The Bob Davie era of New Mexico football is officially over. Or, it will be after this upcoming weekend.
New Mexico announced on Monday Davie will not return to coach the football program in 2020. The school also confirmed Davie will coach the team for the regular-season finale against Utah State this Saturday.
“After meeting with Coach Davie this morning, we both agree that the time has come for a new direction for our football program,” New Mexico Director of Athletics Eddie Nuñez said in a released statement. “I’m appreciative of the work that coach Davie has done at UNM.”
Davie was hired by New Mexico in 2011. Since then, New Mexico accumulated a record of just 35-63 over the past eight seasons. Despite the losing record, the 35 wins are the third-most in program history, which is perhaps more a testament to the longevity Davie managed to have with New Mexico more than anything else. New Mexico did go to back-to-back bowl games in 2015 and 2016, with one loss in the New Mexico Bowl in 2015 and a victory in the same bowl game the following season. Those were the only two winning seasons for the Lobos under Davie.
Davie took over the job at New Mexico a little more than a decade after his five-year run as head coach at Notre Dame came to an end. He spent time as a TV broadcaster between coaching gigs. Davie currently has an all-time coaching record of 70-88 including his time with the Fighting Irish. Time will tell if we see Davie on a sideline again. Davie took a brief absence from the program earlier this season due to a health scare.
The Davie news comes on the same day UNLV announced its own coaching change. It’s that time of the year.
New Mexico will uphold a 30-day suspension of head coach Bob Davie after the university’s board of regents voted to reject an appeal filed by Davie. According to a report from ESPN, it is still unclear just when the 30-day suspension will officially begin.
“They still haven’t determined that,” New Mexico spokesperson Cinnamon Blair said to ESPN regarding the start of the suspension. “It would be an administrative decision made between the university president and athletics director.”
News of the 30-day suspension for Davie broke on February 8 as it was learned Davie was being investigated for concerns about the culture within the football program and athletic department as a whole. The next day, Davie released a statement saying he would be appealing the suspension, in which he claimed he never violated the university policies to warrant being suspended.
The timing of the suspension may not be a big issue, but it could impact when New Mexico officially begins their spring practice schedule. It would be expected Davie would be reinstated before New Mexico opens the official spring football practice schedule. The earliest possible date would probably be March 10 if the 30-day timeline begins on Feb. 8. But if the start of the suspension commences today or yesterday, you can tack on another week to that earliest possible scheduled start date.
The news centering on football players taking a knee during the national anthem has largely been an issue playing out in the NFL but has trickled down to the high school level. College football tends to stay out of the issue since most pregame ceremonies occur with college football players in the locker room. But because weather wiped out the typical pregame pomp and circumstance prior to Saturday night’s New Mexico vs. Air Force game, players were on the field as the national anthem was performed, oddly enough, at halftime.
Five players from New Mexico’s football team — defensive end Garrett Hughes, safety Stanley Barnwell, cornerback Elijah Lilly, safety Michael Sewell, and linebacker Kimmie Carson — all were seen taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.
Both teams remained on the field during halftime rather than retreating to their locker rooms due to a shortened halftime break. The game scheduled was modified due to a weather delay. New Mexico head coach Bob Davie said it was agreed there would be no playing of the national anthem during the halftime, so he was surprised when it was played and to learn some of his players chose to take a knee the way a number of NFL players have recently.
“I’d like to have the opportunity to visit with our players, talk about what our stance would be, unified as a football team,” Davie said, according to the Albuquerque Journal. “I kind of got shocked by that. I wouldn’t want to judge or have too much of a critique, at least speaking from my standpoint, as far as a total football team. Because in fairness to them, I never really talked to them about it.”
Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun was asked about the situation after the game (no Air Force players were seen taking a knee), and he showed no ill-will over the decision.
“That’s their right,” he said. “They live in a country where they’re allowed to do that.”
The 2016 bowl season started off by checking off a number of firsts in the New Mexico Bowl. UTSA (6-7) played in its first bowl game and New Mexico (9-4) head coach Bob Davie win his first bowl game as a head coach. It had been a long time coming for Davie, who saw his Lobos come up on the short end of the scoreboard in the New Mexico Bowl a year ago. New Mexico held off UTSA, 23-20, in the first bowl game of the season.
New Mexico running backs Richard McQuarley (game MVP) and Teriyon Gipson each scored touchdowns on the ground as New Mexico opted to play it safe with a run-focused offense in windy conditions. UTSA cut a 16-6 lead to three points with a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Trevor Stevens, but the Lobos ran the ball down the field on the ensuing possession to pad their lead with a second touchdown run by McQuarley.
Davie had been 0-4 in bowl games prior to this season, including three bowl losses during his time as head coach at Notre Dame from 1997 through 2001. Davie returned to the sidelines in 2012 with New Mexico following a good run in the broadcast booth. After three losing seasons, Davie turned things around to turn in a seven-win season in 2015 and earning a trip to the New Mexico Bowl. With a record of 8-4 this season, the Lobos returned to the bowl game having taken one step forward. The next step came today to pick up the ninth win of the season and the first bowl win since the 2007 season, also in the New Mexico Bowl.
So what’s next for New Mexico? The bar continues to be raised for the program under Davie. The 2017 season will see a challenging road schedule with conference games on the road against Boise State, San Diego State and Wyoming and non-conference contests against Tulsa and Texas A&M. New Mexico’s 2017 season kicks off on September 2 at home against Abilene Christian.
UTSA will look to build off their first bowl experience as well. The Roadrunners get their 2017 season started on September 2, 2017 against Houston. It was just a couple of years ago when UTSA embarrassed Houston in their brand new stadium, 27-7. This time, Houston travels to San Antonio.
Both UTSA and New Mexico appear to be heading in a positive direction.
The coaching carousel in college football went for a wild ride this season, but New Mexico managed to avoid losing Bob Davie to another school. Now, New Mexico is rewarding Davie for his loyalty to the program with a contract extension.
Earlier today New Mexico released a statement saying the school has given Davie a two-year contract extension, which will keep Davie in Albuquerque through the 2021 season. The contract extension comes packaged with a $50,000 raise that kicks in on July 1.
“Under the leadership of Coach Davie, our football program has transformed both on and off the field,” said Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs. “We have a healthy future for our program, and I’m excited to have Coach Davie lead us.”
In 2015, New Mexico paid Davie $773,940, which ranked seventh among Mountain West Conference coaches. Once his raise takes effect on July 1, Davie will move up one spot among MWC coaches, passing San Diego State head coach Rocky Long barring any other contract changes before then. In four years at New Mexico, Davie has coached the Lobos to a record of 18-32 but is coming off a winning season and bowl appearance after tkaing over a program that went just 3-37 in the 40 games prior to his arrival.