ATHENS – Mike Gottfried says Georgia fans should be careful what they wish for with regard to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. The long time college football analyst predicts Bobo likely will be leaving the Bulldogs sooner than they think — and it won’t be under the circumstances they might expect.
“They won’t have him long,” said Gottfried, a sportscaster and former head coach at Pittsburgh and three other college programs. “He will be a head coach real soon. Coach Bobo is a great human being and a great coach and he’s going to be a great head coach some day, without any doubt.”
Gottfried’s comments illustrate g the disjoint there is between fans’ perceptions the job Bobo is doing and what people inside the business think.
To a large contingent in the Bulldog nation, he is “Bobo the Buffoon” and “Mike Boo-Boo.” He’s characterized in fan forums and chatrooms as a dimwit who is overmatched weekly against the SEC’s powerful defensive minds. But inside college football Bobo in a much different light.
They point to the yards and points Georgia puts up every year, to Bobo’s development of high-caliber quarterbacks and skill players, to his cunning and effectiveness as a recruiter.
Most importantly, Bobo’s boss is quite pleased with him
“Well, I like what he does or he wouldn’t be there,” head coach Mark Richt said succinctly.
Indeed, Georgia’s offense has been very productive under Bobo’s leadership. Since succeeding Richt as the team’s play-caller and being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, the Bulldogs have averaged 392.5 yards and 31.6 points per game. That represents an increase of 4.5 yards and 3.3 points over what the team was doing when Richt was calling the shots on a game-by-game basis.
Bobo’s offenses have advanced the ball in more than one way as well. In 2007, the Bulldogs were among the SEC’s best rushing teams at 177 yards per game while finishing eighth passing. A year later they led the league in passing. This past season the Bulldogs were among the conference leaders in both rushing (5th) and passing (3rd).
Bobo’s offenses have been especially good at scoring. The Bulldogs have averaged more than 30 points per game in all but the 2009 season when they scored 28.9.
Nevertheless, a quick Google search pulls up webpages with unflattering names as “Fire Bobo,” Fire Bobo The Clown,” and “Keep Richt, Fire Bobo.”
None of which seems to faze Bobo at all. “I don’t pay any attention to that stuff,” he said.
Which is exactly the tact Bobo should take, Richt said.
“We don’t worry about that,” he said with a laugh. “Anybody who is a play-caller is 100 percent guaranteed to be criticized and critiqued and helped and anything else you can imagine. It comes with the territory.
“I don’t know how many years I called plays at Florida State. We had a pretty good run of victories and offensive output. But I caught heck all the time. I had one guy that was the president of the ‘Evict Richt Club.’ He had his website up and running and that was before they even had websites I think.”
Nevertheless.there is evidence that Bobo is underappreciated even inside the glassy walls of Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. Despite being a relative veteran in the volatile SEC coaching community – 12 years at one school, five as a coordinator – Bobo is not high-paid among his peers.
Bobo’s current salary of $325,000 per year ranks in the bottom half of the SEC and well behind those of relative newcomers such as Alabama’s Doug Nussmaier ($590,000), Auburn’s Scot Loeffler ($500,000) and Florida’s Brent Pease ($500,000), according to published reports.
Meanwhile, the trend in the college football business is for coordinators to have multiyear contracts. UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is about to ink his second three-year deal at more than twice Bobo’s salary. Bobo’s latest one-year deal expires June 30 of this year.
Bobo steadfastly refuses to discuss his contract status or any of the other job offers he’s received (there have been “a few,” he said).
“That’s not my style,” he said. “That’s just not who I am.”
Bobo, a father of five, said he prefers “to just do my job.” But it likely won’t be long before he commands more attention on the market. Bobo is represented by Birmingham-based attorney/agent Russ Campbell. Campbell’s client list includes a number of high-profile head coaches, including one whose name has been in the headlines lately — Bobby Petrino.
“Certainly the current trend has been toward multiyear contracts [for assistants],” Campbell told The AJC. “But like Mike, it’s just not our practice to talk about negotiations at all in the press. It just leaves a bad taste in the school’s mouth and it’s just not the way we do business. So I can’t confirm or deny that any negotiations are underway.”
But, salary talk aside, Campbell doesn’t believe his client gets enough respect.
“That’s something my partner and I have observed; the perception isn’t there on him that should be,” Campbell said. “If you look at the production, clearly he’s been very productive, very good for the offense. He’s a young coach and we really believe in him. But there’s a disjoint in perception and I find that curious. I think that’s one of the challenges we have, to try to change that a little bit.”
More than anything, Gottfried believes Bobo’s simply a victim of staying in the same place a long time.
“Sometimes it’s like when I see some of my former players, I still see them as 18 years old and they might be 35 or 40,” Gottfried said. “I think the fans still see him as that young quarterback. They don’t see him as the strategist who’s very intelligent and thinking ahead and setting up the gameplan every week. I think that’s what it is with the fans.”
Year Play-caller Total Scoring Pass Rush
2011 Bobo 3 (413.8) 4 (32.2) 3 (247.2) 5 (172.7)
2010 Bobo 8 (385.0) 4 (32.7) 5 (242.4) 10 (142.6)
2009 Bobo 8 (362.2) 7 (28.9) 7 (201.2) 7 (161.0)
2008 Bobo 2 (426.0) 3 (31.5) 1 (277.7) 5 (148.3)
2007 Bobo 6 (375.6) 5 (32.6) 8 (198.4) 4 (177.2)
2006 Richt 10 (311.8) 7 (25.2) 9 (184.4) 7 (127.4)
2005 Richt 3 (391.2) 2 (29.5) 2 (229.0) 3 (162.2)
2004 Richt 3 (404.5) 6 (27.9) 2 (247.7) 9 (156.8)
2003 Richt 5 (380.3) 7 (26.5) 3 (245.4) 10 (134.9)
2002 Richt 4 (384.9) 1 (32.1) 3 (245.4) 9 (139.6)
2001 Richt 3 (432.8) 4 (28.6) 5 (270.4) 4 (162.5)
TOTALS (avg) 5 (388.0) 4.6 (29.8) 4.4 (234.8) 6.6 (153.2)