Davie all in to try to rebuild
Coach and Nuñez to work together
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.”
UNM football coach Bob Davie, left, and athletic director Eddie Nuñez meet with the media to discuss the football program.