By Jerry Briggs
New Mexico coach Bob Davie on Wednesday defended himself for expressing a desire to play at his home stadium in a bowl game for the second year in a row.
Davie had said in the days before his team’s regular-season finale that he would prefer to play in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
A little more than a week after New Mexico destroyed Wyoming, 56-35, the coach got his wish. The Lobos (8-4) were paired against the UTSA Roadrunners (6-6).
As a result, New Mexico and UTSA will kick off at 1 p.m. (central time) on Dec. 17 at University Stadium in Albuquerque.
On Wednesday, officials from both schools gathered for lunch and for a press conference with the New Mexico media to hype the game.
When Davie was asked to elaborate on his reasons for pushing to play at home again, the former head coach at Notre Dame spoke for several minutes on the subject.
“I think it’s a great bowl,” he said. “I spoke a little today at the luncheon, and, I’ve been to ‘em all, either (in) coaching or broadcasting. I’ve been to every bowl across the country. This is a good bowl.”
Asked what makes it so good, Davie said, “several things,” noting a city with an array of housing choices and a “flavor” that college students enjoy.
“Albuquerque’s a bit different,” he said. “Kids appreciate that.”
The first bowl game in UTSA’s history is the first of a 40-game, bowl season scheduled to be aired nationally on ESPN.
“The thing that really makes it good,” Davie said, “is … that 2 o’clock Eastern time kickoff (on) December 17th, before the clutter of all the other bowls start to run together. You know, having that first opportunity, to be that game … there’s a huge market that watches at least the first half.”
The coach acknowledged that many fans nationally will switch to the Las Vegas Bowl, matching Houston and San Diego State, which is scheduled to kick off 90 minutes later.
Regardless, Davie cited the importance of the date, which will give his players an opportunity to disperse for the holidays.
“They have a full month to go home and actually be college kids again,” he said.
As the regular season went into its last week, Davie said it came down to New Mexico having options to play in the Arizona Bowl or at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
In that regard, it made more sense to play at home, said Davie, whose team lost to Arizona in last year’s New Mexico Bowl.
“When Hawaii became bowl-eligible and took the Hawaii Bowl, where were we going to go?” the coach asked. “So, for all reasons, people (in Albuquerque) ought to be really excited about this. We have a big-time bowl game in New Mexico. Let’s show our support for having this game and come out.
“Don’t complain about who we’re playing or, ‘This is our second year here,’ and it’s a letdown,” he said. “This is (the state of) New Mexico’s bowl. We have a bowl game in Albuquerque. So, come out and support it and appreciate it.”
He said UTSA will pose problems for his team.
“Offensively they’re very balanced,” Davie said. “Defensively they’re probably as athletic as we’ve played. They’re in that group of some of the top teams that we’ve played -- athletically. You know, they’ve got good players at UTSA.”