** Preface - I apologize for the color formatting mix up. I hope it doesn't throw you off. Something weird happened between the online processor I use and clicking publish. And my HTML knowledge is limited at best. I've adjusted it the best I could. **
There's been rampant discussion about hotseats in Butts-Mehre and Hale has even asked us how deep our faith is in Coach Mark Richt. Instead of answering that question directly, I'd like to pose another.
Where's the love for Bobo?
It's out there in the Dawg Nation, for sure. But sometimes you have to look hard, in nooks and crannies and all that. Amidst all the ridiculous CMR hotseat horse$hit, perhaps the more relevant question is whether or not Mike Bobo is sitting on a campfire.
And truly, is there a more divisive name on Coach Mark Richt's staff than one Mike Bobo? Some put him on a pedestal and are ready to anoint him the next guru in offensive football. While others find everything he does simply offensive.
Where do I stand? Well, I'll get to that specifically. But for now let's look at the Dawgs' OC from a few different angles so that we can attack the full picture.
It's hard to argue against the team's offensive production the last couple seasons. As Bobo has ascended to the Offensive Coordinator position and wrenched the play calling duties from the head man's hands, he has built an impressive resumé. Maybe not spectacular, but his offense has been certainly produced.
The PPG drop may be concerning initially, but when you consider the talent drop off in the backfield between 2008 and 2009 (going from Stafford/Moreno to Cox/RB by committee) it's practically expected. In fact, it may play into Bobo's favor with many fans that the PPG only dropped a FG over those two seasons. Especially when looking at the +/- column that shows exactly how much more important that it was to outscore opponents the more Martinez ran the defense. In '07 we were nearly two TDs above the field; last season...only a Blair Walsh FG.
Play Calling/Game Management
But for all the points scored under Bobo's watch, there have been a few headscratchers as well. And if there's one gripe we all hear most about Coach Bobo it's his play-calling. On more than one occasion I've witnessed my own wife lose her religion over simple run vs pass play selection. And there have been numerous times when it is clear that Bobo has had a difficult time adjusting within the game.
Case in point - Oklahoma State, 2009. To go to Stillwater and only get 250 yards and 10 points is perplexing, to say the least. And to this date, that's the one that still sticks in my craw. The opening drive was a picture perfect set of plays; ten plays, 80 yards, 5 minutes and 7 points. After that the offense was the 40 year old virgin playing the field at a frat party.
Despite the Joe Cox season's eve illness, when you're given an off-season to prepare and never ever seem to be in sync after the opening drive, it hurts more than your image as a coordinator and play-caller. And when it's admitted that certain players only made the trip as ghosts...well, that's just as nutty as a squirrel turd.
Sure, the reason we only played three receivers the entire game in the '09 season opener is a mystery that falls on the position's coach, Tony Ball. But ultimately the miscommunications and the inabilities of the offensive personnel to fall into the rhythm of the game settles at the feet of the coordinator. And I think Bobo has plenty of room to grow in terms of managing both the day to day operations as CMRs OC and the play by play duties as his chief signal caller.
And yet the down to down type numbers work in Bobo's favor as well, for the most part.
I'm not suggesting that Coach Richt should be satisfied with a 39% 3rd down conversion mark. Not in the least. But given the struggles on the line and overall inconsistency at QB last season, finishing 5th in the SEC for that area is pretty good.
As with any stats, there's two sides to every story. I'm seeing them and explaining them one way and you may be seeing them completely different. For instance, it's easy to point to the 2007 season and say Bobo did a great job, but Stafford and Moreno could probably make Chan Gailey look like a genius. Furthermore, three years of stats isn't a lot to go on objectively.
And analyzing recruiting is far from objective, but Bobo has had his hands in recruiting for Georgia long before he began calling plays. I certainly can't speak for CMR. But if I had to guess, I'd say that Coach Bobo is about everything the head coach wants in a recruiter. He's young. He was raised in the South. He played for the school and had his share of signature moments. Played with some high profile NFL guys like Hines Ward. Has tutored the #1 pick in the NFL draft. Has a family... He's young.
If Coach Richt's name opens the door to a high profile recruit, there's a good chance that Bobo can seal the deal. He's gone head to head with the nation's best recruiters and has helped deliver some big names: MoMass, Caleb King, Rennie Curran, Richard Samuel, Marlon Brown and all of the QBs including Stafford...just to name a few.
Quite simply, Bobo is a force to be reckoned with in living rooms across the southeast. Mommas like him and their boys follow suit.
Variables Running Rampant
In every job there are things that we cannot control. If it were just a matter of being in charge I would imagine the country wouldn't be facing some of the issues we're facing right now. It's the same for Bobo, so we at least have to look at some of the hands he's been dealt.
Attrition can take on many forms, and all of them have slapped our offense in the face recently. Trinton Sturdivant is the prime example. To a lesser degree, AJs hamstring. Would a completely healthy O-line have meant more wins in '09? Possibly. Could a well behaved Figgins have meant more plays for the TE? Certainly.
Then there's the actual players that do play. Last season saw an uncanny and frustratingly adeptness at turning the ball over. While Bobo can be held responsible for calling some bad plays at bad times that produce terrible results (read: Spikes INT at goalline in Jax), it's the players that miss the blocks, miss the reads and let loose the ball from their grasp.
But perhaps the biggest factor out of Bobo's control is the defensive performance (and to a lesser degree the Special Teams' performance). I tend to think that Bobo makes his best play calls when emotions are high and momentum has swung. In Tuscaloosa when we faced our first possession of overtime, the defense had just held Bama to two yards and a FG. There was little doubt in my mind we weren't going for the endzone right away. One and done...good times.
But lately the defensive turnovers and sacks have been few and far between. Hopefully Grantham is in the process of cutting out that cancer. If he does it will always work to Bobo's advantage.
In the final analysis I'm pleased with Bobo as the offensive coordinator, while recognizing the vast room for improvement. Bobo's move to the sideline last season was a good and necessary tweak. As with any of us in our own jobs, I would imagine there are more adjustments being made behind the scenes that could also bring positive results. At least I hope so.
One thing is for certain, Bobo has finally seen what happens to assistant coaches that don't produce. I disagree with the Finebaums and the Murschels on Mark Richt's safety in Athens. It's just my humble one, but I believe he could survive another mediocre season. But let the experts pose their questions. Within the Dawg Nation I believe there are better ones to ask.
I guess it's hard not to feel the heat when you operate under a one year contract year to year. But Coach Bobo is certainly feeling more of it this season than last. Cuz if the season turns ugly in '10, ol' Willie won't be there in his asbestos suit.
** All stats taken from CFBstats.com