What new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo brings to Auburn football
Bryan Harsin and Mike Bobo have never worked together, but they have been familiar with each other for awhile.
Bobo, before returning to the SEC as South Carolina's offensive coordinator last season, spent five years as head coach at Colorado State, which plays in the Mountain West. So he coached against Harsin's Boise State teams five times.
The Broncos won all of those games. Clearly, though, Harsin saw something he liked – Auburn's first-year coach hired Bobo to serve as his offensive coordinator Thursday.
"I've wanted to work with Mike now for quite some time as he complements the many things we want to do with our offense," Harsin said in a statement. "I'm really excited to combine forces with Mike as we create the Auburn offense – a high-powered, attacking and physical unit that will come at you in many ways."
Here's a look at what Bobo brings:
Experience leading explosive SEC offenses
South Carolina's offense ranked 10th in the SEC in both points per game (23.5) and yards per play (5.6) during Bobo's lone season in Columbia, but that was for a team whose head coach was fired after seven games. And both were improvements from the year before.
The bulk of Bobo's 16 seasons in the SEC were spent at his alma mater, Georgia, where he played quarterback from 1994-97, coached quarterbacks from 2001-06 and served as Mark Richt's offensive coordinator from 2007-14. And he found plenty of success doing the latter.
The Bulldogs put together top-five scoring offenses in the SEC every season from 2010-14, averaging at least 31 points in all of them. They led the conference and ranked eighth nationally scoring 41.3 points per game in 2014.
Among the skill players who became stars playing in those offenses: Running backs Isaiah Crowell, Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb, and wide receiver A.J. Green.
Proven track record of success with quarterbacks
That's an impressive list of skill talent – most went on to star in the NFL – but Bobo's biggest claim to fame is his work with quarterbacks.
He coached some very good ones at Georgia, including David Greene, D.J. Shockley, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Murray. And while Stafford went on to have by far the best pro career of the bunch after passing for 3,459 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2008, it was Murray who was the arm behind Bobo's best stretch at Georgia.
The Tampa, Florida, native, started all four years for the Bulldogs from 2010-2013, passing for at least 3,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in each of them.
Bobo also groomed a 3,000-yard passer at Colorado State in Nick Stevens, who threw for 3,799 yards, 29 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in 2017. The Rams struggled overall during Bobo's tenure (28-38 from 2015-19) but did rank top-20 nationally in passing offense during each of his final three seasons at the helm.
Maybe the combination of Bobo and Harsin – who also has a strong track record with quarterbacks – will be able to get the most out of two-year Auburn starter Bo Nix, a former five-star recruit who did not take the expected leap forward in 2020 after being named SEC Freshman of the Year in 2019.
Plenty of recruiting ties
Harsin has a stated goal of expanding Auburn's recruiting footprint west to the areas where he found talent at Boise State's coach. Bobo, after five years in Fort Collins, should have connections that will help in that endeavor.
But he also has plenty of ties that will help Harsin compete for talent in Auburn's backyard. Bobo is from Thomasville, Georgia, played and coached for the Bulldogs and Gamecocks and also spent one season as quarterbacks coach at Jacksonville State in 2000, so he knows the territory.
The former four- and five-stars he's listed as being the primary or secondary recruiter for, per the 247Sports database, includes Stafford, Murray, Chubb, running back Sony Michel, wide receivers Terry Godwin, Mohamed Massaquoi and Isaiah McKenzie, and linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons, among many others.
Bobo was also instrumental in South Carolina securing the commitment from five-star Tiger, Georgia, quarterback Gunner Stockton, the No. 1-ranked dual-threat prospect in the 2022 class. That will be a name for Auburn fans to watch over the next 11 months.
"I'm excited to get started and look forward to helping Coach Harsin compete for championships," Bobo said.
Josh Vitale is the Auburn beat writer for the Montgomery Advertiser. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshVitale. To reach him by email, click here.