With two new coordinators, Davie seeks consistency
ALBUQUERQUE — There’s a word UNM coach Bob Davie wants you to familiarize yourself with.
In the parlance of college football, it simply means holding it together and avoiding the kind of turnover in personnel that stunts growth and can be demoralizing when people pack up and ship out.
When a team has won just six games in two years and seen attendance drop to its lowest levels in a generation, it makes sense that people are wont to grab the nearest empty box, gather the ficus out of the corner and head out the door, help wanted ads tucked under one arm and a hitchhiker’s thumbs-up in the other.
Such is not necessarily the case at the University of New Mexico, where its football team has fallen on hard times under Davie’s watch. The Lobos have followed back-to-back bowl seasons by stumbling into the nether regions of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Off the field, there have been deep budget cuts, Davie’s 30-day unpaid suspension last year and the offseason exodus of both coordinators from a team that rode into the sunset with a seven-game losing streak.
Retaining coaches has been tough partly because of the team’s reputation, but mostly, Davie said, because of the lack of competitive salaries.
“There’s no question that keeping continuity at the Mountain West Conference level is a … joint effort by everybody,” Davie said, adding that UNM, by comparison to other league colleges, has done a better job of holding on to players and assistants.
“It parallels continuity on rosters the same way,” he said. “It is definitely like that. All you have to do is look at the salaries of [other] places. I mean, you’ve got defensive coordinators making $2 million.”
That’s far from the case at UNM, where new defensive coordinator Jordan Peterson is earning just a fraction of that. A typical coordinator at a Power Five school can make $750,000 a year or more, with a growing number make annual salaries of seven figures. Peterson’s contract is for $149,500.08.
“Well, I think coaches all across America have options, and at the end of the day, it’s about what’s important to you, individually,” Peterson said.
Toss out the paycheck, he added. The staff is younger as he and Joe Dailey taking over at the coordinator positions. Peterson said they both bring energy to the program, which creates a trickle-down effect on everyone else.
“I think our guys, coaches and players alike are really excited about the changes in scheme,” he said. “A lot of these guys will be more aggressive, schematically, allowing us to bring more punch.”
Dailey said what drew him to New Mexico was getting a sneak peek at what the Lobos had to offer. An assistant at Liberty last year, he was in Albuquerque when the Flames handed UNM an early season loss. Couple that with Davie’s track record that stretches to his days as a coordinator at Texas A&M and as a head coach at Notre Dame, and it was something Dailey wanted to learn from.
“The kicker of it all was coach Davie,” Dailey said. “He’s known for developing some of the top talent in coaching in the coaching ranks, so why not be a part of someone who’s developed some of the best names in college football? That’s what I really wanted to be a part of — Urban Meyer, Charlie Strong, Steve Addazio, Joker Phillips. There’s a long list of guys who are marquee names in this business, who when they first started out, no one knew who they were. But they started underneath Bob.”
Dailey’s contract will pay him $225,000 each of the next two years. He replaces Calvin Magee, who made the same amount in his one year at UNM before taking over as the tight ends coach at Ole Miss. A Power Five school, Ole Miss paid approximately $1.8 million in base salary to its two coordinators last year, both of whom have moved onto other major-college jobs.
“If you’re not paying as much then at somewhere else, you better be able to be competitive to keep coaches, so where does that come from?” Davie said. “Is that the culture of the program and selling out the stadium? Is it being at a place where it’s really important for football and you’re willing to take a pay cut because really love the place? So, across the board it’s a joint, joint effort.”
And it’s at that point, Davie added, that colleges have to be on the same page about the bigger picture.
“You have to be aligned from the administration all the way down in retention of players and coaches,” he said. “That’s what it is. Either the facilities have to be better, the internal alignment in the way people treat it have to be better. You know, all those things, so it’s a joint responsibility to try to do it. It’s a challenge. It’s a challenge.”
So exactly how close is UNM to achieving that alignment?
With a laugh, Davie said, “No comment, no comment.”
At that point, he spoke about the need to feed the players better if the college isn’t drawing 110,000 fans a game.
“If you’re not doing that, then you better have better resources on — somehow you gotta jointly, across the board, think about retention,” Davie said. “So, I mean, that’s what alignment in a program is. Somewhere along the line there has to be something, if you really want to get better, if you really want to compete and if you really want to make one more first down than that opponent, you better be aligned across the board to be able to do that. That’s the million dollar question right there — and it is about a million dollars.”
UNM athletic expenses
• UNM’s annual budget includes more than $14 million for coaching salaries.
• The Lobo football program has 10 coaches who cost over $150,000 in base pay every month.
• Bob Davie’s contract runs through Dec. 31, 2021.
• Davie’s base pay is $422,690.04, but compensation packages and performance incentives can take it to approximately $1.1 million
• UNM issues a monthly check of $35,224.17 to cover Davie’s base pay.