Davie says he’s fully committed to ‘underdog’ UNM
Coach, athletic director reaffirm commitment to each other after 2nd straight 3-9 season
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.
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.