Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo wanted to scratch an itch to become a head coach, and after Colorado State couldn’t land Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost, the Rams pursued Bobo, and he accepted the job. One SEC offensive coordinator, Jim McElwain, left Alabama to lead the Rams, and now another SEC offensive coordinator has made the trip to Fort Collins.
Student Section editors Terry Johnson and Matt Zemek react to this move on multiple fronts, but the foremost question on everyone’s mind is how this will affect Georgia:
Very simply: What does Mike Bobo’s departure mean for Georgia?
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No matter how you look at it, this is a huge loss for Georgia.
In the short term, Bobo’s departure certainly doesn’t help the Dawgs in the Belk Bowl. It’s tough enough to replace your play-caller as it is. It’s even tougher against a Louisville defense that’s allowed only one opponent to eclipse the 400-yard barrier all season. Add in the fact that the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator is Todd Grantham – who knows the UGA personnel well from facing those players every day in practice for four years – and it doesn’t look good for the Dawgs.
However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say Georgia is completely doomed against UL. Don’t forget, Mark Richt is arguably one of the best offensive minds in college football history. If he’s calling the plays – as many expect him to – the Dawgs will move the football.
Unfortunately, Richt calling the plays isn’t a viable solution in the long run. After all, he delegated play-calling responsibilities to Bobo at the end of the 2006 season, so that he could focus on being the head coach. Considering how well that arrangement has worked over the past three seasons (468.8 yards, 38.7 points per game), there’s no reason to think that Richt would abandon it now.
That means hiring another offensive coordinator.
Let’s be honest: Bobo is going to be a tough act to follow. Sure, people questioned some of his play calls from time-to-time, but that’s true of all offensive coordinators. The fact is that Bobo did an excellent job with the Dawgs’ offense, guiding it to an average of 420.5 yards and 34.17 points per game in seven full seasons as an offensive coordinator. That’s quite a feat in the SEC, which typically boasts some of the toughest defenses in the country.
More importantly, it’ll be difficult to replace Bobo as a quarterbacks coach. In his ten years of mentoring Georgia’s signal callers, he helped mold David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford, and Aaron Murray into NFL-ready quarterbacks.
There aren’t many QB coaches that coach that many players in their career, let alone a ten-year span.
Whoever succeeds Bobo sure has his work cut out for him.
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Mike Bobo was not a bad offensive coordinator. It is indeed worth noting that Georgia’s more severe issues over the years have flowed from the defensive side of the ball, with Willie Martinez and Todd Grantham causing heartburn for Dawg fans at many points along the way. Yet, for all the faults one can find (or more precisely, emphasize) on defense in Athens, a few things remain with respect to Bobo and Georgia:
1) Bobo repeatedly failed to run the ball this season in late-game situations when go-ahead scores were attainable… and Hutson Mason — not Aaron Murray — was his quarterback. The South Carolina and Georgia Tech games were the foremost examples of this reality.
Bobo, as a coordinator, was the equivalent of a talented but wild streak shooter in basketball, such as Marshall Henderson. He added value to the team, but not without going through exasperating stretches in which he repeatedly made bad decisions. When he found a play-calling rhythm, though, he soared and could do no wrong. Bobo at his best was brilliant… but he then wandered through prolonged valleys as well. This is why the Georgia fan base is so split on him.
2) Georgia’s offenses consistently failed against Florida, scoring more than 24 points only once in the last seven outings against the Gators, dating back to 2008.
3) The Dawgs haven’t made a Sugar Bowl/BCS bowl/New Year’s Six bowl since the 2007 season.
Yes, the “two-team limit per conference” hurt Georgia’s BCS cause in 2012 (when the team lost to Alabama in an epic SEC Championship Game), but that’s the only case since 2007 in which the Dawgs deserved to play in a top-tier bowl game.
4) Georgia’s lack of a top-tier season since 2007 — with the exception of 2012 — has coexisted with membership in the SEC East, consistently the weaker SEC division.
Forget the inability to win the SEC — that’s not the biggest deficit to look at with Georgia in the Richt-Bobo era. What’s more germane to an evaluation of the program is that Georgia didn’t have to play Alabama and Arkansas (when coached by Bobby Petrino) on a consistent basis. (It has played Auburn every year.)
For a program of Georgia’s stature, results during Bobo’s tenure as offensive coordinator have been… decent. The program has occasionally contended for a national title and won a couple of SEC Easts in recent years… and that’s about it. The Dawgs have not been terrible, but they haven’t been special. Richt owned a gleaming resume at the end of the 2007 season. Since the partnership with Bobo began, Richt’s resume has deteriorated in quality — not by much, but it certainly hasn’t risen on an overall level. Richt’s first seven seasons in Athens have certainly been far better than the last seven.
Georgia could do much worse than Mike Bobo. That’s true.
It could also do better. Richt’s hire is going to be an incredibly important decision, one that could either reshape Georgia for the better… or lead to a lot of “shoulda left well enough alone” statements in future seasons.
If he makes the right hire, though, this could become a moment of considerable value Between The Hedges. The possibility of giving another bright mind the keys to Georgia’s seemingly endless talent at running back evokes images of hopefulness and new horizons in Athens.