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Time for Davie to say goodbye

November 28, 2018

If Lobo fans close their eyes and listen carefully, they will hear the echoes of a bygone era.

And they are happy it is bygone.

When University of New Mexico head football coach Bob Davie moaned about the the size advantage the Wyoming Cowboys had over the Lobos and lamented all the tools that program had compared to his, it struck a nerve that hadn’t been hit in 21 months.

When former Lobos men’s basketball coach Craig Neal complained about his team not staying in hotels the night before home games in February 2017, it sounded like the complaints of a man who knew his time was drawing to a close. And he needed to throw as many things in front of the bus that was about to hit him.

That gauging of the program’s temperature — whether it’s men’s basketball or football — never speaks well of the head man in charge. If anything, it foretells the closing chapter of a coaching era. Davie’s demeanor when talking to the media over the past eight days indicates a coach who is torn — between leaving on his own terms and timeline or just plain leaving.

When a coach gets to this point, the answer is pretty clear — Davie needs to go. The divide between Davie and the fan base has grown wider over the past few years. Remember, when the Lobos won nine games in 2016, attendance went down that year. The fan base is as indifferent to Davie as he is to it.

And Davie talks like a man who took one too many punches this year. From his 30-day suspension after an investigation into his conduct in dealing with his players and criminal investigations in February to budget cuts over the summer to a demoralizing loss to The Citadel to the blown second chance against San Diego State to a second-straight seven-game losing streak to close the season, maybe Davie has just had it with everything.

The way in which UNM handled the investigation in February said a lot about Davie’s standing within the new administration — he didn’t have much support to begin with, and whatever he had evaporated after that. The University should have fired him then and taken the battle to the courts.

As it stands now, the athletic department would be on the hook for more than $1 million to buy out Davie and his assistant coaches. Given that it is still trying to pay off 10 years’ worth of debt already, it’s not a good look to spend more money to get out of a bad situation.

Again, we have to look back at Neal’s situation to understand the dollars and cents — and common sense — of the situation. UNM took the $1 million financial hit on Neal because the administration saw declining revenue streams (read: ticket sales) and a run of player transfers in the final weeks. Here we are, 21 months later, in the same conundrum.

It might not be worth firing Davie and paying him off in the current climate, but is it worth keeping him knowing that attendance will decline even more? The cost-analysis of that assessment seems to indicate, “No.”

It’s time to retire another voice from the echo chamber.

Hopefully, we won’t have to hear it for a while.

James Barron writes an opinion column about sports in New Mexico. Contact Barron at 505-986-3045 or jbarron@sfnewmexican.com.

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