss the foot­ball pro­gram.

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