Bobo is staying grounded despite raise

semerson@macon.comMarch 19, 2013 

ATHENS -- Mike Bobo isn’t giving off the airs of a rich man quite yet. He still sometimes looks like a man who doesn’t own an electric razor. And he’s still bragging about taking his family to breakfast at Stripling’s General Store, whose proud motto is “You never sausage a place.”

“Every time I used to go home in college I’d stop there and eat that sausage dog,” Bobo said Tuesday, recounting his drive from Athens to Thomasville when he was Georgia’s quarterback in the 1990s. “So when they built that out there (in Athens), I’ve been excited.”

Bobo might not be giving up his past, but his change in fortune is a stark one.

He’s no longer the much-maligned offensive coordinator. Now he’s 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 there’s gonna be critics this year the first time we punt,” he said. “I’m 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. That’s all I’m really concerned about.”

There might have been many critics, but the man who was always in Bobo’s 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 didn’t stop many from wondering whether Richt was still pulling the strings.

It’s clear by now that this is Bobo’s offense.

“There might be times I slip a little something on the side and say, ‘Hey if you like it good, if you don’t, that’s fine too,’ ” Richt said. “But I know what it’s like to be an offensive coordinator and to call plays when your head coach is the guy you’re replacing as the play-caller. I know it can be tough at times. But Mike’s 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.

“I’ve 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 that’s what I love about him more than anything, is he lets his coaches coach. He lets them learn from their mistakes, and he’s there when you need him. He’s 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 didn’t want to get into any of that.

“There’s always people calling and feelers. That’s part of the business. You don’t really like when it gets out there and I didn’t really like that it got out there with that deal (Virginia Tech) either,” Bobo said. “If something comes up that I’m interested in I’ll look at it. If I’m not, I won’t. That’s 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 that’s what I try to do every day.”

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