Coach Bobo now enjoys Southern comfort zone
FORT COLLINS» While Mike Bobo took the podium Tuesday inside Colorado State’s on-campus stadium for its annual football media day, the coach’s family enjoyed the great outdoors. Among Bobo’s f ive children, two of his daughters attended Camp Timberline in Estes Park and his pair of sons f ished at Carter Lake in Loveland.
Bobo enters his third year leading the program this fall. It’s a far cry from the 14 previous he spent combined as an assistant and offensive coordinator at Georgia. Enough time, though, for Bobo and his family to settle in along the Front Range — de- spite some things never changing.
“I’m from the South,” Bobo said with his classic country twang, “if you couldn’t tell.”
The barometer for success in Bobo’s tenure can be measured in different ways. He’s the first coach in program history to reach a bowl game in each of his first two seasons, but the Rams fell in both, allowing Nevada and Idaho a combined 89 points in the process. CSU averaged nearly 48 points and 534 yards over its last six games in 2016 despite a three-quarterback carousel the begin the year. And now, Bobo is basking in the glow of new football facilities approved for construction prior to his 2014 arrival.
Bobo, the highest-paid coach in the Mountain West this season ($1.55 million), is well aware of heightened expectations this fall. He embraces them. But much of his comfort relies in the continuity of a third season in Fort Collins.
“I’m proud to be the head coach of this university where there is a commitment to the program,” Bobo said. “We talk about it
with our team, the pride they need to have for who they are representing.”
CSU quarterback Nick Stevens had just completed his redshirt freshman season when then-coach Jim McElwain bolted for Florida. Enter Bobo, who instantly worked to connect with returning players.
“It was a little bit weird at first, and it always is with a coaching change,” Stevens said. “But I think he’s treated me as one of his own guys. I think that I treat him like he’s the coach that sat down in my parents’ living room and recruited me.”
Same goes for recently recruited players, too, like receiver Michael Gallup. The former Butler (Kan.) Community College standout grew up in Monroe, Ga., about 230 miles north from Bobo’s hometown of Thomasville. Gallup signed with CSU in 2016, and Southern roots built camaraderie with his coach.
“We have a pretty good connection,” Gallup said. “A lot of the things he likes to refer to are from down South, his home. I think our relationship is good, and I think it’s building.”
The same can be said for offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Will Friend, whose experience as an assistant under Bobo dates to 2011 at Georgia. When asked if the grand vision Bobo laid three years ago has come to full fruition, Friend said, “We’ll see.”
“It’s been laid out to (players) what (coaches) want,” Friend added. “They know how we want them to practice, they know how we want them to compete, and that standard isn’t getting changed. If you’re consistent and you do it every day, you’ll get there. And we are going in the right direction.”
That growth includes Bobo’s connection to the community. He’ll get another chance to engage the Rams faithful Saturday for CSU’s open-house event, where thousands are expected to be in attendance for tours, a brick dedication, open practice and more.
But of course, Bobo is just an adopted son of the state. If only his accent didn’t give it away.
“People in the South think they’re the most polite and have the best manners in the world and treat everybody the right way,” Bobo said. “But I think my wife tells everybody all the time, she just cannot get over how genuinely nice everybody is in Colorado, how welcoming they are. We love it out here.”
Colorado State football coach Mike Bobo directs traffic at practice Tuesday across from the team’s new on-campus stadium.