ALBUQUERQUE — Let the Bob Davie unemployment watch officially begin.
The University of New Mexico football coach, a name-brand man who seemed to garner a groundswell of public sympathy and support after a life-threatening medical condition just six weeks ago, is again on the hot seat after his Lobos dropped their third straight game and woke up Saturday morning as the last-place team in their division of the Mountain West Conference.
Davie’s job security is firmly in question after a one-win Colorado State squad shredded the hapless Lobos defense and scored 21 unanswered points en route to a 35-21 win before a lifeless crowd of 15,393 fans Friday night at Dreamstyle Stadium. It’s the 11th time in the last 12 home games that the team has failed to draw at least 20,000 people.
When asked about the inevitable chatter about his status, Davie said it’s not of much concern to him.
“That really, quite honestly to me, is of zero, zero issue to me,” he said. “Zero.”
Colorado State rolled up 551 yards of offense, taking advantage of 11 penalties and three turnovers by the Lobos.
Despite all that, UNM officials are mum on any discussion of Davie’s job status. Athletic director Eddie Nuñez refused to go on the record with a formal statement while watching Friday’s first half from the sidelines, saying only that he stands behind his football team and said there’s still half a season to go.
At 2-4 overall and 0-2 in league play, the Lobos will be considerable underdogs in each of their final six games. Each of their future opponents has a winning record, including a road trip in Week 11 to undefeated No. 14 Boise State.
UNM has dropped 22 of its last 30 games since hitting the high-water mark of a New Mexico Bowl championship at the end of the 2016 season, one of just two winning seasons Davie has posted in what is now year eight. Barring a remarkable and, frankly, unlikely recovery, the Lobos will fail to finish anywhere near .500 and earn the minimum six wins required to reach postseason bowl eligibility.
“I’ll take full responsibility for us,” Davie said. “Full responsibility, so that’s what it is. That’s what this profession is. There’s a scoreboard on what we do, and the bottom line: You’re expected to win.”
The mounting losses are but the latest in a long line of reasons fans have become increasingly apathetic toward a program trending in the wrong direction. The Lobos have averaged just 17,277 fans the last dozen home games. Friday’s game had just a few hundred fans left by the middle of the fourth quarter after UNM got within 28-21 and had the ball with a chance to tie it.
Many in the crowd were there for the halftime cheerleading performance by kids in the local Razzle Dazzle program that facilitates spirit squads in Albuquerque elementary and middle schools. When halftime — which didn’t start until after an agonizing two-hour first half marred by penalties, TV timeouts and video replays — finally wrapped up, thousands of fans headed for the exits. With fan support steadily declining, the losses piling up and hope of getting any better overnight all but dead, the attention is naturally shifting toward Davie’s job retention. His standing before the media multiple times this week to take responsibility for the decline isn’t slowing down talk about his potential demise as the leader of a program whose identity is increasingly becoming synonymous with failure.
“There’s no excuses,” Davie said. “It doesn’t matter if there’s 5,000 people there or at the end of the game when there’s
500 people there, none of that stuff matters.”
Davie has been given contract extensions twice in his UNM tenure, the first coming in 2013 after his initial year with the team; the other in 2016 when he was extended two years through the 2021 season.
Without that extension, which bumped his base salary $50,000 to $442,690 annually (his actual total is approximately twice that figure after incentives and other perks), Davie’s contract would have expired after the 2019 regular season finale next month at Utah State.
Per terms of his agreement, the school would be required to buy out the remainder of his contract should it choose to fire him. That would leave UNM on the hook for approximately $900,000, not including whatever buyouts it would face should it choose to also fire Davie’s assistant coaches.
Still waiting: UNM athletics officials confirmed this week that the proposed multimedia rights agreement with Outfront Media is still not ready to go before the board of regents for approval. The regents are scheduled to meet Tuesday on the main campus.
The athletic department has been operating without a multimedia rights partner since terminating its contract with Learfield IMG College in July.