All it took for fans of the Georgia Bulldogs to finally appreciate offensive coordinator Mike Bobo was a little interest from another football program.
The oft-maligned assistant, who has turned Georgia into one of the most prolific offenses in the country, suddenly became a commodity worth keeping when it was learned that the Georgia Southern Eagles had an interest in him as a head coach. Fan concern only heightened when reports began to surface that the interest was mutual.
While an unsavory ending to a rocky season leaves plenty of reasons for Georgia fans to be unsettled over the offseason, there is one thing that they don’t need to worry about. Mike Bobo is not going to leave Georgia for Georgia Southern—or any other second-tier program for that matter.
On Wednesday, Bobo affirmed to Seth Emerson of the Macon Telegraph that he does in fact have head coaching aspirations. But he tapered that statement by adding, “But I also aspire to win a championship here at Georgia.”
For Bobo, both of those aspirations are very much on the table, but the opportunity to be a head coach is hardly a closing window.
Although he’s been at the University of Georgia for 13 seasons, Mike Bobo is still young at the age of 39. When that youth is combined with his long tenure at one of the nation’s premier programs and an impressive recent track record, it’s understandable that his head coaching stock is rising.
In 2012, Georgia shattered every school record for offensive production. As star after star went down with injuries this year, Bobo’s offense did not level off. His performance this year garnered him recognition as the nation’s best offensive coordinator according to 247Sports. And despite Aaron Murray's departure, Bobo could have his best coaching display ahead of him yet, with the Bulldogs returning a host of talent around new starter Hutson Mason.
In that regard, it doesn’t make sense for the young offensive guru to jump ship for the first head coaching offer he receives.
Small Program Challenges
Although the initial offer, if it does indeed come from Georgia Southern, may be flattering, it would also be littered with obstacles. Having coached under Mark Richt for over a decade, Bobo understands what it takes to be a successful head coach and establish oneself as a figurehead of the university. He’s also had a front-row seat to the criticism and pressures that come with the gig.
But he hasn’t experienced the challenges that less-dominant football programs face. Bobo has never had to recruit against a more powerful in-state program. He’s never had to campaign for a locker room renovation or more stadium seating. He’s never had to pinch pennies to squeeze together a coaching staff.
If he went to Georgia Southern or another second-tier program, he’d have to do all of those things without a road map or reference guide. Such intricacies would make his first head coaching job infinitely more challenging.
Furthermore, Bobo would likely be fulfilling all of those duties while being paid below market value. Although he’s arguably underpaid as an assistant, Bobo still made more than twice as much as Georgia Southern’s last head coach in 2013.
The compensation gaps between major conferences and smaller programs is drastic. In total, 31 FBS head coaches earned salaries less than Bobo's $575,000 annual salary this year. Only one of those coaches led a major conference team.
Until other, presumably better, offers present themselves, he’ll be better served as an assistant coach at Georgia, even from a financial standpoint.
|Select FBS Head Coaches Paid Less Than Mike Bobo|
|Mike Bobo||Georgia, Offensive Coordinator||$575,000|
|Rod Carey||Northern Illinois||$500,000|
|Dennis Franchione||Texas State||$375,000|
|Larry Coker||Texas - San Antonio||$350,000|
|Mike Bath||Miami (OH)||$250,000|
What’s Best for Bobo
Bobo told Emerson that his confidence in Mark Richt and the players at Georgia cause him to believe the Bulldogs are close to winning a championship.
While that assessment may have seemed more accurate following the 2012 season than it does now, he is around the program on a daily basis and is likely capable of evaluating the situation. If there is truth to that sentiment, then there is no reason for Mike Bobo to leave Georgia. After all, if the Bulldogs do in fact compete for championships over the coming years, it will because of Bobo’s offense.
If that happens, he’ll be glad he didn’t leave for a second-tier head coaching job as he’ll be fielding offers from some of the nation’s best programs. On the other hand, there will always be another Georgia Southern looking to give a talented offensive mind his first shot as a head coach.
For now, Mike Bobo’s not going anywhere.