(AP) — Loss after loss, season after season, New Mexico's football team has been struggling.
Now, the Lobos are looking to Bob Davie to turn the tide. It promises to be a big challenge for Davie, the former Notre Dame coach who has been away from the sidelines for the past decade.
Welcomed by a crowd of cheerleaders and fans, Davie was introduced Thursday as New Mexico's 31st head coach. He's replacing Mike Locksley, who was fired mid-season after a nearly three-year tenure that was mostly marked by losses and off-field problems.
Davie, who most recently has been an ESPN college football analyst, is inheriting a program that has lost 35 of its last 38 games.
"I think the biggest concern coming in is that I know losing is hard on everyone. Losing brings out the worst in everyone," he said. "So the first thing is to stabilize this program, stabilize these players, the fan base, the people who care about Lobo football."
The second thing is to start chipping away and changing the culture, he said.
Davie's plan involves what he calls the three O's — out-work, out-discipline and out-hit.
It won't be easy for Davie or his players.
The program has been in a tailspin. The trouble culminated in the firing of Locksley on Sept. 26, a day after the Lobos lost 48-45 in overtime to Sam Houston State before an announced crowd of 16,313 — the smallest home crowd in nearly two decades.
Locksley had been surrounded by controversy almost as soon as he became head coach, facing a sexual harassment suit, a suspension after he punched another coach, and — the day before he was fired — criticism after police arrested his son's friend on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in an SUV registered to Locksley's wife.
Associate head coach and defensive coordinator George Barlow has been serving as interim coach. Under him, the Lobos (1-9, 1-4 Mountain West) got their first win of the season by beating UNLV 21-14 last week.
They have two games remaining, and Davie said he had no plans to step in before the end of the season. But he did promise to watch this weekend's game against Wyoming.
Davie and university officials are still working on the details of his six-year contract. He will be paid $700,000 the first year and $760,000 for each of the remaining years. Various incentives are also part of the deal.
Davie hasn't coached since being fired by Notre Dame in 2001. During his five years as head coach of the Irish, he compiled a 35-25 record. He also led the team to three bowl games, all losses.
However, Davie was the first coach in Notre Dame history to lead the Irish to a bowl game in his first season. He was also known for his "Wrecking Crew" defense while coaching at Texas A&M.
Before Davie took over at Norte Dame, the Irish had already started to slide with only 23 wins in three seasons, their lowest since former coach Lou Holtz's first two seasons in the late 1980s.
In New Mexico, fans dream of having that many wins.
Davie acknowledged that his time away from the sideline will be brought up, but he sees it as one of his advantages. He has spent the last 10 years traveling the country, analyzing what works, what doesn't and what motivates players.
"I have a whole different perspective on what college football is, what my role as the head coach is," Davie said. "I am not going to panic. I'm not going to be afraid to lose a game if that might keep us from building a solid foundation. I'm going to take my time. I'm going to do this step by step."
He also said he's not naïve.
"I'm not going to stand up here and just say things that maybe everybody wants to hear," he said. "We know what this is going to be."
When asked about when the Lobos might start winning games again, Davie made no promises, alluding to the hard work that he, the coaching staff and the players will have to put in.
"I know my plan will work if we give it time," he said. "Everybody, I'm talking about all of you, buy into that plan."
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