Coaching college football is an interesting profession, to say the least.
Before 2017 kicked off – and Colorado State’s beautiful, new stadium opened – fans worried this would be the year Mike Bobo pushed his team to new heights and he’d be hired away to a Power 5 program somewhere.
Instead, after a third straight 7-6 season muddled in mediocrity mostly on the defensive side of the ball, Bobo’s almost the last one standing from the previous year’s staff. He’s looking to recruit and rebuild, not in a talent standpoint on the field, but in numerous coaching positions off the gridiron.
Offensive coordinator/o-line coach Will Friend was hired away by a P5 in the Tennessee Volunteers, and so was defensive backs’ coach Terry Fair. That’s actually a good look for a program, having G5 assistants poached by an SEC school; it shows Bobo and Co. were doing something right. Like being in the top 10 in yards per game, a school record 501 per contest for Bobo and Friend’s offense.
On the other side of the ball, Marty English retired while defensive line coach Ricky Logo and special teams coordinator Jamie Bryant were fired following the New Mexico Bowl loss on Dec. 16. Another loss to the staff came on New Year’s Eve, as Recruiting Director Geoff Martzen was hired away by UCLA.
Bobo cleaned house on defense, which was the smart move considering that phase of the game was holding the Rams back from truly competing for the Mountain West Championship. This season alone, the defense allowed 30-plus points five times and even their dynamic offense couldn’t overcome most of those deficits, going 1-4 in those games.
And while the most glaring deficiencies were on defense, special teams was anything but extraordinary in 2017. When Bryant was first brought in, in 2016, he helped improve the group when they disallowed a single blocked kick all year while simultaneously possessing one of the best punters in school history. Last season, though, there were seemingly special teams miscues every week. From a blocked punt returned for a touchdown against Abilene Christian to jumping offsides while trying to block multiple field goals and more.
So, what it all boils down to is Bobo needing to make many hires.
He may have already made one. Though no official announcement by the school has been made yet, Football Scoop was the first to report the Rams have/will hire Dave Johnson, mostly recently of Ohio, but also formerly of many schools, including Georgia with Bobo.
Johnson is rumored to be in the same coaching position as what Friend was filling, as the offensive coordinator, and moreso the offensive line coach, with Bobo likely still calling the plays. Johnson’s former team, Ohio, scored 2.49 points per drive, which was 15th best in the country, just ahead of CSU’s 2.48 per drive. Tim Albin, who’s been with Ohio for 13 years, is the one calling the plays in Ohio, though, so while the numbers sound good, we can’t put too much weight on them.
Besides Johnson, no other hires or rumors of them, have been made.
Charles Kelly, formerly of Florida State and a National Champion there, interviewed for the defensive coordinator position but left the meeting without a contract. Bobo said at his early signing period press conference he’d talked to six men about the defensive coordinator job, but that we can all assume none of those men will be the new D.C.
So, who will it be? There are too many names to guess, but one thing is for certain, with Mike Bobo attending the American Football Coaches Association Convention this weekend in Charlotte, NC, new hires are likely to be announced soon.
As Football Scoop explained last year of the AFCA Convention, lots and lots of coaches are there trying to impress, to get hired on at new schools and in new positions. That goes for young, up-and-coming graduate assistants all the way to the head coaching level.
Bobo probably has a list of men he’s looking to talk to, and he has lots of firepower to go after the best coach possible. That’s because, with Bobo’s contract extension, his assistant pay pool increased. Colorado State’s head coach can now offer a defensive coordinator more money, that D.C. will have the option of bringing in his own, entire defensive staff and they’ll be playing at the new, on-campus stadium.
The stadium, and the beauty of Fort Collins, helps with recruiting, which will be an important factor when determining a defensive coordinator, too.
So, in all likelihood, the Rams will have a new defensive coordinator and possibly an entire defensive staff by the start of next week, ending the longstanding question of “Who will be the next man to lead that side of the ball for Colorado State?”