Davie says he’s fully com­mit­ted to ‘un­der­dog’ UNM

Coach, ath­letic di­rec­tor reaf­firm com­mit­ment to each other after 2nd straight 3-9 sea­son

Santa Fe New Mexican - - FRONT PAGE - By Will Web­ber wweb­[email protected]­i­can.com

AL­BU­QUERQUE — If it’s a cheer­leader they want, a cheer­leader they shall have.

Vow­ing to reaf­firm the drive and com­mit­ment that led the Univer­sity of New Mex­ico foot­ball team to back-to­back bowl bids and share of a di­vi­sion ti­tle in the Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence, head coach Bob Davie said Fri­day he’s will­ing to step out­side his com­fort zone to be the leader his foot­ball pro­gram needs.

It was just a week ago that UNM ath­letic di­rec­tor Ed­die Nuñez quashed any no­tion that he would fire Davie and buy out the re­main­der of his ex­tended con­tract in hopes if turn­ing around a pro­gram that has fallen on hard times.

The Lo­bos have fin­ished each of the last two sea­sons with iden­ti­cal 3-9 records and last-place fin­ishes in the MWC’s Moun­tain Di­vi­sion. Each year ended with a seven-game los­ing streak.

On Fri­day in the third floor of the Tow Diehm Fa­cil­ity that over­looks the south end zone of Dream­style Sta­dium, Nuñez and Davie sat down with in­vited mem­bers of the lo­cal me­dia in a uniquely in­ti­mate set­ting — them sit­ting in cush­ioned chairs just a few feet from two rows of re­porters — to dis­cuss

the pair’s com­mit­ment to one an­other and their im­me­di­ate fu­ture to­gether.

“Each one of you guys know, it is an un­der­dog men­tal­ity here,” Davie said. “And that’s what I’ve come love about this. I’ve come to love this place, through all the lenses I’ve seen it though.”

The pair spoke at length about Davie’s de­sire to be at UNM and his will­ing­ness to ac­cept the lim­i­ta­tions that come with coach­ing at a lower-level mid-ma­jor pro­gram with se­ri­ous bud­get con­cerns.

“The real­ity is, the bud­get is what it is now,” Nuñez said, adding that he and his staff will make pro­jec­tions for the 2019 sea­son dur­ing a Jan­uary bud­get meet­ing.

Up un­til about a week ago, it was un­clear if next year’s plans in­cluded Davie.

His base salary and built-in com­pen­sa­tion pack­age means Davie will make ap­prox­i­mately $2.4 mil­lion through the 2021 sea­son. In­cen­tives could take it north of $3 mil­lion.

Had UNM fired Davie, he would have re­ceived a buy­out of three years at his base salary, which equates to roughly $1.3 mil­lion.

“I’ve been in this long enough to know, 3-and-9, 3-and-9 — if they want to buy you out, they’re go­ing to buy you out some­how,” Davie said.

With that off the ta­ble for now, it’s full steam ahead for the Davie-Nuñez part­ner­ship. Ly­ing in wait are sig­nif­i­cant changes that don’t nec­es­sar­ily have any­thing to do with money — at least for the time be­ing.

“Where we are right now is, the real­ity is, we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to be in the same po­si­tion next year fi­nan­cially,” Nuñez said. “So we have to have an un­der­stand­ing, if we can do this with those pa­ram­e­ters — I wanted him to tell me if he felt that same ex­cite­ment, and he did. That’s what ex­cites me, be­cause it is a chal­lenge.”

“We all go through, ‘Is this worth it?’ Right?” Davie said when asked if he ever had any thoughts about walk­ing away.

He said he is fully com­mit­ted to UNM and the com­mu­nity. He spoke pas­sion­ately about how his fam­ily fol­lowed him to Al­bu­querque, how his daugh­ter was mar­ried here, how his son be­came a col­lege coach, how his daugh­ter-in-law teaches classes at UNM, his son-in-law is on his staff and how his grand­child was born here.

“I’ve worked harder than I worked at Notre Dame, if the truth be told,” Davie said. “So I don’t want some il­lu­sion that this is kind of an easy come, easy go to me. I put seven years of my life into this thing.”

Bud­get cuts within the UNM ath­letic de­part­ment had an im­pact on foot­ball, Davie said, many of which never leaked to the pub­lic. All the fans saw were the fa­cil­i­ties and uni­forms. What they didn’t is what Davie is after, and some­thing he and Nuñez are aim­ing to cor­rect.

That means more sup­port for the play­ers and an amped-up re­la­tion­ship with the fans. Both men agreed that mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions for the pro­gram were vir­tu­ally nonex­is­tent last sea­son. That, Davie said, will change.

Nuñez is as­sem­bling a com­mit­tee of staff mem­bers, coaches and stu­dents to ex­plore ev­ery­thing from the team’s com­mu­nity in­volve­ment to how to en­gage fans on game day with park­ing, tail­gate lots and in-game fes­tiv­i­ties.

“It needs to be a party,” Davie said. “We need to have a tail­gate party and maybe run the risk a lit­tle bit that maybe some of those peo­ple will only come to the party and leave and not come in, but it’s worth that risk to me. We need to make this a full-on, hot air bal­loons in the park­ing lot, bands play­ing — we need to make this fun.”

Davie ad­mit­ted he built his ca­reer by work­ing in­side the in­su­lated bub­ble of coach­ing. That meant lit­tle, if any, pub­lic re­la­tions work.

“I do have a hard time with that,” he said. “I like to build it in­ter­nally, and then ex­ter­nally peo­ple see it and ap­pre­ci­ate it.”

Next sea­son fans can ex­pect a new and dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent ap­proach.

“If we do turn this into a party, and you want me at 7:35 [p.m.] be­fore an 8 o’clock game to ride by on top of some­thing with a bull­horn to say, ‘Now get your butt in the sta­dium,’ let’s do it,” Davie said.

Ready or not, Davie is locked and loaded for an eighth sea­son with the Lo­bos.

WILL WEB­BER/THE NEW MEX­I­CAN

Lo­bos foot­ball coach Bob Davie, left, and ath­letic di­rec­tor Ed­die Nuñez are all smiles Fri­day in the Tow Diehm Fa­cil­ity that over­looks Dream­style Sta­dium. Davie is re­turn­ing for an eighth sea­son.

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