Colorado State is turning to another high-profile Southeastern Conference assistant to run its program, bringing in Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo as head coach, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the details of the deal have not been finalized.
Bobo will take over for Jim McElwain, who was hired in Fort Collins, Colorado, on Dec. 13, 2011, after helping SEC-power Alabama win two national titles as an offensive coordinator. McElwain bolted for Florida after leading the Rams to one of their best regular seasons in program history.
The 40-year-old Bobo is a former Georgia quarterback who has been on Mark Richt’s staff since 2001. Bobo was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2007, taking over the play-calling duties from Richt.
Being one of the architects of Georgia’s offense, Bobo has received several feelers from other schools, but nothing serious until the Rams came along. The Bulldogs averaged nearly 42 points per game.
”He understands the game extremely well. He’s an old-school ball coach as far getting after it,” Richt recently said of Bobo. ”But he sees the big picture, too. He’s got all the ingredients. I’m not shocked that this is happening.”
Dave Baldwin served as Colorado State’s interim coach in the Las Vegas Bowl last weekend, where the Rams lost 45-10 loss to No. 23 Utah to finish 10-3. Baldwin said after the bowl game that he and the team’s coaches had received termination paperwork as a formality.
McElwain may have used the Rams as a stepping stone for a more lucrative coaching job with the Gators, but he left the team in solid shape – both financially (the Rams received $7 million as part of the buyout agreement with Florida) and on the field. McElwain certainly restored the luster to a program that had gone 3-9 in three straight seasons before his arrival.
In 2014, the Rams won 10 regular-season games for just the fourth time in school history.
Not only that, but McElwain left behind quite a few stars for Bobo to build around. To start with, there’s first-team All-America receiver Rashard Higgins, who finished with 96 catches for 1,750 yards and 17 TDs. Running back Dee Hart, a graduate transfer from Alabama, may be back, too, after a season in which he rushed for 1,275 yards and 16 scores.
The Rams, however, will be losing senior quarterback Garrett Grayson after he rewrote the CSU records books in his time under center.
But Bobo knows a thing or two about grooming elite quarterbacks. He worked with Aaron Murray, who set more than two dozen Georgia records, along with four SEC marks, and finished with 13,562 yards of total offense. Bobo has also coached Matthew Stafford, who now plays for the Detroit Lions.
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo and AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry contributed to this report.