New Mexico coach Davie prepares for homecoming against Pitt
After coach Bob Davie was hired last year at New Mexico, which had won three games in three seasons, he called each returning player into his office.
“If you could change one thing about the program,” Davie asked them, “what would it be?”
Davie recalled their answers Wednesday while taking a break from preparing the Lobos for their game Saturday against Pitt, a homecoming for the Moon graduate.
“Every one of those kids said it was discipline,” he said. “Guys did what they wanted to do (under the previous coach, Mike Locksley) and did things when they wanted to do them. There was division on the team. Guys quit, just caved in.”
The former Notre Dame coach (1997-2001) was pleased the players were asking for discipline, structure and guidance. In his mind, there was no other way to fix what was broken.
“When we took over here, it was really pretty dysfunctional, just a lot of issues,” said Davie, who came to New Mexico after 10 years as a college football analyst for ESPN.
“If you want discipline, you are going to get discipline,” he recalled telling the players. “Not everyone can do it that way. That's why not everybody chose to stay. That's fine. I understand that. But for us to re-establish this program, that was the way it had to be.”
Davie, 58, was content with the calm lifestyle that TV work provided him. But one day he and his wife Joanne were sitting on their patio in Scottsdale, Ariz., when she suggested he look into the New Mexico job.
That was enough for Davie, who started his 20-year, six-school career in 1977 as a graduate assistant at Pitt.
“It's like a curse,” he said. “You just have to do it again. The chance to take something and truly rebuild it, put your name on it and really start from scratch. The opportunity to build something at a place where people say it can't be done is exciting.”
New Mexico (1-1) won four games in 2012 while improving its scoring margin by 25.2 points and rushing yards by 188.1 per game.
Davie, a three-year starting tight end at Youngstown State, played for and coached with an interesting collection of people starting with former Blackhawk coach John Miller, who was his ninth-grade basketball coach at Moon; Jackie Sherrill; Jimmy Johnson; Dave Wannstedt and Foge Fazio at Pitt; and Notre Dame's Lou Holtz, who he replaced as head coach in 1997.
At Youngstown State, he played with NFL quarterbacks Ron Jaworski and Cliff Stoudt. But his YSU roommate, former Ellwood City basketball coach Al Campman, knew Davie best.
“There are a lot of great players who struggle in the coaching realm because of how hard you have to work,” Campman said.
“But Bob was a worker. He knew what it took to be great.”