Full disclosure: Bob Davie and Mike Sherman, the former Green Bay Packers and Texas A&M head football coach, are close friends and have been for more than three decades.
Thus, if Sherman had anything negative to say about Davie’s University of New Mexico football program, he’d say it to Davie – not to the Albuquerque news media.
Even so, when a coach of Sherman’s experience talks about any football program, it’s worth a listen.
Sherman is in Albuquerque this week, visiting his longtime friend and taking a close look at the inner workings of Davie’s Lobos.
“Whatever Bob wants me to do,” Sherman said Tuesday morning in an interview with the Journal . “… I can come in and be a little more objective from the outside looking in than maybe someone on the inside.
“I’ve done this at other places, but this one is more personal. I know Bob, I know his family and really want to see him have success here. I feel empowered to come in and help, if I can.”
Davie’s three-year record at New Mexico is 11-26, 4-20 in Mountain West Conference play. But Sherman said he’s looking beyond – or perhaps underneath – the won-lost numbers.
“(Davie is) a very talented guy,” said Sherman, who worked with the UNM coach when the two were assistants at Pittsburgh, Tulane and Texas A&M. “Just sitting in those meetings with his staff and with the team, the things he talks about, both on and off (the field) and building the brand of what it takes to be a football player in this program, then you see the process.
“I never worried about the results as a head coach as much as the fans and the people making the (personnel) decisions did. … What’s the process? Let’s worry about the process, and the results will take care of themselves.”
Sherman knows only too well that fan, administration and/or front office impatience often trumps the process.
In six years as Green Bay’s head coach, he took the Packers to three division titles and four playoff berths. But after his first and only losing season (4-12) in 2005, he was fired.
In 2008, after spending two years as an NFL assistant, Sherman was hired to replace former UNM coach Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M.
Sherman went 25-25 in four years at College Station, but had brought into the program a highly promising young quarterback named Johnny Manziel.
That wasn’t enough for the A&M administration, which fired Sherman after a 6-6 season in 2011. The next year, under coach Kevin Sumlin, Manziel would win the Heisman Trophy in leading the Aggies to an 11-2 record.
Sherman then served two years as the Miami Dolphins’ offensive coordinator. He was fired after the 2013 season.
This week, having watched film from last season, sat in on meetings and observed offseason workouts, Sherman said he likes the foundation he sees Davie building at New Mexico.
He’s hoping he can give the program a nudge in the positive direction he believes it’s already headed.
“I’m a fairly creative thinker, I think, so I throw stuff out there and see if it fits,” he said. “But (Davie and his staff) have a great plan in place on how they want to do things on and off the field.
“I always look for the communication, because that’s a key element, and there seems to be great communication and mutual respect.”
Regarding last year’s game film, Sherman was amazed by the number of long runs UNM was able to spring out of its triple-option offense. The passing game obviously has lagged, but he said that’s not a function of offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse’s system.
“In his scheme, he has a great passing attack,” Sherman said. “That’s not an issue. It’s just bringing the quarterbacks up to that level.
“(The Lobos) can be very multiple, and if you’re defending all the stuff (DeBesse) does with the triple option as well as the vertical passing game, that’s going to be a tough offense to defend.”
New Mexico’s more thorny problem has been the defense. The last three years, the Lobos have ranked 97th, 119th and 124th nationally in total yards allowed.
Defensively, Sherman said, “You can’t come in and just teach scheme and it’s like (a snap of the fingers). … I believe in what they’re doing defensively.
“(Defensive coordinator) Kevin Cosgrove is an excellent coach, as is Bob Davie, who has a phenomenal defensive background.
“So. I think it’s going to come. It just doesn’t come at the speed and time that fans usually want it, but it will come.”