Juggling Team, Recruiting, Staff-Building No Easy Task for Davie
Jan. 26, 2012
By Greg Archuleta
Bob Davie knew he was going to be a busy man since he first accepted the head football coaching job at the University of New Mexico in November.
He's been a chief executive officer, caretaker, human resource manager, spokesman and recruiter for the program. But there's one occupation Davie stresses that he hasn't undertaken in his new role.
As the first-year Lobo head coach and his new staff race to complete their first recruiting class on Feb. 1, Davie understands that the process they're using in evaluating prospective student-athletes for 2012 isn't nearly as thorough as it will be in 2013 and beyond.
"Recruiting is about building relationships," Davie said. "There's no question this first year is difficult because of that. So it is a little frustrating right now because we haven't built those relationships, but we're in the process of doing that."
Faced with such a dilemma, an incoming head coach's first inclination might be to take some short cuts, gamble with some scholarship offers and hope they work out.
That's the last thing Davie wanted to do.
"The biggest thing in this is not to panic, not to make a mistake," he said. "Don't bring someone in that does not fit what we're looking for from a character standpoint and how we want to be able to build this program."
Davie freely admits recruiting wasn't his first priority when he arrived onto the south campus.
"The first thing I had to do was just to try to get some stability to this program and the players that were here," he said. "I told the players that when I met with them early on - that most coaches are out recruiting right now, particularly if you're a new head coach. You're out there on the road because you missed some days already.
"I told them my first responsibility was to them because of all that's happened in this program; it was really important that I reach our players first."
Davie then set his sights on assembling a coaching staff. That process was methodical by design, though Davie knew full well that the recruiting clock was ticking.
"Whether we were hiring coaches or going out to recruit these players, we wanted to make sure we brought guys in that I think can start to build a foundation," Davie said.
And Davie didn't want to start bringing in a bunch of recruits without the input from a full staff of coaches.
"Evaluation is the biggest, biggest issue with us," he said. "I just want to make sure that we know to the best of our ability what we're getting. And that's hard. It's hard even when you've had a whole cycle of recruiting, but it's really hard when you're coming in the way we're coming in. So I've really chose to slow it down, try to really evaluate with an entire staff the players we're going to offer scholarships to."
Of course, Davie couldn't hold off completely on recruiting before hiring his entire staff. So he brought aboard assistants Coleman Hutzler and Jason Lenzmeier during his first few weeks, and the three hit the road. The experience brought back distant memories for Davie.
"I've kind of been out there on my own, which is hard because I've been looking at the maps, googling this and googling that," Davie said. "So I've been out there just like I was an assistant coach, just like every other coach on our staff is doing it.
"It's like riding a bike. It's back where I was 25 years ago as an assistant coach. To be honest, I kind of enjoy that, getting in there and finding out on my own and researching guys on my own. In some cases, I was the first coach from the University of New Mexico to talk to them, so it's been different. But that's where we are in this program right now; it's rolling up our sleeves, trying to make the best of a very difficult situation as it applies to recruiting this year."
The energy with which Davie and his staff have gone through the process has helped start the process of forging those critical relationships.
"The Lobo coaches did just a terrific job in recruiting our kids," said Mike Brookhart a high school coach in Colorado, who had two kids that UNM recruited. "The honesty they showed and how up front they were was really impressive. I really think Coach Davie will have that program dueling as a conference contender in no time."
Davie also showed early that he hasn't lost his ability to recruit. He persuaded quarterback Cole Gautsche of the New Mexico 5A champion Cleveland Storm to take a scholarship and enroll in January.
Securing Gautsche also proved Davie true to his word during his introductory news conference that recruiting New Mexico kids was important to him.
"What's encouraging is when you ask players to come in unofficially and we had about 23 players come in (for a recruiting weekend)," he said. "A lot of them drove from distance, they all came in with their parents and a lot them came in wearing Lobo gear. That was pretty exciting to me."
"I didn't do that (out of obligation). We are the University of New Mexico, and I know there's a lot of good football players (here). When I interviewed for the job and I researched and I looked in the back of that press guide, the majority of those players that played in the NFL or had the most success here were kids that came from the state of New Mexico. So that's why I did it; we have a chance to get some good players."
Which are what Davie and his full staff is trying to do in the final week of recruiting - from New Mexico and beyond. A full staff is in full stride as National Signing Day approaches, and Davie has been pleased by what they've been able to accomplish in such a short time.
"I think we've been encouraged by the fact that there is some potential in recruiting when you go out and you see that there is some name recognition with the staff we've hired and there is some credibility with the staff we've hired."
But he remains realistic about the Lobos' fortunes in 2012.
"I'm not going to sit here and say we've hit a home run in recruiting. I don't want to lead people on; we're just starting. We had 20 players in over the weekend, may have that many in next weekend. We're behind; we're scrambling in recruiting. But I'd rather be cautious. I'd rather be conservative and make sure we know what we're getting, rather than just offering a bunch of guys and throw it out there and see what we get."
So Davie came to New Mexico, not with a get-rich-quick scheme, but rather a methodical plan to build a sound foundation.
And those are the plans that have the potential to create a little magic.