Bobo thrown into the playcalling fire

Mike Bobo

ATHENS – Mike Bobo may seem young to be an offensive coordinator in the Southeastern Conference, but Georgia's newly promoted coach learned a long time ago the responsibility that comes with his new job.

His father George was promoted from offensive line coach to head coach at Thomasville High School the same year Mike entered his junior season and became the team's starting quarterback.

"We used to run the wishbone and then we went to throwing it when I became a junior," Mike Bobo said. "They said, ‘You're only throwing it because of your son,' and some of that might be true because I couldn't run the option."

The lesson Bobo learned that day carried him threw an up-and-down career as Georgia's quarterback and will serve him well in his new job. Whether you're picking the players,running the plays, or is now the case for Bobo, calling the plays, you wear a target.

"That's part of it," he said.

It's a part of the job Georgia coach Mark Richt has stressed to Bobo since he gave him play-calling responsibilities prior to the Nov. 25 game against Georgia Tech. Richt called plays at either Florida State or Georgia for 14 years prior to giving the responsibility to Bobo.

"Whoever calls the plays is going to catch grief," he said.

Richt still chuckles when he sees Florida State fans who profess to long for the days when he was calling the Seminoles' plays.

"I'll say how did you feel after that Oklahoma game?" he said. "Were you kind of glad I was gone? Just tell the truth. They're like, ‘Oh no, coach,' and then some of them will be like, ‘Yeah, OK.'"

The Seminoles didn't score an offensive point in Richt's final game as their play-caller. It was eight days after he had been announced as the next head coach at Georgia and Oklahoma beat Florida State 13-2 in the Orange Bowl for the national title.

The part that amuses Richt the most is it's not just the unsuccessful game plans that are critiqued. It's every game, every drive, seemingly every play, no matter how successful.

"I'll never forget we played Clemson one time, and we probably had 300 yards of offense (in the first half), but the problem was there was only 1 yard that happened to be rushing, and I think we were up 28-0 at that point," Richt said. "We were on the way up to the press box after halftime and some guy just laid into me. He said, ‘You guys will never win big until you get your running game going.' I said, ‘Well, I'll tell you what, if you get Reggie Herring to quit blitzing every down and quit playing single coverage every down, then I'll start running the ball. Until then, we're going to keep chunking it.'" The rub for Richt is this: the pressures of the job don't make it easy to surrender.

"I knew the minute I said, ‘Mike I want you to call this Tech game,' it was probably the last time I was going to call a game for a while, in a long while," he said ruefully. "You do something 15 years and you really enjoy it. It's an exciting part of the game, but it's just a lot easier to do when that's all you do."

Former Georgia coach and athletic director doesn't expect Richt to quit cold turkey. Dooley was very involved in play-calling for his first five seasons as a head coach, and then he pulled back. He never did entirely give up control, though.

"I didn't call all the plays, but when I wanted to call one, I called it and when I wanted to do something, I wanted it done," Dooley said. "I'm sure there will times (Richt) wants something done his way, he wants a play called. Every play is important, but there are some that are really important."

For fans, every bad one is certainly important, and they don't mind letting the person responsible know about it.

"I've been around football my entire life. I know how it is," Bobo said. "As long as those guys in that (coaching) room know what's going on and my family, I'll be fine."

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