FORT COLLINS — Colorado State football coach Mike Bobo sent a mass text message to his staff recently in response to a series of events that required immediate and seemingly endless action.
“It’s about to be a two-week grind,” Bobo wrote. “Don’t plan on sleeping. It’s going to be nonstop.”
The Rams will face Marshall at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl, and if game prep wasn’t enough work, CSU is in full-throttle recruiting mode ahead of the Dec. 20 early signing period. Not only searching for players, but also the need to replace three assistant coaches. For Bobo, one task in particular is arguably of greatest importance for the future of his program: Hiring a defensive coordinator.
With Marty English set to retire after the bowl, and with much of Bobo’s focus on the offensive game plan as the Rams’ play caller, it creates the need for a replacement who is, “very confident, somebody that I trust and can handle that room when I’m not in it,” Bobo said. Then, he laid out three specific criteria for the right candidate.
1. Extremely competitive any time of the day.
2. Experience based in a 3-4 scheme, but with the ability to adjust to multiple fronts.
3. Maximize the tools on the roster.
“There are a lot of people out there that I know in this business that are good coaches, have been at good places and done a lot of great things,” Bobo said. “But I’ve got to find the right fit for this football team and this program.”
As of late Monday, Bobo added he’s spoken to at least “half a dozen” candidates for the position. According to a FootballScoop.com report, the list included former Florida State defensive coordinator Charles Kelly, who had served under now former Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher since 2014. Kelly’s success recruiting blue-chip talent to Tallahassee (FSU’s defense started five former five-star recruits last fall) likely inspires hope for similar carryover to Fort Collins, albeit on a smaller scale.
However, Bobo is far from making a final choice, and doesn’t want to make a “hasty decision.” But the unique timing of his search with the need to retain and sign commits by Dec. 20 is enough to deprive sleep.
“I’m not in a rush,” Bobo said, and then pivoted, “but I am.”
If the process is taking a toll on the coaching staffs’ mental and physical well-being, CSU senior center Jake Bennet certainly can’t tell.
“They’re all Red Bull guys,” Bennett said. “During the week from Monday to Wednesday, they’re here from 5:30 or 6 in the morning until midnight. … I think coach (Bobo) is doing an awesome job being undermanned. He’s kind of being everywhere at once and he’s not letting it show that he might be breaking down a little bit, because he’s definitely hustling.”
The grind eventually takes its toll, though, especially when it comes to balancing family life.
“I’m about to wear myself down, my wife’s getting on to me,” Bobo said. “I’ll make it.”
College football coaches are well aware of the lifestyle they signed up for when taking the job. It’s why Bobo doesn’t mind the lack of sleep, or the heavy bags under the eyes of his remaining assistant coaches this time of year.
“There will be a break at some point after that signing date where we get to spend some time with family and play Santa Clause, but this isn’t it right now,” Bobo said. “The more games we win, the bigger paycheck they get, and the nicer Santa can be. That’s the way I look at it.”