Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Bob Davie has one primary reason he wants to continue to be the head football coach at University of New Mexico after recently experiencing a health scare, he told the Journal in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“I’ve been told that (UNM football) can expect better alignment with administration, better communication, better support,” said Davie, the 64-year-old former Notre Dame coach who – per his doctors’ advice – is not making the trip for the Lobos’ game against the No. 7 Fighting Irish on Saturday.
“I really want to see what it looks like when we do have that.”
Davie’s Lobos have gone 3-9 the past two seasons. Between those two seasons, Davie served a 30-day suspension for accusations primarily of racially insensitive conduct and inappropriate action regarding a sexual assault accusation for one of his players. He has said he disagreed with the suspension.
He said he is motivated to return as head coach as he continues to recover from what UNM termed “a serious medical condition.” He is “week to week” and unsure when this season he will return.
When he does, he will continue to believe he is the best man for the program.
“We’ve done more with less (resources), and I’ve been told to do that for several years,” Davie said of his eight years as head coach. “I know it can be better. I want to see what we can do here with more alignment, more support. It’s not going to be better until we have a level playing field. I’ve been told we will get more support. I’m interested to see what we can do on a level playing field.”
UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said he and his staff want to improve the resources for all of the Lobos’ athletic programs.
“We have to continue to stay aligned,” Nuñez said. “We have to continue to grow our budget to provide every coach and every team the resources each needs to have the better opportunities to win. Our support is for him, and for all our student-athletes and all our teams.”
Davie, during a 20-minute interview, expressed an eagerness to continue on his path of recovery and return as the head coach in his regular capacity.
“Right now, I feel very appreciative and very motivated to take advantage of this gift I’ve been given. It could’ve gone the other way,” he said. “I’m tremendously motivated right now to do good things and do right. Find good in people and take a positive approach to this.”
Asked specifically by the Journal if his heart stopped after the 1-0 Lobos’ season-opening victory, Davie again declined to answer. He was seen several times clutching his torso while on the sidelines during the game, the Journal reported.
“During the second half of the game, I felt something and I knew it wasn’t exactly right,” Davie said Wednesday just before going onto the field at Dreamstyle Stadium for practice. “But you’re in the mindset that it’s going to go away. … It was never that dramatic of a thing. It was just kind of a shortness of breath. An uncomfortableness. Several times I did get my hands on my knees, had to kneel down. I struggled. The second half was a struggle. I was sweating, just profusely. It was a hot night. But we’ve been in heat. I’ve coached in heat my whole life.”
After the game, Davie said he felt compelled to sit at Alex Hart’s locker to gather himself.
“Then I got up to walk through the locker room door to go do the press conference,” Davie said. “I came out that locker room door and I remember just going down. … And the next thing I remember was clapping. There was clapping. Then I realized what had happened.”
Davie was then taken to UNM Hospital. He said he felt shock and a bit of embarrassment to have experienced that in front of players and his family. Davie’s wife, Joanne, rode in the ambulance with him. His son, Clay, the UNM tight ends coach, also witnessed the scene of UNM athletic training staff tending to his father and called it “surreal.”
Davie’s daughter, Audra, and son-in-law Brian DeSpain, the former UNM director of football operations, were also there. DeSpain now works for University of Arizona. The Wildcats were on a bye that weekend.
“It was tough for our whole team,” said Hart, a senior linebacker and a three-time team captain. “We’re just taking what we can out of it. We’re very fortunate that coach Davie is still here with us. He’s walking around at practice with us, as happy as can be. That’s what keeps us going. Coach Davie has helped build the culture here, and we’re still just living it as if he was here. We’re thankful and grateful for him. We’re just going to keep getting better and we’ll be playing for him.”