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Bob Davie: A Profile on UNM’s Head Coach

From South Bend, to the broadcast booth, to a troubled spring, all culminating to a fast start for the Lobos

Bob Davie on UNM’s sideline
Morgan Engle/USA Today

Three games into his seventh year at UNM, head coach Bob Davie and the Lobos are off to their best start in 11 years. An impressive accomplishment for both coach and team. But how well do any of us know Bob Davie and his track record both at UNM and previously at Notre Dame, where he served as head coach for five seasons?

University of Notre Dame (1997-2001)

Bob Davie began his head coaching career at the University of Notre Dame. Not a bad place to get your first opportunity to run a program. But he did have a tough act to follow, replacing legendary head coach and Notre Dame icon, Lou Holtz. Prior to Davie taking over the program, Holtz had presided of the Fight Irish for 11 seasons and is credited for returning the program to it’s former glory. Winning a National Championship in 1988 and racking up a total of 92 wins all time. Davie was Holtz’s defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, before being promoted head coach. Davie stepped into a bright spotlight when he took the head coaching job at Notre Dame. He inherited a program with high expectations. He also inherited a fan base that was not fond of his ascension to head coach. They cited Davie’s lack of knowledge and involvement in the traditions of Notre Dame. This rubbed the Irish faithful the wrong way. Davie encountered other road blocks in his time at South Bend that included a law suit from a former coach who argued that Davie fired him based off of age discrimination and defamation. Through a judge would later dismiss the chargers of defamation, but the university was eventually found guilty of age discrimination. There were also NCAA sanctions against Notre Dame for the actions of a booster. These sanctions would end up costing the school two scholarships and the university was placed on probation. On the field, Bob Davie’s time at Notre Dame could best be described as inconsistent. His teams regularly found themselves with slightly above .500 or losing records and having to rebound several times throughout a season from losing streaks. In five seasons at Notre Dame, Davie compiled a record of 35-25 and reached three bowl games, including the school’s first ever birth in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl game, the 2000 Fiesta Bowl against Oregon State. But unfortunately, Davie’s Irish would go 0-3 in bowl appearances. Their most notable bowl lost came in the Fiesta Bowl against Oregon State were they were blown out 41-9. The following season, the Irish posted a record of 5-6, and Davie was fired by the university.

ESPN2 and College Football Saturday Primetime (2007-2011)

In the time between losing his job at Notre Dame and being hired by UNM, Davie severed as a color analysis for ESPN and ABC on their primetime college Saturday games. Davie would hold this position from 2007-2011.

The University of New Mexico (2012-Present)

In 2012, Davie was named the 30th head coach in UNM’s history. He was brought in as the replacement for Mike Locksley. Unlike Notre Dame, the expectations in Albuquerque were very low. The team was coming off of back-to-back 1-11 seasons. Davie’s version of the Lobos would take some time to get off the ground. In his first three seasons at the helm, UNM finished with a losing record. But in 2015 season, the team would hit a resurgence. They would post a winning record, albeit barely at 7-6. But the team would also secure an invitation to play in a bowl game. UNM would go on to play the Arizona Wildcats in the 2015 New Mexico Bowl. The Lobos would find themselves on the losing end of a shoot out in the Duke City, the final score of the game was 45-37. The Lobos would build off of the momentum and carry it into the following season. In 2016, the Lobos would post their best record (so far) under Davie, going 9-4 and for the second year in a row, receiving an invitation to play in the New Mexico Bowl. Their opponent that year would be the University of Texas-San Antonio. UNM would narrowly beat UTSA by a final score of 23-20 and would secure Bob Davie the first bowl win of his head coaching career. This win was also UNM’s first bowl victory since 2007 and brought their record in bowl games up to 4-9-1. UNM couldn’t build off of this bowl win however and in their following season, posting another losing record at 3-9 and failing to be invited to any bowl game. This season could be seen as a disappointment given the previous two seasons. But the offseason would prove to be the rockiest part of the Lobos 2017 season. After the season ended, Davie would be accused of several serious allegations in the spring of 2017 from players at the University. Among the allegations was the physical assault of players, engaging in racist dialog, and obstructing a rape investigation. These issues were brought to the attention of the university through a letter from a whistle-blower. In the letter, the writer spoke of physical and violent situations between UNM players and coaches. Troubled by these claims, UNM interim president Chaouki Abdallah commissioned an investigation into the UNM football program. The investigation would find evidence that would lead into a more in-depth formal investigation into rather the coaches abused their player and also if the coaches at UNM had obstructed a law enforcement investigation into sexual assault allegations by a female UNM student against a Lobo football players. All of the investigations came to the same conclusion. It painted Davie as an obstructionist, who allegedly asked his players to get “dirt” on the girl who accused a UNM player of rape. Although there was no evidence that was able to conclude that Davie did obstruct the investigation. A report also described Davie has a crazed coach who showed complete disregard from the health a safety of his players. Often undermining the advice of his medical staff. Davie was also reported as bigot who routinely made racist comments against African-American players. Using phrases such as “blood diamond” and a former player accused Davie of repeated use of the “n-word”. All of these allegations and the investigations that followed them resulted in the 30-day suspension of coach Davie from the program. Davie also forfeited $70,000 of his annual salary and was required to attend in person trainings. This also left a black eye on the football program, as the entire saga was reported by numerous media outlets from across the nation. But three games into the season, the Lobos are 2-1 and no one is taking about that fact that their coach was under the microscope for some major issues just a few months back. The beat goes on for Davie and the Lobos, and we’ll see where they end up at the end of the season.

Looking Forward

The Lobos come off a by-week this weekend and will face Liberty on Saturday at 4:00 at Dreamstyle Stadium. Liberty is 1-2 coming into this match-up. In seven seasons under Davie, the Lobos post a record of 32-46.