ATHENS – As Georgia gets set to open preseason camp on Monday, Mike Bobo and Colorado State already have been at it for nearly a week. On top of that, the Mountain West Conference held its annual “Summit” in Las Vegas in the middle of the week. Think of a miniature SEC Media Days crammed into a day and a half.
So these are very, very busy times for Georgia’s former offensive coordinator. But Bobo took time out of hectic schedule to provide an update for the “folks back home.”
“The summer seems to get shorter-and-shorter,” said Bobo, speaking by telephone after wrapping up his appearance at The Summit. “I only had about two weeks of dead period, so it’s been a shorter summer between that and the early start for us. And no two-a-days kind of lengthens your camp.”
The Rams are actually playing the first game in college football this year. They’ll play host to Oregon State on Aug. 26 at 2:30 p.m Eastern Time.
But that game couldn’t get here soon enough for supporters of that program. Not only did the Rams finish the 2016 season strong and are opening with a quality opponent, but they’re doing so in their brand new on-campus stadium.
Two years and a lot of embroiled politics later, the newly-constructed, $220 million Colorado State Stadium is open for business. The program set out to build an on-campus stadium in 2015, right about the time Jim McElwain left for Florida and Bobo left Georgia for Fort Collins. The Rams haven’t played on their campus since 1967 when they moved out to Hughes Stadium three miles west.
Originally expected to cost $195 million with half of the funds raised privately, the finished product is a 41,200-seat state-of-the-art facility that Bobo believes is going to be a difference-maker for his program.
“It’s a really big deal,” Bobo said. “When I took the job it was already in the works to build an on-campus stadium, so the players are excited to finally move in there. It’s surpassed all expectations I had. It’s a beautiful venue in the middle of of a beautiful campus, and the stadium seems like it’s been there forever. It fits perfect.”
— CSU Rams Football (@CSUFootball) July 16, 2017
From the football side of things, the facilities are a much-needed upgrade for Colorado State. It includes an 11,000-square foot weight room, a “fueling center” run by a full-time nutritionist, new training room, new meeting rooms, new locker rooms. It has a lot of the same things we hear about so much here in the SEC.
“It has all the amenities and is very functional for our football team, so we’re extremely excited about it,” Bobo said.
Despite what most around here would deem a pretty mediocre start, Colorado state is pretty excited about what they’re getting from Bobo so far as a head coach. The Rams have finished 7-6 in each of his two seasons at the helm, with close and crushingly disappointing losses in bowl games to end each year.
But they like what they’re seeing out of Bobo’s offenses. The Rams were really moving toward the end of last season. They averaged 47.8 points and 533.8 yards per game over the last six contests. They went 4-2 in that span, with the losses coming 49-46 on the road to rival Air Force and 61-50 to Idaho in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
So clearly he needs to fix that defense. But once again Bobo is orchestrating some masterful and prolific offenses. The top three seasons for total yards produced in UGA history all occurred with Bobo as offensive coordinator in 2012, ’13 and ’14, respectively.
“We got on a roll,” Bobo said of the Rams’ finish, not of his time at UGA. “I think that was because of quarterback play and we had some play-makers on the outside. Nick Stevens played extremely well. He really played as well as anybody in the country the last eight games.”
Stevens returns at quarterback this season, along with leading receiver Michael Gallup of Monroe, Ga., and the Rams’ top three rushers.
Of course, Bobo still keeps close tabs on what’s going on back at Georgia. He and Smart remain the best of friends. And while they didn’t get to hang out together this summer at Lake Oconee like they used to when they both assistant coaches, they stay in touch via text almost daily.
“We check on how the families are doing and what’s going on with the other guys we played with,” Bobo said. “We talk a good bit about situations that are going on in college football. That’s about it.”
Bobo also keeps up with the players he recruited and coached, such as quarterback Jacob Eason and tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. He was really glad to see the latter two come back for their senior seasons.
He also believes the offensive woes that have plagued the Bulldogs since his departure will soon remedy themselves
“I think they’ll be OK,” he said with a chuckle. “They’ve got a little bit of consistency with the same offense two years in a row and I think that’ll help. And those two backs are pretty good.”
Bobo actually gets back to the state of Georgia pretty often. Most of his family still lives here, of course. But he’s still leaning hard on the state in recruiting. Whenever he can incorporate the two, visiting family and top-notch recruits, he does.
“Obviously we recruit our state first, but we recruit Califormia, Texas, Florida and Georgia kind of like everybody does around the country,” Bobo said. “Everybody flies into Atlanta and recruits and we’re one of them. In 40-plus years I’ve built a lot of relationships and know a lot of people back that way and guys on our staff know. Joe Cox recruits that area for us and last year he did an outstanding job.”
The Rams signed five players out of Georgia last year, including two out of McEachern, one out of Grayson, one out of Woodland near Cartersville and one out of Chapel Hill over in Douglasville.
With such a recruiting presence in the state, wouldn’t it make sense, then, for the Rams to arrange a game against Georgia? Surely Bobo would like to come back to Sanford Stadium and take on his old buddy on their old stomping grounds.
“No, no, no!” Bobo said emphatically. “I mean, I’ve got Alabama this year in Tuscaloosa (Sept. 16, 8 p.m., ESPN). Next year I play two SEC schools. Arkansas is coming to Ft. Collins and we go to the Swamp in Florida. One’s enough; two is probably too many. I don’t need to play another SEC school anytime soon.”
Yeah, but Georgia’s not just another SEC school. And Mike Bobo, he’ll always be a Bulldog.