There were times during Bob Davie’s broadcasting career at ESPN that he missed coaching the game.
He longed for the long hours spent on preparing for an opponent rather than researching teams for some type of catchphrase delivered on a college football TV show.
After 10 years, he went back into the coaching game at University of New Mexico determined to revive a moribund program. Back then he never envisioned the script would take as many turns as it did in 2019, during what turned out to be his final season.
It ended Saturday, when Utah State defeated New Mexico 38-25 in Davie’s final game as UNM’s coach at a chilly Dreamstyle Stadium. The low number of fans in the stands, about 1,200 (official attendance was announced at 11,611) reflected one of the major challenges that the next coach must face.
“Probably not many people will remember that game as time goes on,” Davie said. “I will remember that game just because of, wow, up against it, right? Maybe 1,000 people there or 2,000 people there. Fourth quarterback. I mean no disrespect to Trae Hall. I thought he played really hard. The four turnovers got us.”
Davie, 65, after eight years at UNM, knew the end was coming. He said he saw the signs. But it was confirmed on Monday after UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said the coach and the school would “mutually agree to part ways” after the game against Utah State.
Davie would not comment on that phrasing and told reporters to ask Nuñez about how it happened.
It was basically the inevitable occurring one week early.
Davie saw it coming after the losses piled on. The Aggies (7-5, 6-2 in Mountain West Conference) dealt the Lobos (2-10, 0-8) their ninth straight loss. USU piled up yards 368 yards of offense taking advantage of UNM’s vulnerable defense, that showed plenty of fight. But as Davie said, the four turnovers proved to the Lobos’ demise.
New Mexico had suffered back-to-back 3-9 seasons, both ending with seven-game losing streaks, before the Lobos’ tumultuous 2019.
Hall, a redshirt freshman, became the fourth quarterback to start for UNM on Saturday. He rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start.
Hall took over for redshirt sophomore quarterback Tevaka Tuioti, who suffered a right hamstring injury last week.
Before Tuioti, there was senior Sheriron Jones, who was indefinitely suspended because of an indecent exposure accusation. That came a couple days after the Lobos’ 23-10 loss to Wyoming on Oct. 19.
Brandt Hughes, who won the starting job during preseason camp, suffered a right shoulder (throwing arm) injury in the season-opener.
There was actually bigger news in that season-opener after the Lobos beat Sam Houston State, 39-31. Davie experienced “a serious medical condition” and collapsed in the locker room moments before walking to conduct his postgame press conference. He was rushed to the hospital. He later said UNM athletic trainers and others saved his life.
Davie recovered after two games and remained determined to improve the Lobos. But injuries and more adversity hit his team.
Before UNM faced Air Force, he said the Lobos had started the season with 83 scholarship players, but were down to 57 available for the game.
One of the players lost for the season was Nahje Flowers, a 21-year-old defensive lineman who died unexpectedly on Nov. 5. Albuquerque police later determined the death to be by suicide.
The Lobos rescheduled their game against Air Force and finished the season.
Davie called for UNM and others to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to student-athletes’ welfare.
He also left with some parting words after the loss to the Aggies.
“Positivity, resilience, bounce-back, those are depletable resources,” Davie said. “That’s why alignment and support are so important because at some point you need rejuvenating along the way. This has been a unique, unique, unique challenge. It’s time for the next guy and I wish him well whoever that is and I wish the players well. But there needs to be alignment because it is a depletable resource when you’re the one doing it.”
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