ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sportscaster Visits Lobo Coach, Team
A good sportscaster is always prepared.
Brent Musburger, first-year UNM football coach Bob Davie’s friend and former colleague at ABC and ESPN, was in Albuquerque on Thursday to visit with Davie and meet with Lobo players.
Before his talk, he’d done his homework. He knew, for example, that senior Joe Harris had been switched from a knuckles-on-the-ground defensive end to a standup outside linebacker.
“Bob was kind enough to send me some notes — the office did — so I was at least aware of the talent,” said Musburger, 73, who’s in his fifth decade in broadcasting. “And, of course, I’m aware of the struggles.”
Struggles? Davie has undertaken the task of turning around a program that has won three games in three years.
Musburger said Davie, who is back in coaching after 10 years as a television football analyst, was the right choice.
The two go back much further than their partnership in the booth.
“I first became terribly impressed with coach when he was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, with the ‘Wrecking Crew’ defense,” Musburger said during a brief media session that followed his talk with the players. “It was really well-named. That was one of the best defenses I was ever around. Not necessarily the biggest. Speed, speed.
“I see this FieldTurf going in,” Musburger said, noting that UNM is installing a synthetic surface at University Stadium. “You’re going to have some linebackers here in a couple of years that can flat fly.”
Musburger said he was not surprised that Davie returned to coaching — in fact, would have been surprised if he hadn’t.
“The only person I ever thought (would not return to coaching after a stint in the booth) is John Madden,” he said, “because he hated to fly.”
Nor, Musburger said, does he think Davie’s 10-year absence from sideline is a problem.
“The last coach that left me to go back had been out longer,” he said. “Oh, by the way, his name is Dick Vermeil, and by the way, in year three (of his return) he won a Super Bowl.
“I’m not saying coach Davie in year three is going to win the BCS championship, as great as that would be. But … they got the right coach here, trust me.”
As Davie has done, Musburger implored New Mexicans not to wait for the program to start winning before supporting it.
Musburger grew up in Montana, where both the Montana Grizzles and the Montana State Bobcats have enjoyed great success at a lower level of college football. “I’ve seen how a small community can rally around a football team,” he said.
Among Musburger’s most fond broadcasting memories, he said, took place in Albuquerque. Then at CBS, he anchored that network’s coverage of the 1983 NCAA men’s basketball Final Four at the Pit. In one of the most memorable finals of all time, North Carolina State beat Houston 54-52.
Only one Final Four since then, in 1985 in Lexington, Ky., has been contested in a college arena.
He misses that atmosphere.
“I understand the economics, I understand the money,” Musburger said. “But there was something about that night coming into the Pit, man.”
His message to the Lobos?
Above all, stick together.
“You’re dependent on everybody else in football,” he said. “It’s the greatest team game in the world.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal