May 10, 2012
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The ghostly message in the movie Field Of Dreams -- "If you build it, he will come," often has been twisted and applied to sports teams in need of fans: "If you build it, they will come."
Lobo Coach Bob Davie gets it. He understands the need to change the culture and the scoreboards that have been swirling around University of New Mexico football for the past three seasons.
He understands the "building" part. He also understands the building will be quicker, easier and more dynamic if a state and a community join in and help with the building.
"We understand we have to put a product out on the field," said the first-year UNM coach. "But we need to get everybody on board right now. We can't wait.
"There is something in this for everybody; for the whole community, for the state, for us. When you see how fans and communities rally around college football, you have a greater understanding of the total impact. It can be tremendous."
The unpredictability of Lobo football fans is not a new thing. When ex-Lobo coach Rocky Long walked away from the Lobo program he loved, he said that one of the program's more urgent needs was fans in the stands.
What Long - and Coach Davie - know is that football is a fun thing to support. It's a vibrant event of escapism that drops you into a community environment of bonding centered on a whole lot of activities that include a football game.
A college "Game Day" is a unique event.
"I was able to go places as a broadcaster that I never got to see as a coach," said Davie, a former analyst for ABC and ESPN. "I've got a deeper understanding and appreciation of how much these games mean to a community and how much that atmosphere brings to a community's sense of pride and oneness. It's a bonding environment.
"This experience isn't limited to the tradition-rich communities. It happens at all levels all across the country. The people in New Mexico deserve to have that and we need to build to that. We need the community to be a part of this journey."
Another thing about joining Davie and his talented staff on this journey is that the ticket to ride is an inexpensive pass. There are cheap seats. Lobo season tickets start at $78 for the six home games in 2012. That's about the price of six trips to the movie theater.
"College football is a fun, exciting afternoon or evening," said Paul Krebs, New Mexico's Vice President in charge of athletics. "We understand the winning part is important, but it's also important to create an environment that is traditional to so many college campuses and traditional to the college football experience.
"We accept our obligation to put a better product on the field, but we want to encourage our fans to get behind this effort now and not wait until we start winning again."
Obviously, Lobo football is important to the revenue flowing into the UNM athletic department. Overall athletic ticket revenues account for more than 20 percent of the moneys needed to operate the department.
The success of Lobo football at the gate helps Lobos football, but it also helps other Lobo programs and other Lobo student-athletes - students that graduate at a higher rate than the rest of the UNM campus.
Of course, winning football makes the afternoon - and the expenditure - more pleasant. But win or lose, a day with any college football game is never a day lost. With the Lobos, you have a chance to spend several hours under a New Mexico sky and enjoy a fall climate that has few equals. "The falls here are beautiful," said Davie.
You also get to spend time with one of America's finest games while supporting a lot of neat Lobos, who play the game with honest effort and pure passion - while representing your state.
Many communities cherish their football moments because of everything that moment represents. It's a community and a state bonding and rallying around their team.
It's a community of families spending time away from harsher realities of life and escaping into a special game - arguably America's Game.
"This is New Mexico and New Mexico football," said Davie. "Supporting your team should be contagious. Why wouldn't you come?"
This article began with the twisting of one phrase and we'll end it in similar fashion. If it takes a village to raise a child, maybe it takes a community to raise a football program.
Davie is willing to do his part. His Lobos - your Lobos - need some help.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.