Todd Monken was the right hire for Kirby Smart and the Georgia football program at the right time. We needed an innovative offensive mind to come in and catch the Dawgs' offense up with the rest of the college football world. That high powered offense combined with a couple of nasty defenses led UGA to back to back national championships and has The University of Georgia on top of the college football world.
Gone is Monken and his highly prolific offense to the Baltimore Ravens. Back is former player and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. With Will Muschamp on staff as the co-defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart officially has the band back together for a reunion tour. As awesome as it is to see three former players from the same team now coaching together at their prestigious university, one has to ask "Was Mike Bobo the right offensive coordinator hire"?
Before you think I'm just trying to drag Bobo through the mud, read yesterday's Disney Dawg article on why he's the right hire. Also, get your vote in on whether you think he is the right hire or not.
The first aspect of Bobo's previous time as offensive coordinator in Athens that we have to look at is quarterback evaluation. There were obviously good evaluations in guys like DJ Shockley and Aaron Murray, but it's after Murray where questions arise. Again, our purpose is not to drag any former players through the mud. We always appreciate everything these guys have done for the football program and school. These guys had and have more football talent in their pinky finger than most of the people writing about them.
Saying that, how in the world do you end up with a quarterback room of Hutson Mason, Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta at The University of Georgia? Many fans, including this one, will never let go of the fact that Bobo let Deshaun Watson get away and win a national championship at Clemson. I see it as the single biggest mistake of his career. There is absolutely no excuse to let the all time passing yards leader for the state of Georgia escape. Instead, we ended up with a wing-t quarterback who became our punter.
After his previous stint as offensive coordinator at UGA, Bobo took his first head coaching gig at Colorado State. His offenses actually regressed there. In his first season leading the Rams the team scored 29.6 ppg, ranking a tawdry 62nd out of 128 teams. Let's be nice and chalk that up to the team adjusting to a new head coach and a new offensive system. They were almost a touchdown per game better in 2016 at 35.3 ppg, good enough for a ranking of 28th in the nation. Bobo's third season in Fort Collins saw a slight drop, finishing at 33.4 ppg, but still in the top 25% of college football. All three of those seasons resulted in a 7-6 record before the bottom fell out. The Rams scored almost 11 points per game less in 2018, finishing 108th out of 130 teams and a 3-9 record. Although the offense improved somewhat in 2019, it still wasn't anything close to Bobo's second and third years leading the Rams. Their points per game ranked 71st in the nation, their record only improved to 4-9, and Bobo was fired as head coach.
After his time with Colorado State, Will Muschamp hired Bobo to lead the offense at South Carolina in a last ditch effort to save his job. Obviously Bobo wasn't able to do that and actually had to take over as interim head coach the last three games of the season after Muschamp was fired. The Gamecocks ended up with a 2-8 record after scoring 23.5 ppg with former Colorado State quarterback Collin Hill under center for the majority of the season. Shane Beamer was hired and was actually set to keep Bobo on staff before he decided to take the offensive coordinator job under new head coach Bryan Harsin at Auburn. Most saw this as a disaster waiting to happen, which is exactly what it turned out to be. Bobo actually improved the scoring from 90th to 68th in college football with Bo Nix and TJ Finley under center.
I wanted to show those stats to make the point that after his last season as OC at UGA, Bobo has never been able to do more with less. It's even debatable that he had to do more with less in 2014 with a running back room of Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Nick Chubb, and Sony Michel. There were 127 other offensive coordinators that year who would've given anything to walk in and see those four ready to carry the ball. In the "Why Bobo is a Good Hire" article, I mentioned that he never has the offensive linemen that we have on the roster now. While this is true, it was at least partly his responsibility as an offensive coordinator to recruit those guys.
The excuses are going to be the state of the programs that he took over. As much as myself and most everyone loved Mark Richt, the Georgia football program was not in a great place at that time. The reasons can and have been debated for a decade and we won't go into that here, but it just wasn't. Colorado State was never going to be a powerhouse, but they were actually pretty successful under Jim McElwain, going 8-6 and 10-3 his second and last seasons. There was a reason South Carolina and Auburn were looking for new coaches, as they both were in a terrible state. But shouldn't a dynamic offensive coordinator be able to come in and at least show somewhat significant improvement from the previous year, even in year one?
Our own Graham Coffey has reported and I have been told that Bobo is going to run Monken's offense with pretty much the same terminology and that there won't be many changes at all. That's all fine and dandy and easy to say in February, but does the same hold true when spring practice starts? It's easy to say. Brian Schottenheimer said the same thing when he was hired. He then proceeded to change everything. Coaches can be stubborn and set in their ways. Kirby Smart is my favorite coach we've ever had, but there was a time I thought he'd never adjust to having a more dynamic offense like the ones we've had the past couple of years. Is Bobo willing to take what he's learned from previous stops that weren't so successful and adjust accordingly? Is Bobo willing to take the Porsche he's been given and keep the pedal to the metal or will he have to get under the hood and try to fix something that isn't broken? Of course exotic cars need tune ups every once in a while just like any other. A tune up is a far cry from an engine rebuild, especially if that engine just led that car to two straight championships.
It's okay to ask questions. While Kirby Smart has earned the benefit of the doubt, he's not untouchable. He did promote James Coley to offensive coordinator before bringing in Monken! It's okay to have doubts or concerns, many of us do. Should we have done a national search? Is Kirby just hiring his buddy? Would Bobo be on the radar if he wasn't here before?
We won't know the answers to those questions for a while. What we do know is that multiple coaches tried to hire Bobo as their OC. We know Kirby Smart got who he wanted and did it quick. He also got the man that Todd Monken wanted to take over for him. This is in the same cycle as Alabama hiring an inexperienced offensive coordinator who didn't do a great job at Notre Dame, after being told no by at least two others. Then the Fighting Irish replaced said offensive coordinator by promoting an assistant coach to call the plays for the first time ever.
Whether Bobo is the right hire or not is yet to be determined. What is certain is that it will be a good year being on top of the college football world again as national champions.