If anything, the first two home games of the 2015 football season did little to nothing to endear Lobo football to this city
BY RICHARD STEVENS
The cry “fire Bob Davie” already is rippling across the Lobo airwaves – only a few games into the 2015 football season.
The best answer, the fairest response, at this point – four years into the Davie regime – is probably “not yet.” However, we understand the sentiment. The improvement in Davie’s program following the Mike Locksley debacle is obvious but, really, there was only one way to go.
And while there is the appearance of stability in University of New Mexico Lobo football, there also is a lack of substance.
Things like wins. Things like defense. Things like a coach who truly embraces the community he is paid to embrace.
If anything, the first two home games of the 2015 football season did little to nothing to endear Lobo football to this city and did much to push it further away in advance of the Oct. 3 visit by the lowly New Mexico State Aggies – who the Lobos managed to beat.
The UNM home opener vs. Mississippi Valley State was both an embarrassment to the program and an insult to ticket holders. This game did not prepare UNM for its second game against Tulsa. If the Lobos were going to play an opponent this bad, they should have played Eastern New Mexico or maybe Western New Mexico. Or maybe, Albuquerque High.
The win was a false high. A placebo on the scoreboard.
That game also was a marketing mistake. The Lobos had nine months to show that Lobo football (like Lobo basketball) is a place you want to be. You have only one chance to make a first impression and the Lobos lost that opportunity in 2015 with a stadium that had about as much excitement as a waiting room full of people about to have a colonoscopy. Bend over, Lobo fans.
The Tulsa game was looked upon as a Lobo win. However, UNM’s one-dimensional offense – and a lack of defense and discipline – doomed the Lobos to a 40-21 loss. Tulsa should have scored 60.
There is a chance that UNM will have a winning record after the NMSU game, but you have to wonder about the progress – and the long-term future – of this program.
Davie needs a few quality wins to attract the casual fan to the stadium and possibly return the program to the glory days (well, a little glory is better than none) of Rocky Long.
There are huge gaps between the type of program Long built and the type of program that Davie appears to be constructing. Some of the gaps have been created by two different personalities. Long embraced the Albuquerque community. Davie seems to embrace only himself.
Long cared about Lobo football more than he cared about Long. He cared about the state, cared about his players, respected his training room, and cared about New Mexico high school coaches. It is still a mystery as to why Lobo AD Paul Krebs chased away this coach.
Long’s genuine empathy for New Mexico was returned by the community and was reflected in attendance. Davie is too much about Davie and that probably will not change. You can try to dust the cobwebs off Davie, but his ego is cast in bronze. So, he needs to fill in the holes by winning.
But can he do it?
There are concerns about Lobo football simply because there should be concerns. The defense shows few signs of improvement despite Davie’s good work in building up numbers (bodies), and that’s disheartening because of Davie’s defensive background.
But hold on. If you wait five minutes or so, Davie will mention he coached football at Notre Dame and Texas A&M.
Richard Stevens is a former sports writer for The Albuquerque Tribune. More recently he was an insider at the Lobo Athletic Department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org