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Off-the-field issues frighten UNM football coach Davie the most

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Bob Davie knows it is out there waiting – a phone call, a media report.

It is not about job security. University of New Mexico President Bob Frank calls him the best football coach in America.

DAVIE: Talks to his players about more than football (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

DAVIE: Talks to his players about more than football (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

It is not about games or practices or schemes.

It is about the players, but not about their game preparation.

It’s about what can happen in a moment of bad judgment and the consequences it can trigger.

On Monday Davie showed his Lobos a YouTube clip about the confrontation between Texas Tech women’s basketball player and Cibola grad Amber Battle and Red Raiders football player Nigel Bethel. The two skirmished at a pickup basketball game. Bethel punched Battle. Both took responsibility for their actions. Both will serve suspensions.

It was over in seconds, but Davie had the clip shown in slow motion for emphasis.

Here’s how fast that event happened, he told them. Here’s how much time the football player had to respond.

“Then I took the headlines of everything that happened based on that one-second response,” Davie said.

Felony.

Kicked out of school.

“There’s an outcome that will affect the rest of your life,” Davie said.

He makes reference to an incident that happened in the spring. Crusoe Gongbay, expected to be UNM’s lead running back, and projected starting cornerback SaQwan Edwards were arrested on rape charges. The case was dropped, but prosecutors say they may revisit it. The players remain suspended from the team as UNM ponders possible disciplinary measures.

A matter does not have to rise to criminal status to affect a program.

“It was so frustrating to me because that day I talked about an almost exact situation and a response involving a pro player,” the coach said.

That case featured 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was among those investigated by Miami police for possible sexual misconduct. Kaepernick was eventually cleared, but not before he was run through the media mill.

Davie tells his players there are security cameras everywhere. There are smartphones that can shoot video everywhere.

“You talk about pressure,” Davie said. “To me, that’s the pressure. It’s not what kind of revenue are we generating. Can we turn the corner financially?

“It’s these kids – with so much riding on it for them, so much riding on us – making these decisions. And that’s scary. And I’ve raised two of them – or my wife has raised two of them.

“That’s the pressure. I’ve been miserable since that thing in the spring. That’s taken a toll on me.”

He remembers a particular visit with a player during his stint at ESPN.

“I’m doing maybe the biggest game in the country – with Brent Musburger – and it’s a Thursday,” Davie said. “I’m talking to one of the teams’ players.”

Davie wondered whether the player was going to get together with some of his teammates that night, if there was some kind of ritual he had going a couple of days prior to a big game.

“Naw,” the player told him. “I’m going back home tonight. My buddy’s got a birthday party.”

“Home” was about four hours away.

“He’s a key player,” Davie said. “I mean a big name, big-time player in the biggest game in college football that’s going to happen on Saturday night in front of 100,000 people. And I’m thinking, there’s no way your head coach will ever know you’re getting in a car and driving four hours to this party.

“That made an impression on me. We better get involved in these kids’ lives because there’s a lot of things going on.”

Davie ideally wants his players to take a leadership role with what happens off the field.

“The dynamic of a player getting on a player is what we’ve worked hard talking to our kids about,” he said. “But there’s almost an unwritten thing. Players have a hard time with that.”

He said players will take on leadership roles on the field, but off the field, they are uncomfortable with it.

“That’s the hardest piece,” he said. ” ‘Who are you to tell me?’ Guys are uncomfortable with that off the field. And that’s something we’ve tried to work on.”

Lobo sophomore Dakota Cox is already a team captain.

“With all the situations that have gone on (nationally), a lot of players have had a chance to learn,” Cox said. “Coach Davie has created such a disciplined atmosphere. We’re always going to be respectful. Other people can count on us to do what is right. Coach Davie has instilled that in us since Day One.”

Davie will be happy to know that. Still, he worries.

“We’re in that office from 6 o’clock in the morning to 10 o’clock at night,” Davie said. “There’s a whole world going on outside of our world.”

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