Mike Bobo’s tenure: 7-6 does not seem so bad now

Jack Taylor

This past Friday at Canvas Stadium, the Colorado State University football team lost their final game of the season 31-24 to Boise State. Without bowl game eligibility, Rams players and fans will be waiting until next year’s Rocky Mountain Showdown to see CSU football again.

In wake of preparing for the 2020 season, CSU football will go through some of the biggest changes the team has seen in recent seasons. After ending the year with a dreadful loss at home, something has to budge. The fans know it, the players know it and the coaches know it. However, it’s much easier said than done. 

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After the home loss to Boise, head coach Mike Bobo had this to say about the team’s success: “It’s like I told them in there. ‘Despite the noise outside, we’re really close to being really good.’ But it’s a bottom-line business. I know that. I think we all know that, and we didn’t get it done enough this year.”

The most popular answer to CSU’s football success hiatus is to fire Bobo. But there is much more to fixing a losing football team than just firing the head coach.

Mike Bobo talks with former Colorado State running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. on the sidelines at the Rocky Mountain Showdown on Aug. 31. (Anna von Pechmann | Collegian)

Bobo was hired at CSU because of his success on the field as a player and on the sidelines as a coach. Bobo played quarterback at the University of Georgia. In his senior season (1997), he threw for an impressive 2,751 yards and 19 touchdowns. Obviously, Bobo can sling the ball. But most CSU football fans won’t care about his time as a player; fans care about his ability to coach their team.

With a perspective from the last few seasons, most fans would say that Bobo can’t coach. But there is a reason he was hired as the head football coach. CSU wouldn’t gamble millions away on an untested coach.

Bobo coached multiple NFL quarterbacks, such as Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) and Aaron Murray (Tampa Bay Vipers). After the 2012 CFB season, Bobo was a finalist for the Broyles Award, an award given to the best college football assistant coach. 

CSU placed a smart bet on the assistant coach from Georgia. Fans dreamed of success, and Bobo seemed to be the answer. And after the first season, Bobo seemed to be worth the millions he’s getting paid. CSU went 7-6 and appeared in the Arizona Bowl and opened up CSU’s ability to recruit players from the southern United States. The Rams were on the edge of becoming a top football university in the Mountain West. But now, four years since his hiring, CSU fans are calling for his job. 

Is firing Bobo going to save CSU football?

Former CSU President Tony Frank constructed a foundation for the University to field a successful football team. But after the 2019 season, the Rams finished with three rivalry game losses, no bowl game and an overall record of 4-8.

Former Colorado State University coach Sonny Lubick (left) with CSU President Tony Frank (middle) and AD Joe Parker (right). (Emmett McCarthy/Collegian)

Joe Parker was hired on March 17, 2015, by Frank. Parker came to CSU with an impressive resume. Before coming to CSU, Parker was the deputy athletic director for Texas Tech and senior associate A.D. for the University of Michigan, the University of Oklahoma, Washington State University and the University of Texas. All of these schools have one thing in common: dominance on the football field.

But CSU isn’t a big football school; CSU is known for its championship-caliber volleyball team and for having a top-ranked veterinary program. 

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Regardless of what CSU is renowned for, in 2015, CSU had a new athletic director in Parker, who came with a hunger and an understanding of how to run a successful football program, and a promising new coach in Bobo, who would be at the helm of the team. However, the team needed one more piece to finish the puzzle — a stadium that could fit all of the fans.

Before the Canvas Stadium’s inaugural season in 2017, fans crammed into Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. The off-campus stadium only had a capacity of 32,500 compared to the new Canvas Stadium with a capacity of 41,000.

During the two seasons Bobo coached games at Hughes, only three of the 12 games played at home were sold out. Over the two years in Canvas Stadium, CSU football has been terrible. It also seems that the fans don’t care how nice the stadium is. If the team isn’t good, CSU fans won’t show up. 

With a new $220 million stadium, an experienced athletic director with the means and know-how to build a successful football program and a promising head coach, why does CSU football always seem to fall below expectations?

That’s the million dollar question fans want answered. The path forward is under the control of Parker, and fans will know soon if firing Bobo is in his plan.

Jack Taylor can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @j_taylr.