Bulldogs Beat

Analysis: Five more thoughts on Georgia without Bobo

It's the day after Mike Bobo's departure for Colorado State, and it's rainy and dreary in Athens. It fits the mood of uncertainty now around the program, the offense in particular.

It's a new world for Georgia football, and what that means is very much up in the air. Here are some additional thoughts as Georgia enters life without Bobo:

1. This is a tough loss for the program. Fans saw the playcalling, which sometimes they didn't like. But there was so much more that Bobo brought to the program.

Recruiting is one, and more people have appreciated that strength of Bobo the last few years.

But behind the scenes Bobo was, as my colleague Gentry Estes put it, a glue guy for the program. He knew everyone, which happens when you're around a place for basically your entire career.

As the offense itself, the outside world tends to focus on Saturdays, but so much more goes into being the offensive coordinator. The organization of the offense, installing of the gameplan, the development of the quarterbacks ... all that doesn't just happen. Georgia's offense has turned into a machine the past few years, and while talent is a big reason for that, so is the work that occured between Sunday and Friday.

2. The next six weeks, between now and signing day, is critical for the program. That includes making the right hire for offensive coordinator, winning the bowl game against Louisville, and holding on to as many recruits (and coaches) as possible.

Do that, and you can lessen the impact of Bobo's departure. Last year, it's easy to forget now, Todd Grantham's sudden departure wasn't immediately heralded as a great thing. I remember calling a staff member, who found out from me that Grantham was leaving, and he cursed at him for seemingly screwing over the team's recruiting for the final month. But Richt made the right hire in Pruitt, and the team actually finished stronger than it might have on signing day.

Of course that kind of transition, and the ability to luck into such an able replacement, is usually an exception to the rule. Pruitt's friendship with Will Friend and Bobo were key, and Friend and Bobo may both be gone this time.

3. Where it does help Georgia from a recruiting standpoint is that Bobo is going far away, and to a non-Power 5 conference. There aren't likely to be many recruits that Bobo can sway from Georgia to Colorado State, and in fact Bobo would seem to have every motivation to encourage recruits to stick with their commitment to Georgia.

This still may hurt with some of Georgia's offensive recruits, such as receiver Van Jefferson, who was already wavering. But many of Georgia's highest-rated recruits were on the defensive side. And while Bobo did run lead with the major one, Albany defensive tackle Trent Thompson, and schools like Alabama will surely make another run at him, Georgia has the advantage of a strong defensive staff that recruits well. Georgia is in a better position this year to withstand the damage.

The long-term impact on the recruiting front, however, remains to be seen. Bobo knew almost everybody in Georgia and the Southeast. That's impossible to replace. There's also more than a year between now and 2016 signing day for Jacob Eason, the quarterback out of Washington State, to change his mind.

4. In the large picture, Bobo's salary was an issue. But it was a separate one from him taking the Colorado State job. This was a good opportunity - the previous coach just got the Florida job - and Bobo was eager to be a head coach. Yeah, maybe if Georgia had offered to triple his salary it could have made Bobo think about it. But it couldn't offer him a chance to be a head coach.

So based on what I know at this point, there's no justification in saying Georgia "lost" Bobo because of a lack of commitment.

The issue going forward is how loose the purse strings will be when it comes to hiring the next offensive coordinator, and in keeping current Georgia assistants. Bryan McClendon, for instance, may require a decent bump. Speaking of which ...

5. At the second I write this, it's hard to have a firm grasp on what Richt will do. I'm not sure he knows. Last year when Grantham left there was no game to be played and it wasn't Christmas week. This time around, unless Richt feels strongly about promoting a current assistant, he's likely to let this stretch out a bit, see what outside candidates bubble up, and make a decision after the bowl.

In the immediate future, the most likely scenario is Richt calling plays for the Belk Bowl, perhaps in collaboration with a current assistant or two. The most likely one would be Friend, who carries the running game coordinator title. But that leads us to another issue.

Friend appears to have a chance to follow Bobo to Colorado State, and become offensive coordinator. (Bobo would still call plays, per sources, in this arrangement.) Friend was at the Georgia basketball game on Sunday night, so it's not like he's been out west picking out real estate. At this point, the best guess is Friend will be at the Belk Bowl. Richt could also try to keep him. This is a bit of a fluid situation, but it's a decent bet Richt is thinking about offensive line coaching candidates as well.

6. Finally ...

I will do my best to keep everyone updated as news develops. But also understand that it's the holidays - happy Festivus everyone! (Oh, and merry Christmas.) I'll be in Charlotte on Dec. 26th. On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, however, news may be a bit scant. If Richt pulls a surprise and makes immediate moves, we'll be here to cover it. Otherwise, we are going to be careful to only write what we know.

Happy holidays!

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