As news broke on Tuesday (reported first by Terry Frei of The Denver Post) that Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo would become the next head football coach at Colorado State, gloom and doom set in for Bulldogs fans.
But make no mistake about it, Bobo's departure is a win for the Georgia football program—and not for the arbitrary and consistently broken logic of a vocal minority of Bulldogs faithful.
No, Bobo's departure is not a home run because it means better coaching, stronger recruiting or more adept play-calling. Truth be told, Bobo's tenure in Athens was defined equally by fantastic development of quarterbacks (David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Murray), a consistent ability to woo incoming talent (Bobo currently ranks as the nation's 23rd-best recruiter, per 247Sports) and prolific offenses (this year's unit topped the SEC in points per game).
|Bobo's Time at Georgia|
|2007-2014||Offensive Coordinator, Quarterbacks Coach|
But his departure is a win for the Georgia football program nonetheless.
For Colorado State, the hiring of Bobo fit a recent pattern. In December 2011, the Rams brought in a proven offensive coordinator from an SEC power to be its head coach. Jim McElwain left national prominence as an assistant at Alabama for the top job in Fort Collins.
Now, Colorado State has done the same thing, and the implications are not to be ignored. Bobo's tenure at the helm of Georgia's offense merited head coaching consideration and a commitment from a program on the rise.
And while this doesn't concretely mean Georgia is the next Alabama or even on the same echelon, it certainly bodes well for how far this Bulldogs program has come. After all, when McElwain was ushered in at Colorado State, Georgia was fewer than 12 months removed from a losing 2010 campaign.
Further, the last time Georgia lost an assistant coach to a head coaching vacancy was following the 2006 campaign when Neil Callaway departed for UAB. Callaway coordinated Georgia's offense during one of the most successful periods of the program's history (from 2001-2006) before his departure. In a way, Bobo's move to Colorado State is indicative of similar success—at least as perceived from the outside looking in.
And while Bobo can't claim the accolades Callahan did, including an SEC Championship as offensive coordinator in 2005, his exit from Athens is a far cry from the circumstances that have led to more recent moves.
Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez was fired after the 2009 campaign and his successor, Todd Grantham, left for the same post at Louisville following the 2013 campaign.
Now, Georgia's athletic department must find a way to capitalize on this counterintuitive momentum. It is a credit to the football program that Bobo was afforded such an opportunity, but if Mark Richt doesn't make a strong hire backed with a large checkbook, then Bobo's departure could soon read more like an indictment.
Georgia returns a plethora of talent at the running back position, four starters on the offensive line, a number of capable wide receivers and a deep recruiting pipeline extending all the way into the class of 2016. Undoubtedly a bevy of candidates will be interested. But this hire shouldn't be about vetting potential employees so much as it should be about claiming the best man for the job.
Georgia did just that in January of this year when Grantham was quickly replaced with Jeremy Pruitt, who was fresh off a national championship win at Florida State. If the Bulldogs can stage a coup of that magnitude the program's future could suddenly be even brighter.
While Pruitt's first year in Athens was a convoluted mix of personnel changes, transfers, dismissals, improvements against the pass and regressions against the run, he energized the players under him and the fans in the stands.
It won't be easy for the next offensive coordinator to mirror that transition. For better or worse, Pruitt followed a coach who was disliked by many, and benefited—at least in fan sentiment—from Grantham's lateral, cash-grabbing move.
Whoever succeeds Bobo will be replacing the man behind the best offenses (statistically) in Georgia history. That's a high calling, and the challenge is all the more difficult since Bobo, who also played quarterback at Georgia, didn't burn bridges on his way out of town.
But such a hire isn't impossible. After all, if Bobo's move to Colorado State says anything about Georgia's program, it's that being the Bulldogs offensive coordinator can yield some very attractive opportunities.
Further, the next man up will have some coaches at his disposal as well. As Seth Emerson of The (Macon) Telegraph is reporting, offensive line coach Will Friend and director of player personnel Ronnie Letson are being considered for Bobo's staff at Colorado State. That means several other offensive assistants—most notably running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Bryan McClendon—should be back in Athens.
If a talented roster of players and assistants with a history of strong performance in the nation's toughest conference sounds like the recipe for future head coaching consideration, it's because Bobo maximized those ingredients. He leaves Georgia with a chance to replicate the process. That's a great gig in its own right.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.