ATHENS -- Mike Bobo isnt giving off the airs of a rich man quite yet. He still sometimes looks like a man who doesnt own an electric razor. And hes still bragging about taking his family to breakfast at Striplings General Store, whose proud motto is You never sausage a place.
Every time I used to go home in college Id stop there and eat that sausage dog, Bobo said Tuesday, recounting his drive from Athens to Thomasville when he was Georgias quarterback in the 1990s. So when they built that out there (in Athens), Ive been excited.
Bobo might not be giving up his past, but his change in fortune is a stark one.
Hes no longer the much-maligned offensive coordinator. Now hes the well-paid offensive coordinator, one with more job security and who has fought off the advances from at least one other major program.
Fresh off a record-breaking season for the Georgia offense, Bobo is now the owner of a three-year contract that will pay him $575,000 annually, almost double his salary from last year. Bobo earned the deal after calling plays for a Bulldogs offense that led the nation in yards-per-play and set school records for points and touchdowns in a season.
And as recently as early last year, there were fans who wanted someone else calling plays. But Bobo declined to do a victory lap.
No. No. Because theres gonna be critics this year the first time we punt, he said. Im worried about how the guys on offense respond to when I walk into that room and respond to us as coaches and how they perform and play for us as a team and the University of Georgia. Thats all Im really concerned about.
There might have been many critics, but the man who was always in Bobos corner was his boss. Head coach Mark Richt, who hired Bobo to be the quarterbacks coach in 2001, promoted Bobo to offensive coordinator late in the 2007 season. Richt gave up the play-calling duties, but that didnt stop many from wondering whether Richt was still pulling the strings.
Its clear by now that this is Bobos offense.
There might be times I slip a little something on the side and say, Hey if you like it good, if you dont, thats fine too, Richt said. But I know what its like to be an offensive coordinator and to call plays when your head coach is the guy youre replacing as the play-caller. I know it can be tough at times. But Mikes handled everything fine.
Bobo joked that his first year at Georgia he felt like a graduate assistant in the game-planning room. Richt was not only the offensive coordinator but also a former college quarterback. Twelve years later, and five seasons into his tenure as offensive coordinator, Bobo said he has a much better comfort level -- but not because Richt ever limited him. For instance, the wrinkles that Georgia has tried the past few years (the spread offense, the pistol, the no-huddle) it was mainly Bobo.
Ive been truly blessed to work under a guy like Coach Richt, who has been patient with me, and let me grow and be my own coach, Bobo said. I think thats what I love about him more than anything, is he lets his coaches coach. He lets them learn from their mistakes, and hes there when you need him. Hes not overbearing. The opportunity to work with him as a coach and a man has been really important in my life.
Two months ago Virginia Tech reached out to Bobo, sending a plane to Athens in the hopes he would run the Hokies offense. It might not have been the only advance, but Bobo didnt want to get into any of that.
Theres always people calling and feelers. Thats part of the business. You dont really like when it gets out there and I didnt really like that it got out there with that deal (Virginia Tech) either, Bobo said. If something comes up that Im interested in Ill look at it. If Im not, I wont. Thats really my personal business between me and my family. And other than that my job is to get Georgia ready to go the best I can, and thats what I try to do every day.