For inheriting chaos and restoring order, for replacing rampant pessimism with budding optimism, for establishing a measure of respect for a long-scorned program, second-year University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie has been awarded a two-year contract extension.
The agreement would keep Davie at UNM through the 2019 season.
The extension does not include a pay raise. Athletic director Paul Krebs said it does not affect buyout amounts should Davie and UNM part ways at any time during the duration of the contract, whether at Davie’s or the university’s initiative.
Later Tuesday, Davie said he greatly appreciated the extension as recognition that progress is being made.
“When people step up and extend a contract, tell you you’re wanted, it’s a pretty good feeling,” he said. “… I’m appreciative of the support I’ve gotten since I’ve been here.”
But, he added: “On a day-to-basis, it doesn’t really change anything.”
Davie noted that, four years into his tenure as head coach at Notre Dame, he signed a five-year contract extension. He was fired at the end of the next season.
“To take (the extension) as something that’s a tangible positive, moving forward, I don’t know,” he said. “That depends on how we play next year and the momentum we keep gaining in this program.”
Krebs acknowledged Tuesday that the move is largely symbolic. But it’s a statement, he said, he was eager to make to recruits, fans, potential donors, etc.
“I think it’s a recognition of an outstanding job being done today,” Krebs said. “It’s a recognition that we have the right leader in place, and that we’re excited about the future of the program.
“We want to send a message, I think, not only to our fans and supporters but to our current players and future players that there’s stability in our program.”
Before Davie’s arrival in November 2011, stability had been sorely lacking.
Three years before, Rocky Long had resigned as Lobos football coach — shortly after the completion of a 4-8 season and just three months after signing a contract extension that included a 70 percent raise.
Under Mike Locksley, hired as Long’s successor, UNM went 2-26. After Locksley was fired four games into the 2011 season, the Lobos were 1-7 under interim head coach George Barlow.
Davie, the former Notre Dame head coach who had spent the previous 10 years as a TV game analyst, guided New Mexico to a 4-9 record last season. Five of the nine losses were by seven points or fewer.
The Lobos ranked fifth nationally in rushing offense, and their average margin of defeat shrunk from some 30 points in 2011 to about five in Davie’s first year.
The team’s 2012 fall grade-point average of 2.62 was the program’s highest since 2008. Fourteen UNM players earned Mountain West Conference All-Academic honors, the highest number since the league’s inception in 1999.
“Maybe the most impressive part for me is how (Davie has) gone about his business,” Krebs said. “Very organized, very thoughtful, very detailed in making decisions.
“… The progress of the young men on and off the field, in the classroom, in the community, the feedback from the players, it’s just been refreshing to see his leadership.”
Davie’s contract pays him $760,000 a year from all sources, with incentives — none yet realized — that could earn another $350,000 annually.
His contract buyout figure, should he leave for another job, gradually diminishes as follows: $650,000 in year two, $450,000 in year three, $350,000 in year four and $250,000 the remainder of the contract.
Should UNM terminate Davie for performance-based reasons, it would owe him his entire annual salary for the first three years of the contract. The amount then reduces to $350,000.
LOBOS ON ESPNU: As previously reported, UNM’s Friday, Nov. 8, home football game against Air Force will be telecast on ESPNU. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Lobos-Falcons game is part of a seven-game package of Mountain West Conference games to be aired on ESPN networks.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal