ATHENS – Mike Bobo was asked to sign in at a visitor’s table on Saturday at Sanford Stadium, where he played and coached for two decades. It wasn’t clear if the person at the table knew who he was, though that may have been because of the hat, sunglasses and Colorado State shirt.
Then Bobo walked in and watched his first Georgia football practice in person since he left in December 2014 to start his head coaching career.
“To be honest it’s a little bit weird. You spent your whole life in one place and you’re driving back through town,” Bobo said later in the day. “Not as weird as I thought it was going to be. Maybe it’s me wanting to get back to Colorado. We start practice this week, and I’m anxious to get back and start with my football team.”
The sight of Bobo at a Georgia practice these days carries some symbolism. If the coaching change created factions – pro-Mark Richt and pro-Kirby Smart – then Bobo is in both of them.
Bobo worked for 14 years under Richt, as his quarterbacks coach and then also as offensive coordinator. He was basically Richt’s right-hand man for much of that time.
But Bobo is also close friends with Smart. The two were teammates at Georgia in the 1990s and have remained tight since then. Bobo said Saturday he was “excited for Kirby, I know he’s going do a good job.”
“He’s a guy who’s for coach Richt, he’s for coach Smart, he’s for the University of Georgia,” Smart said on Saturday. “And he’s given a lot of his life, and his family has been here, to this place. It’s important to me that he does give input. And he does a good job, and so does his dad.”
That would be George Bobo, who was with his son on Saturday. Like Smart’s father Sonny was a longtime high school coach in Georgia. When Smart was asked later if he had a chance to talk to “coach Bobo,” he answered:
“Sure did. Great dude. You’re talking about George Bobo, right?”
Kidding aside, Smart indicated he also hit up Mike Bobo for some offensive advice.
“It’s always good to get opinions from somebody else,” Smart said. “It was a great to have him out there because I think he’s a great offensive mind, and he helps me. He can see things that maybe I can’t see and talk to me about.”
Bobo was available to stop by because Colorado State is on spring break, and doesn’t begin spring practice until Friday. (That will also be the first CSU practice for Faton Bauta, the former Georgia quarterback Faton Bauta who transferred to re-join Bobo.)
So what was it like watching Georgia on Saturday, not only without Richt, but with his longtime friend now running things?
“It’s different,” Bobo said. “Obviously I’ll always love Mark Richt for giving me an opportunity, for what he did for me and my family, and also for what he did for my alma mater, the University of Georgia. And I’m excited for him, he’s got a job at the University of Miami, I’m excited for what he’s going to do.
“At the same time I’m excited for one of my close friends having a chance to be a head coach at both of our alma maters. I know he’s going to work tirelessly to try to help Georgia be the best it can be. I’m excited for him, and I’m excited for coach Richt, to see the next chapters of their careers.”