By Daniel Libit
Marquez Mackey wants to make one thing perfectly clear: it’s not a matter of tough coaching.
That’s not why Bob Davie is under pressure, Mackey says, nor why players and staff have come forward to raise concerns about the University of New Mexico’s head football coach. Davie, in other words, is not the victim of reverse wimpery.
“I have been doing this shit for years,” Mackey told NMFishbowl.com. “You can’t tell us we don’t know the difference between crossing the line and tough coaching. I’m 25. I have been doing this since 1998…Coaches are tough, from Little League on up. I know what tough coaching is. I have been with other college coaches. I have never had a problem with a coach until Bob Davie.”
Mackey, originally from Florida, came to New Mexico in 2015 after an impressive showing at Contra Costa (Junior) College in California. Mackey said his coach there, Alonzo Carter, was a “tougher coach than Davie,” but kept his zeal within bounds.
“He would cuss, he would get on your ass, but you knew it was coaching,” said Mackey. “He wasn’t disrespecting you and throwing around racial slurs or subliminal (messages).”
(Davie did not respond to a request seeking his comment for this story.)
Earlier this month, NMFishbowl.com published the account of Jadon Boatright, one of Mackey’s former cohorts in the Lobos’ defensive backfield, who penned a letter last summer to the university’s then-interim president warning about Davie’s behavior.
Following the story’s publication, Mackey wrote to this reporter to offer a note of solidarity.
“I pray Jadon’s story really touches others, because, like he said, there are so many guys who can vouch but just choose not to,” Mackey said. “Many players witnessed a lot of things, but everyone didn’t get the same treatment, so I would understand some of those who stay in the shade as this story unfolds. Just to put it on the record, I would never recommend any athlete to ever play under Davie.”
Last week, the Albuquerque Journal published two stories that quibbled with Boatright’s assertions and questioned his integrity, based on statements made by Teton Saltes, a current redshirt sophomore on the team, and former Lobos Jake Rothschiller and Garrett Adcock.
Saltes posted a defense of Davie on another user’s Facebook thread, in which he argued that Boatright “had serious issues and not many people on the team liked him.” (Saltes did not respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.)
Adcock, currently UNM’s Student Regent, wrote an op-ed in the Journal on Feb. 21, in which he sought to “shape the dialogue” by providing his own positive experiences playing for Davie. Two weeks before that, Rothschiller wrote a letter to university officials and the Journal, in which he argued that the controversy surrounding Davie had been manufactured by untrustworthy sources.
“Coach Davie, the staff and the program have been under a dark cloud for much of the last 8 months,” Rothschiller wrote, according to the newspaper. “Those with an agenda, hurt feelings or plain dark hearts have falsely accused our mentors for reasons only they know.”
Neither Adcock nor Rothschiller responded to requests for comment.
“Certain guys were Davie’s guys,” Mackey said. “A lot of guys were there when the program was shit — those aren’t the guys Davie necessarily got on. So they are going to help him. Jadon wasn’t the only one with a problem with Davie. He was one of the main ones, but he was most definitely not the only — our whole cornerback group couldn’t stand Davie.”
Prior to Mackey and Boatright, former Lobo Tayo Adewon went on-the-record with NMFishbowl.com to discuss what he described as a culture of constant discord fostered by the head coach. Adewon, a junior-college transfer who completed his eligibility at UNM, accused Davie of intentionally ignoring evidence that star running back Teriyon Gipson may have been involved in the robbery of Adewon and another teammate.
Reached last week by text message, Adewon said he didn’t have much to add to his previous comments.
“Too busy with other stuff to be worried about Bob Davie,” Adewon said. “They just need to (fire) him and all them coaches.”
Mackey recognizes that he, like Boatright, is not an unblemished attester to Davie’s coaching, and that the circumstances of Mackey’s departure could invite similar calls of sour grapes. He ultimately left the program before his senior season, he says, after testing positive for marijuana.
Alonzo Carter, Mackey’s junior college coach, is now an assistant at San Jose State.
“He traveled a long way, first of all, coming from Florida,” Carter said of Mackey. “He persevered through a lot of things and I was real proud to see him work hard.”
Carter said that he had “no problems at all” with Mackey during the player’s two years at Contra Costa (Mackey sat out the first season for financial reasons). “All the players loved him, he was one of our team leaders.”
When Carter himself was in college at Cal State Hayward, his position coach was Al Simmons, who happened to also be Mackey’s position coach at UNM. (An aside: between his collegiate playing and coaching careers, Carter was a backup dancer and choreographer for MC Hammer.)
Carter said during Mackey’s first (junior) year at UNM, Simmons would sometimes call him to discuss the player’s progress, and occasionally noted that Mackey was frustrated with his lack of playing time.
“Al didn’t give me any negative reports, but he did tell me Marquez felt he should be playing more,” Carter said.
He added he was surprised to hear that Mackey would be among those raising alarms about his experience at UNM.
“I am an old-school disciplinarian coach,” Carter said, “and he was one of the ones that never tried to buck my system. I think one thing when you are dealing with young athletes, the biggest thing is not the ‘what,’ when they are messing up, it is more about the ‘why.’ Sometimes, it could be personal things in their life that are going on, that have nothing to do with football.”
He added: “What I know of Coach Davie, he has always been a fair man. The stuff [about Davie] I’ve read, I can’t say if it is true or false, but it doesn’t change my view of him as a man or a person.”
But Mackey argues that Davie has, by now, left behind enough of a public record to change that view.
Last month, Boatright told NMFishbowl.com that Davie would deputize his son-in-law, UNM football operations director Brian DeSpain, to be on the lookout during practices for school officials, so that Davie would know when to mind his Ps and Qs. DeSpain rejected this claim as nonsensical, noting that many of the team’s practices are open to the public and attended by media.
To Mackey, that’s the point.
“He has done this shit in public plenty of times,” Mackey said. “I don’t understand what they are not getting. It is repeatedly, throughout his tenure of being a coach, period — not just a head football coach. At some point in time you all have to catch on. Davie abuses his power; he is that type of guy, you can’t give him power. Every coach on the staff was disrespected by Davie, although they might not say it because they are on his payroll.”
In retrospect, Mackey said, he wished he had heeded the concerns raised in a 2013 letter by outgoing Lobo senior football players. That letter accused Davie of racial favoritism and inconsistently handling players who were caught using drugs.
“Honestly, it has been going on for so many years,” said Mackey. “I didn’t do enough research…Davie is 100 percent disrespectful. He is cool when he wants to be — I can’t stand that little fake-ass smile. You can see what happened to the program this year.”
The Lobos finished 3-9 in 2017.
Following the 2016 season, in which he played in six games, Mackey had shoulder surgery. Last March, it was officially announced that Mackey would sit out spring practice to focus on academics and recover from his surgery; but just a few months later, he was wiped clean from the roster.
Mackey said that one of his drug tests had come back diluted, and that Davie had told him that he would need to be re-tested. Mackey said that the coaching staff had proven to be highly selective in its enforcement of drug-testing procedures, a claim raised by other former players.
“All the other dudes that failed drug tests, the ones who were producing real heavy,” Mackey said, “next day they would pop up like nothing happened. [Davie] did a lot of bullshit stories, that was Davie’s MO.”
After he failed the re-test, Mackey said he had a meeting with Davie, in which the coach told him he was “technically not on the team,” but suggested that the door was open for his return.
Mackey said that he had no interest in returning and didn’t speak to Davie again after that. He said that Al Simmons continued to keep in touch with him after he left Albuquerque. “Me and Simmons had a great relationship,” Mackey said. Simmons, who is now an assistant coach at UNLV, did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Since leaving Albuquerque, Mackey made a brief stop at Southeastern University, an NAIA school in Lakeland, Fla., but he said he ended up leaving before the season started in hopes of finding a higher level of competition to play out his final year of collegiate eligibility.
Currently living in St. Petersburg, Mackey said he is “working, being a family man and training so I can stay in shape and be ready when the opportunity comes to play ball again.”
Mackey hopes now that Davie will not represent the culmination of his football journey.
“He shouldn’t be fucking coaching, at least not at New Mexico,” said Mackey. “New Mexico is too good of a place, the people are friendly and they love their football team. But I hated my time there simply because of that man.”
Correction: Teton Saltes’ comments about Jadon Boatright and Bob Davie were posted to a Facebook thread started by Roger Holien, a former volunteer chaplain for the UNM football team. This story originally stated that Saltes had made the post to his own Facebook wall.
(Featured Image courtesy of Marquez Mackey)