FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Only once did Mike Bobo accidentally refer to his old place when he meant his new one.
Not bad considering the new head coach at Colorado State played quarterback at Georgia and then was an assistant for 14 seasons with the Bulldogs, including the last eight as offensive coordinator.
Old habits are simply hard to break.
“I promise you I’m not going to do that again,” Bobo cracked at a news conference Tuesday, surrounded by his wife, Lainie, and their five children. “I’m a Colorado State Ram through and through.”
Bobo steps in for Jim McElwain, who led the Rams to their fourth 10-win regular season before leaving for Florida.
This was actually the first position Bobo really pursued, taking a sign he recently saw as, well, a sign. He was recruiting for Georgia and visiting a player whose dad happened to be a football coach. There was a sign in the office that read, “get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Soon after, he was contacted by Colorado State, one of about 12 or 13 candidates the school was considering. Bobo just kept rising to the top because, “he has a fire in his belly to win football games,” interim athletic director John Morris said.
Bobo signed a five-year deal that starts at $1.35 million and increases $100,000 after every subsequent season. There are bonuses along the way, too.
If teams are interested in him down the road, the buyout is $5 million. That’s comparable to McElwain’s buyout clause in his first contract. It was increased to $7.5 million when he signed a new deal in August. The Gators and Rams eventually settled on a $7 million figure.
“I wanted a brilliant football mind,” Morris said. “Mike’s one of the leading offensive minds in the country.”
Bobo had been on Georgia coach Mark Richt’s staff since 2001 and was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, taking over the play-calling duties from Richt. The Bulldogs are averaging nearly 42 points and 455 yards per game heading into the Belk Bowl against Louisville on Dec. 30. Bobo won’t be on hand for it — too many other obligations.
One of the top priorities is assembling his staff. He didn’t give any indication of just which assistants he would bring in, but asked for $2.4 million — slightly more than McElwain received — to build his staff.
Bobo’s not ruling out any of the coaches that served under McElwain, realizing they were just as much a part of a 10-3 season that ended with a loss to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl last weekend.
“I want guys that are expert at what they do,” said Bobo, whose wife is the niece of longtime Georgia coach Vince Dooley. “I’m looking for family men. I’m looking guys who are married and have kids, because they know what it’s about. Again, we’re a family here at Colorado State.”
Bobo described the offense he intends to run as a pro style that uses a no huddle. The Rams will employ three or four receivers and sometimes line up two running backs and “let teams know we’re in the ballpark. We’re going to be a physical football ball team,” he said.
That’s worked well for Bulldog teams in the past. After all, Bobo helped coach players such as receiver A.J. Green, quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray, and tailback Knowshon Moreno.
On defense, the Rams will be fast and assertive.
The 40-year-old Bobo inherits quite a bit of talent, led by All-America receiver Rashard Higgins. Bobo plans on contacting all his players in the next day or so, just to get to know them.
Although offensive lineman Jake Bennett has yet to meet Bobo, he’s impressed with his resume.
“He’s definitely been doing something right at Georgia,” Bennett said. “To get a guy like that to come here just shows the type of commitment they have to keep us on the right track.”
That’s why the Rams turned to another high-profile Southeastern Conference assistant to run their program. It worked out well with McElwain, who arrived from Alabama and restored the shine to Colorado State.
“I’m confident (Mike) is going to give all of us a lot of memories on Saturdays that we’ll talk about for years to come,” school president Tony Frank said.
By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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