ALBUQUERQUE —The dream of running through the tunnel to Notre Dame Stadium, gold helmets glistening in the sun, is the stuff of Hollywood lore and the reality of Bob Davie’s past.
Once the head coach of the Fighting Irish, he lived that dream for five seasons from 1997 to 2001. For better or worse, he is a part of the deep and glorified history of Notre Dame football.
After 18 years — 10 as an analyst for ESPN and the past eight as the University of New Mexico’s head coach — he was set to make that long-awaited run again when the Lobos make their first trip to South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 14. When UNM comes running onto the field to face college football’s most iconic program, however, Davie won’t be with them.
Citing the advice of his doctors and his wife, the 64-year-old announced Thursday that he will not be making the trip to Indiana when the Lobos battle No. 8 Notre Dame in a nationally televised game on NBC. He is still recovering from an undisclosed medical incident that required hospitalization following UNM’s season opening win last weekend.
“While I will be around next week and involved, I have decided to not make the trip to South Bend for our Sept. 14 game with Notre Dame,” Davie said in a statement. “After receiving advice from my doctors and wife, I wanted to make this decision now so our team and coaching staff could go into the weekend with clarity and consistency.”
Lobos assistant coach Saga Tuitele will assume the role as acting head coach in Davie’s absence. He is in his fourth season as a UNM assistant, having coordinated the run game and serving as the offensive line coach.
The team’s offensive and defensive coordinators, Joe Dailey and Jordan Peterson, will handle play calling for their units, as will Perry Eliano with special teams. Tuitele will be in charge of game management.
Davie has still not made a public appearance since he reportedly collapsed outside the team’s locker room and was rushed to UNM Hospital after the 39-31 win over Sam Houston State. Rampant speculation has ranged from a heart attack to heat stroke. The temperature at kickoff was 97 degrees and the first half was played in direct sunlight.
Neither Davie nor the school have disclosed what happened to him. A spokesperson within the athletic department said Davie will likely remain out of the public eye until at least next Tuesday when he is scheduled to make an appearance at the team’s weekly media luncheon.
“My doctors have said that with no setbacks I can expect a full recovery with no limitations,” Davie said. “I have great confidence in our staff and this gives us our best chance for success and limits the distractions.”
Sources close to the program said said Davie was discharged from the hospital earlier this week and has spent at least two days recuperating at home.
He was, however, at the football facility for Thursday morning’s practice but did not make himself available to the media. The Lobos conducted a light workout before the program hosted a tryout for walk-ons just before noon.
It was then that he informed the players and coaching staff that he would not be joining them for the Notre Dame game.
“We are very grateful that coach Davie had an opportunity today to briefly visit with his team and coaches,” UNM athletic director Eddie Nuñez said. “I know they appreciated being able to see him and visit with him.”
Former UNM athletic director Paul Krebs filed a waiver of arraignment earlier this week, avoiding a court appearance on criminal charges of, amongst other things, fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. He was indicted in District Court on Aug. 21 and was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. A spokesperson for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said the next setting will be a pretrial conference, presumably in the next week or two. … UNM has named Jalen Dominguez as the full-time director of the Lobo Club. He had been serving in an interim capacity until Nuñez made him the permanent director Wednesday. Dominguez’s official title is now associate athletic director and executive director of the Lobo Club. He will oversee all functions of the athletic department’s scholarship fundraising arm, including premium seating at sporting events and the Annual Fund.