ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — First-Year Coach Davie Leads UNM in Season Opener
On July 24, at the Mountain West Conference Media Day in Las Vegas, Nev., first-year University of New Mexico football coach Bob Davie talked about the importance of establishing an identity for his program.
“Ours is going to be pretty simple,” he said. “It’s outwork; it’s out-hit; it’s out-discipline.”
This afternoon, Davie’s Lobos open the 2012 season at University Stadium against the Southern University Jaguars of Baton Rouge, La.
Lobos fans old, new and potential – not to mention Davie himself – will get to see firsthand how that new Lobo ID card is being manufactured.
Mark Koson, UNM’s director of ticketing services, said slightly more than 23,000 tickets for today’s game had been sold as of Friday afternoon. Koson said 11,173 season tickets have been sold, about 1,000 more than last year.
The ticket office in the northeast corner of the stadium opens at 11 a.m. Tickets are also available online at unmtickets.com and at Albertson’s stores in the Albuquerque area, Koson said.
Temperatures in the low to mid-90s are expected by the scheduled 3 p.m. kickoff.
The game will not be televised or streamed.
Davie has taken over a UNM program that has won just three of its last 40 games. The Lobos haven’t won a season opener since 2005.
Southern, 4-7 last year while competing in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision – a rung below UNM – would seem to afford a golden opportunity.
The Jaguars, of course, aren’t looking at it that way. A $350,000 guarantee is nice, Southern coach Lyvonia “Stump” Mitchell told the Baton Rouge Advocate, but he said his team is seeking more than a financial windfall.
“We’re not just going up there (to Albuquerque) to collect a paycheck,” Mitchell said. “We’re going up there to try to get win No. 1.”
Baton Rouge was buffeted by winds and drenched by rain this week from Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac, and the Jaguars, as a result, had limited practice time this week. But they arrived in Albuquerque on Friday as scheduled and proceeded with their normal pregame routine.
No college team has been more buffeted and drenched the past three years than the Lobos.
Davie is eager to see how far his team has come – and how far it has to go.
“It’s been a long time,” Davie said. “At some point you have to go play.”
Lobo starting free safety Freddy Young, a fifth-year senior, is playing for his fourth head coach – interim or “permanent” – his fifth defensive coordinator and his fourth position coach. He’s eager to help forge a new identity out of an identity crisis.
“I can’t wait (for today’s game),” Young said. “I’ve been waiting all summer.”
Davie’s wait has been far longer. He last coached a game in December 2001 for Notre Dame against Purdue. The next day he was fired.
After a decade as a college football TV analyst, Davie was hired at New Mexico in November.
“I wish I could tell you exactly what to expect,” he said. “I don’t know myself.
“But I think you’re gonna see a bunch of guys and coaches that are anxious to get out there and play on what I think is a beautiful playing facility.”
The Lobos will be playing their first game on University Stadium’s new synthetic turf.
This has been a difficult week within the UNM program. Davie suspended two players after alcohol-related arrests, and two more will miss today’s game because of NCAA rules violations committed last season.
“In a way, it’s a cleansing process,” Davie said. “There’s nothing that, if I know about it, that doesn’t get exposed. And there’s no way guys are going to pretend through this program.”
Today’s halftime has been extended from 20 to 25 minutes to provide the renowned Southern marching band, widely known as the Human Jukebox, more time to perform.