Bobo had to go go: Started with promise, now a disappointment

Ryan Loberger

Breakups can be messy. But sometimes there’s a mutual feeling that it just wasn’t meant to be, and that’s case for the Colorado State football program and former head coach Mike Bobo. 

Ad

“We scheduled a team meeting today at 2:15 (p.m.),” CSU Athletic Director Joe Parker said. “He addressed the team first. … You could see a lot of love and care that was in the room. Some emotions, but in a positive way. I think they’re thankful for the relationship they share with (Bobo).”

Football coach during practice
Coach Mike Bobo high-fives a player during a drill at practice on Aug. 2. (Ashley Potts | Collegian)

After five years together, the two called it quits Wednesday. CSU athletics announced that the University had agreed to a settlement with the head coach, resulting in his dismissal from the team following the Rams’ second-straight losing season under his guidance.

“I leave Colorado State grateful for the opportunity,” Bobo said. “It was a pleasure to work for Joe Parker, a true professional. Lainie (Bobo), my entire family and I will always cherish the time we spent and relationships (we) formed here at Colorado State and in Fort Collins. We leave a solid foundation here, and I truly believe there are great things ahead for the Rams.”

The long-time Georgia offensive coordinator was announced as the head coach of Colorado State on Dec. 23, 2014, replacing Jim McElwain. In his tenure, Bobo was revered for his character. Those who worked closely with him have commented on how well the Georgia native treated those around him, including his players. 

“When you work alongside people and you care about those people, it’s hard when you have to shift gears and direction, and that’s where we’re at today,” Parker said. “Mike Bobo, I can’t say enough positive things about who he is as a person, what (he has)meant to CSU and the friendship I share with him.”

Seven wins over the last two seasons have left those associated with the program and the fanbase unfulfilled, prompting his departure.

Perhaps the pain of defeat in recent years was elevated by the fact that Bobo had become the only coach in CSU history to lead the Rams to three-straight bowl appearances in his first three years in control, but he came up short the past two yearsOr perhaps the thought of a what-could-have-been in McElwain still lingers in the minds of the Ram faithful: the one that led the program to a 10-3 record. The answer is likely both. 

After three 7-6 seasons coupled with three bowl losses, Bobo signed a five-year contract extension in 2017. Now, at the time of his firing, Bobo’s extension was set for a buyout of $5.5 million, and the hefty amount was set to drop to $3 million if Parker waited for Jan. 1, 2020, to fire him. Thankfully for the Rams and the pockets of the boosters, they won’t have to fork over that $5.5 million, as Bobo took a settlement, leaving money on the table and accepting a lesser amount.

Head coach Mike Bobo and Athletic Director Joe Parker discuss the new locker room with members of the media.
(Javon Harris | Collegian)

The buyout agreement the two parties reached compensates Bobo roughly $1.82 million over the next three years. The former Ram play-caller will cash in on June 30 from now until 2022, with $608,334 in 2020, $608,333 in 2021 and $608,333 in 2022. Had Bobo not complied with CSU athletics, it seems unlikely that the Rams would be able to afford to let Bobo go.

Ad

Parker said he believes department resources will be able to sustain the buyout, and they will look for a compensation package for the next head coach. 

As far as candidates go, Tony Alford, currently the running backs coach and assistant head coach at Ohio State, seems to be a viable option to replace Bobo. Alford, a CSU running back from 1987-90, was among those interviewed in 2014 when the University hired Bobo. 

Alford spent time under Urban Myer, Ryan Day and Brian Kelly of Notre Dame, where Alford worked as the running backs coach and ran recruiting for the Fighting Irish. 

Parker did express interest in a candidate that has experience as a head coach but didn’t specify whether he has a preference with offensive- or defensive-minded candidates. 

In the midst of the recruiting season and with National Signing Day exactly two months away, Parker and his staff will have to work quickly. 

“There’s a lot of schools that find themselves in the market for a head coach; we’re one of them now,” Parker said. “Timing (is) never really ideal, but we’re going to run an expedition search and … hopefully give that person an opportunity to put together a strong recruiting class and one that can contribute.” 

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Lobergerryan.