By Mark Smith
Editor in Chief
Bob Davie’s controversial and dismal tenure as University of New Mexico football coach has ended after eight seasons.
At least, it will end after the Lobos’ season-finale at home on Saturday against Utah State.
On Monday night, the university released the news that surprised nobody — and gave the few remaining Lobo football fans a reason to celebrate Thanksgiving a few days early.
The firing, however, wasn’t called such in UNM’s official release, stating:
Eddie Nuñez, UNM Director of Athletics, and Bob Davie, head football coach, have mutually agreed to part ways at the conclusion of the 2019 football season. Davie, who was hired in late November of 2011, will coach the team this week and in the season finale against Utah State on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. at Dreamstyle Stadium.
“After meeting with Coach Davie this morning, we both agree that the time has come for a new direction for our football program,” said Nuñez. “I’m appreciative of the work that coach Davie has done at UNM.”
And what about that $800,000-plus buyout Davie is owed if being fired before the end of his contract?
The news release made no mention of that.
It also didn’t mention anything about a coaching search, however Albuquerque native Danny Gonzales will likely be in the mix.
Many boosters will be pushing to get Gonzales back in Burque.
Davie’s UNM tenure was filled with controversies, including multiple players being arrested. There were off-campus fights between players and others charged with a variety of sex crimes.
Last year, Davie was suspended a month without pay for a variety over allegations, including that he physically assaulted players, obstructed a rape investigation and frequently engaged in racist comments.
After the Lobos’ season-opener this season, Davie suffered what he and UNM called a “serious medical condition” and was taken to a hospital. He didn’t coach the next two games but never would say what the condition was.
This month, Lobo Nahje Flowers committed suicide.
Few expected Davie to even be coaching the Lobos this season after back-to-back 3-8 seasons, but Nuñez shocked most observers by retaining Davie last December.
If Nuñez figured the only direction under Davie was up, he was sadly mistaken.
This year, the program moved even lower.
UNM has lost eight straight and is 2-9 heading into Saturday.
The wins came against Sam Houston State, an FCS team, and 2-9 New Mexico State. The Lobos are 0-7 in the Mountain West Conference.
It was basically the same in 2017 and 2018, with two of the Lobos’ six wins coming against other FCS teams and another against New Mexico State.
Davie has a 35-63 record at UNM, but wins against teams with a winning record have been almost nonexistent.
And Davie is far from the only coach with a dismal record at the school. In fact, his 35 wins are actually the third-most in program history.
In the news release, Davie said, “In stepping aside, I’m proud of what we accomplished at UNM, but we are all disappointed that we have not been able to sustain the success that we achieved and all desire. My family and I will be forever grateful to UNM for giving me the opportunity to coach again after being at ESPN for 10 years.”
Davie was hired in November of 2011 to replace Mike Locksley — who was fired during the 2011 season, his third as head coach.
The Lobos were 3-33 in the three seasons prior to Davie’s arrival.
UNM went 4-9 during Davie’s first season and looked to be on the rise during the next few years.
The Lobos were 7-6 in 2015, losing in the New Mexico Bowl, and went 9-4 in 2016, winning the New Mexico Bowl.
But home attendance remained dismal and only decreased the past three seasons while the scandals and losses increased.
Mark Smith has worked in New Mexico sports media for more than four decades, and is one of the most decorated sports journalists in state history. Smith has won more than 30 combined awards in print, television and radio and has been honored nationally for investigative reporting. He is the editor in chief of Enchantment Sports. Contact him at mark.enchantmentsportsNM@gmail.com.