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Santistevan: Expectations small for CSU football as Bobo enters year 5

In 2015, Colorado State University tagged a highly-respected offensive coordinator, Mike Bobo, away from his alma mater of the University of Georgia to lead the CSU football team as head coach. Four years later, and a program that was once viewed as on the rise has fallen into the college football abyss.

Coach Mike Bobo watches as then freshman Collin Hill throws at practice Sept. 14, 2016. Photo credit: Luke Walker

Through his first three seasons, Bobo led the Rams to three-straight 7-6 seasons with three bowl game appearances. At the beginning of camp last season, Bobo was being treated for peripheral neuropathy, and despite a talented roster, the Rams were never able to gather momentum and spiraled to a 3-9 record, their worst since 2011. 


Now, what can the Ram faithful expect from Bobo’s team in 2019? The offense lost their three best players in Preston Williams, Olabisi Johnson and Izzy Matthews, but quarterback Collin Hill is aiming for a big year in what should be his first full season under center. Hill has drawn national attention this offseason and can be in for a breakout season if he can find a way to gel with nearly new offensive personnel.


On the defensive side, the Rams return six starters and should see improvements on this side of the ball. The defensive line figures to be a strong suit for this team, led by Emmanuel Jones. In the secondary, defensive back Rashad Ajayi is set for a huge season.

Unfortunately, CSU has a brutal schedule in 2019. The Rams will face two Power 5 schools in the first three weeks. In conference play, they face a challenge, as they will meet all preseason top four teams in the Mountain West. Additionally, the Rams will face both the University of Wyoming and Air Force in back-to-back weeks. Bobo has consistently struggled to defeat both programs, going 1-3 versus both programs during his tenure.

Right now, CSU is only favored in two of their games, with one of those games being against an FCS school. Fans should know the expectations for the season are small. In fact, they are smaller than they have ever been under Bobo. CSU fans haven’t expected a losing season since 2012, but that’s where they stand today. 

Colorado State University football players sing the alma mater with the marching band after their defeat by the University of Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Showdown. (Tony VIllalobos May | Collegian)

Even though I fully believe this team will beat expectations and win more games than expected, I don’t see any chance this team plays for a bowl game in December. They aren’t going to win all three of their rivalry games, and they’re lucky if they win one. This will be another rebuilding year. That’s the harsh truth about this season.

Now back to the Bobo talk. Let’s be honest, CSU was not going to fire Bobo after last season’s disastrous campaign due to his $8 million buyout. However, after this season, that number shrinks to $3 million and gets lower and lower as the seasons progress.

To the surprise of nobody, Bobo is on the hot seat right now. How hot is that seat exactly? Nobody knows but Athletic Director Joe Parker, who announced at the end of last season that a 3-9 record was “not acceptable.”


Through four seasons, Bobo holds an overall record of 24-27, no bowl wins and only two rivalry game victories. As many college football analysts have predicted, CSU will finish below .500 this season, which means Bobo’s overall record will fall deeply under .500 with more than five seasons at the helm. No matter the character of any head coach, a below .500 record in five years will not keep you your job.

Only time will tell if the pitchforks come out in Canvas Stadium this season.

Sergio Santistevan can be reached at or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio.

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