Best buddies Mike Bobo and Kirby Smart will match wits in SEC title game

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is one of five finalists for the Frank Broyles assistant coach of the year award. (UGA photo)

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo is one of five finalists for the Frank Broyles assistant coach of the year award. (UGA photo)

ATHENS – We know from talking to Mike Bobo on Tuesday that he and close friend Kirby Smart first met as youngsters when they were ball boys for their fathers, who coached at rival high schools Thomasville and Bainbridge in the 1980s.

Bobo, Georgia’s offensive coordinator, spoke extensively about his relationship with Smart, Alabama’s defensive coordinator, as the best friends prepare to match wits in Saturday’s SEC Championship game.

We don’t know much about Smart’s side of the relationship because, well, Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t allow him speak to the media. Saban’s ascribes to the Bill Belichick coaching model where he insists on doing all the talking for the team to the exclusion of assistant coaches and all but a handful of players.

“I’m jealous,” joked Bobo, who has twice-a-week media responsibilities to fill with the Bulldogs. “I’ve told Claude (Felton) that several times.”

Like it or not, Bobo’s relationship with Smart is front and center this week as their high-powered units face off in a game that will determine which team plays Notre Dame for the national championship. Smart’s unit is ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense and points allowed while Bobo has Georgia’s offense on a record-setting pace in which it has already set records for points in a season and is on track to set the school record for total offense.

That it could come down to how these two South Georgia boys and former UGA teammates compete is somewhat fitting considering the competitive nature of their friendship.

“We’ve tended to compete at everything we’ve ever done, from cards to golf to who can get to the store the fastest,” said Bobo, who played quarterback for the Bulldogs from 1994-97; Smart was a defensive back from 1995-98. “It’s just one of those things. It never ends pretty, so we’ll just see.  . . . But this is a game. He ain’t on the field and I ain’t on the field. We’ve got to go out there and put our players in the best position to win and execute. Hopefully that’s what we’ll do on Saturday.”

Bobo was asked if he was excited about trying to outwit his friend/foe.

“I’m not really excited about any of it watching them on tape,” he said. “They’re pretty formidable opponent. You really can’t find a lot of answers watching tape. They do an outstanding job really just stopping everything the teams they play do. It’s going to be a tough challenge, which I know our guys are excited about. We’re not going to have to play perfect but we’re going to have to play good and play well on offense.”

Bobo and Smart are part of a small coaching fraternity that blossomed out of the Ray Goff era at Georgia. Bobo and Florida head coach Will Muschamp played together for one year under Goff and they were joined at different times by Travis Jones (now in the NFL), Brian Bohannon (now a Georgia Tech assistant) and Derek Dooley (who served as a grad assistant).

“We all talk and we’re all in coaching and everybody wishes everybody well,” Bobo said. “Obviously we’re all in the same league and play against each other, so it’s a tough deal and we don’t talk much during the season. But if one of us is out of it or not playing each other, we’re pulling for each other.”

This past summer they all gathered at Smart’s house for a get-together with the families.”Just hanging out with the kids and having fun, not really much talking football,” Bobo said

But Bobo and Smart, who were in each others’ weddings, have always been the closest of the group. They even used to ride together sometimes on spring recruiting trips. But they had to give that up because it became too competitive.

“We’ve agreed not to talk about recruiting,” Bobo said. “We don’t talk much hardly any during the season. It might be a text message after each game, congrats or keep your head up, one of those tings. But during the season there’s not much communication.”

And definitely not this week.

“We’re getting ready to play Alabama,” Bobo said. “I’m excited for these players. Obviously we’re excited as coaches to be in the SEC championship. But the bottom line is we’re getting ready for an opponent, the team we’re watching on tape. We’re worrying about what we can control and that’s executing our plays, not who’s on the other sideline or who the other team is. We’ve got to handle ourselves offensively.”

Bobo’s squad has done that well enough this season to earn him a spot among the five finalists for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes annually to the best assistant coach in college football. Should the Bulldogs upset Alabama and Smart’s ballyhooed defense, that’d  go a long way toward Bobo locking up the award.

Of course, Smart knows all about the Broyles Award.

“He won it,” Bobo said with a laugh. “First.”

106 comments Add your comment

Outer Banks Dawg

November 28th, 2012
11:15 am

First?

Cool side story! Bobo has been calling great games lately.

Go Dawgs!

Rooney

November 28th, 2012
11:16 am

Go Bobo, Kirby’s not so smart.

Outer Banks Dawg

November 28th, 2012
11:19 am

It’s amazing to me that Georgia fans fail to realize how we’ll respected Mike Bobo is among coaches in the SEC. He runs the closest thing to an NFL offense. I hope we can keep him with all of the opening for head coaching jobs across the country.

Bobo is a true Dawg, and I’m damn glad we have him.

Rooney

November 28th, 2012
11:22 am

bh

November 28th, 2012
11:22 am

playing a defense like Alabama’s (and like South Carolina’s) or any very strong defense, you have to know that you will be “hit in the mouth” at some point. UGA has not shown a propensity to be able to come back from that. If things begin well, they usually do ok; but they have to get better at pushing thru the blows they will receive against really good d’s. that is both the players and the coaches! Good luck UGA. Go dawgs!

MaxxDawg

November 28th, 2012
11:23 am

Nice article. People criticize Bobo, and sometimes rightfully so, but you can’t argue with the numbers this year.

rhbDAWG1

November 28th, 2012
11:27 am

I will be surprised and very pleased if we have Mike Bobo after the end of the season. Maybe it will be at Colorado so we don’t have to find out how wrong many of our fans have been over the last few years.

sj

November 28th, 2012
11:31 am

OkieDawg

November 28th, 2012
11:32 am

A great QB and two dependable hard running TBs can make a coach look really good. If Bobo wins the Broyles Award, he should share it with Aaron and Gurshall. He may become a target for another job. He can certainly recruit and develop QBs. And this year he has really got the offense rolling even with an inexperienced line and thinned out WR corps. Bobo has done a very good job this year.

ARdawg

November 28th, 2012
11:35 am

Tis sad, I remember and cheered these two clowns so It’s giving away my age. I’ve a lot of respect for Kirby Smart. He has done well but, he’s no longer a Dawg. It’s up to you CMB to slice, dice and julianne Kirby’s defense. The friendship can resume next Monday. Until then you are the only DGD in that relationship

Mark (another one)

November 28th, 2012
11:37 am

I didn’t think about the relationship between these two coaches. Great article. Both at near the top of their field, and only have the position of head coach as the possibility for advancement.

My hope is that Bobo is waiting for the right opportunity similar to the way Richt kept working away under Bowden waiting for a major program to offer him the opportunity. Too many times assistants are rushed to a head coaching position and they fail. Richt did a great job of getting himself prepared and seeking the right opportunity. When Bobo leaves (and I think he will because Richt is staying) I hope it is well planned and he gives himself every opportunity to be successful at the next level.

Inlet Dawg

November 28th, 2012
11:42 am

Bobo,Go out there and put it on your childhood friend/rival and smile all the way to the championship game.

SimpleDawg

November 28th, 2012
11:51 am

A pretty cool thing for long time best friends……

As for the rest of us……

Bobo, whip his ass!

SimpleDawg

November 28th, 2012
11:52 am

A pretty thing for long time best friends……

As for the rest of us……

Bobo, whip his ass!

WDE

November 28th, 2012
11:53 am

Well the last couple of years we have scored a ton of points and won a lot of games, CMB is one of the reasons for that he is and has always been a DGD! I hope he can find a way to put us in position to best a truly great defense this Saturday. Go Dogs !

Dawg Talk

November 28th, 2012
11:58 am

Two first-class assistant coaches!

JB

November 28th, 2012
12:07 pm

Million dollar question of what if………..What if Richt had NOT turned the tide the last two years and was fired and replaced by Smart. Would Bobo be the OC under his friend Kirby Smart?

Stiffneck

November 28th, 2012
12:11 pm

No-huddle, fast tempo from the first snap. Bama likes to sub and we will get free plays when they cannot get the D linemen off the field. Score first and build on that. Go dawgs!

JB

November 28th, 2012
12:20 pm

Go call Stiffneck. They are deep and quick tempo would make them fat Bama biscuit eaters have their hands on their knees after 3-4 plays.

rural dawg

November 28th, 2012
12:30 pm

been gone from this site awhile…out of curiosity, can someone tell me what happened to Bill King?

Joey

November 28th, 2012
12:32 pm

They are both DGDs, ARdawg. And one or the other will be the HC of UGA when Richt retires.

Bobo can probably seal that invitation with a win Saturday.

Go Dawgs.

Preston Thompson

November 28th, 2012
12:32 pm

JB……what if Richt was fired and was replaced by Bobo?

Nice article. I remember when they played. Was a pretty decent team. This game Saturday is going to be one for the timid to hide from. And I just feel Georgia’s got the pop in the front seven to show the naysayers a few things. Yup, gonna be a slobernocker for sure.

city dawg

November 28th, 2012
12:35 pm

@rd

AJC has been hiding the Junkyard Blawg in 2012. I don’t know why?

Go to the “UGA” page and dig around. You can find it if you look hard enough.

Joey

November 28th, 2012
12:36 pm

“Would Bobo be the OC under his friend Kirby Smart?”
*******************************************
JB, I think so and furthermore, I think Bobo’s offense would be more dynamic and less predictable if he was out from under Richt’s thumb.

I think it’s more Richt’s nature than Bobo’s, to be conservative in our offensive schemes.

city dawg

November 28th, 2012
12:39 pm

JB

November 28th, 2012
12:40 pm

I am surprised Bobo doesn’t get a sniff…..( For a HC job)…..But it could be like the Kirby/Saban thing…….Maybe everyone assumes It’s Richt pulling the offense strings still at UGA, not Bobo….

Dirty Dawg

November 28th, 2012
12:43 pm

Seems to me that Thomasville always beat up on Bainbridge…it’s a Southwest Georgia given or something. Lets hope it happens this time around. Then again, I think we’ve got a Bainbridge guy playing…or is it Donaldsonville, or maybe Attapulgus…Climax?…OK Cold-cuts (aka Colquit)…

rural dawg

November 28th, 2012
12:50 pm

@city dawg…yeah, I see it now, was looking for Bill’s ugly mug….thanks

JB

November 28th, 2012
12:53 pm

One more comment about Kirby. I would bet one difference you would see in a Kirby Regime at UGA would be 3-5 OL signed EVERY year to keep 12-15 in the program at all times From Freshman to seniors. Look at the 29 commits Richt has so far for next year. Only 3 OL. and I bet with 5 or 6 spots left, they will be TE’s and WR’s.

JB

November 28th, 2012
1:00 pm

I hope Richt has had Murray working on the short, quick passing game this week. Saban knows he gets happy feet in the pocket holding the ball and makes bad decisions. Saban will accommodate him. Gotta get that ball out quick. Richt/Bobo usually like to take 5 or 6 shots long every game. Probably only a couple of times against Bama to keep them from crowding the line.

david

November 28th, 2012
1:00 pm

Where has Sonny Cloisters been? his post from 8/17 that he liked to repost regarding UGA saying “wait till next year” and “farewll, adios, ciao. adieu. sayonara’???? Where are you Sonny? Fingers cramped up so you cant type? hahahhahahahahahaha GO DAWGS

Joey

November 28th, 2012
1:07 pm

Well, if Richt wanted Bobo to be more wide open, wouldn’t he just tell Bobo to do so?

I’m not advocating anything, just saying the O does appear to be a bit predictable, and that has to be Richt.

Also, a D like Bama’s will eat up “predictable.”

FB

November 28th, 2012
1:20 pm

With our young O Line, 3-4 signings is plenty. Worry about Saturday. I agree that we need to speed up a bit. Unfortunately, we need to open the run with the pass…

Smart was on staff

November 28th, 2012
1:26 pm

Folks forget that just a few short years ago Kirby Smart was a position coach on Richts staff

CHDawg

November 28th, 2012
1:36 pm

Who is smarter? Coach Bobo or Coach Smart? Let’s hope their names aren’t an indication.

Dawglasville

November 28th, 2012
1:39 pm

I look for Aaron to run a few times in this game. (I know some troll is going to say, “Run for his life.”). I believe everything goes now.

CHDawg

November 28th, 2012
1:42 pm

I hope they have a plan to cut Murray loose. If they can get a lot of pressure on him, running may be the key to the game. It freezes the pressure, but it does expose him more. He has to be smart about avoiding hits. Murray has good running skills, and Manziel showed they can be vulnerable to mobile QBs. If we can block, he can stay at home, but if it starts looking a game of tag, I hope he will move the chains some with his legs…Go Dawgs.

Fairweather

November 28th, 2012
1:46 pm

How many GA fans and long time Bobo detractors are finding it difficult to keep their mouths closed this year? Will predict you hear again from them Saturday night IF AL drops the hammer again on GA.

Arky

November 28th, 2012
1:59 pm

Bobo has already accepted the Baylor job.

Vanessa

November 28th, 2012
2:00 pm

I think there’s half a wit between both of these two.

robodawg

November 28th, 2012
2:02 pm

How did the Goff regime become such a hotbed for future coaches?

Football Fan

November 28th, 2012
2:08 pm

Roll Tide……….beat the easy schedule team UGA puppies.UGA does not deserve to be where they are. Other than UF and SCAR who have the puppies played? NOBODY

knoxdawg

November 28th, 2012
2:08 pm

Up tempo will be a big key, don’t allow Bama to substitute. Spread the field and make mismatches and get the ball in space and we will be ok. Gotta establish the passing game on first and second down w/ success and it will open up the running game. Agree we must come out fast and make good things happen. Game may settle down after that but starting fast is a must. UGA can win this game.

Football Fan

November 28th, 2012
2:10 pm

UGA players are horrible winners, their attitude and sportsmanship blows the big one.

CHDawg

November 28th, 2012
2:15 pm

Football Fan chides the Dawgs for sportmanship,
>>>UGA players are horrible winners, their attitude and sportsmanship blows the big one.
***and also***
>>Roll Tide……….beat the easy schedule team UGA puppies.UGA does not deserve to be where they are. Other than UF and SCAR who have the puppies played? NOBODY<<

FFan, thx for showing us a great example of gracious sportsmanship, buddy!

G-Dawg

November 28th, 2012
2:19 pm

CH…we’re gonna need some key scrambles my Murray to keep the chains moving. But he does need to avoid direct hits. Just make all offensive possession, positive gains!! Cant get into long downs situations.

A REAL Football Fan

November 28th, 2012
2:21 pm

Go Dogs…. beat the easy schedule team BAMA. BAMA does not deserve to be where they are. Other than LSU and Texas A&M who have the Tidies played? NOBODY!

Hey Football Fan… See what I did there? Now put on your leaf blower and get back to work. These leaves are not got pick themselves up….

Two to the shoe

November 28th, 2012
2:22 pm

Look, this love affair with Bobo is ridiculous. Yes, GA has had a good year but lets not forget that this is primarily due to both the “lighter” schedule and the fact that we have a running game this year. Bobo gets credit for recruiting these guys, but he also gets credit for getting out coached by SC, Boise, Michigan State, Central Florida, Oklahoma State etc. I wouldnt miss him if he gets pulled away and neither would GA. All that said, I have seen moments of brilliance from him. Its consistency that he lacks. His play calling in the 1st half of the SECCG last year was great,but then it was equally bad in the second half. This is a career defining season for all these coaches. Finish the drill and lets bring big AL to his knees.

A REAL Football Fan

November 28th, 2012
2:24 pm

Actually… On second thought, this is probably closer to the truth:

Now pick up you your slide rule and get back to work! These schematics won’t draw themselves…

Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Sat might be really big

November 28th, 2012
2:32 pm

Dear Coach Bobo….play fast, play faster, keep the pedal to the floor!
GO DAWGS