Back by overwhelming demand, FootballScoop will once again examine the assistant coaching hires that will have the biggest impact on the college football season and the coaching job market in the 2020 season and beyond.
No. 20: Zach Arnett, Mississippi State
No. 19: Larry Fedora, Baylor
No. 18: Justin Hamilton, Virginia Tech
No. 17: Sean Gleeson, Rutgers
No. 16: Adam Fuller, Florida State
No. 15: Matt Lubick, Nebraska
Who: Mike Bobo, South Carolina
Title: Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Previous stop: Colorado State head coach (2015-19)
Why he’s important: Yesterday we wrote about how Scott Frost turned to a familiar face at a critical juncture. Will Muschamp has done the same.
Following a 4-8 season in 2019, Muschamp demoted Bryan McClendon (he later left for Oregon) and hired Bobo less than a week after his dismissal at Colorado State.
The old teammates (the pair overlapped on Georgia’s 1993-94 teams; Bobo played quarterback, Muschamp was a safety) have never worked together. Muschamp worked largely in the divisional ranks before joining the Nick Saban coaching tree, while Bobo spent all but one year at Georgia before taking the Colorado State job. (Bobo coached ‘Cocks wide receivers coach Joe Cox and running backs coach Thomas Brown while at Georgia; Brown has since left for the LA Rams.)
Unshackled from the demands of being a head coach, Bobo is saying all the stuff guys say when they actually get to coach again.
“I’m excited to get back on the grass, I’m excited about being in a room, and having a position to myself, and really building a relationship with some individuals in the quarterback room,” Bobo back in December. “I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to not have to walk out of that meeting room and grab that phone and the head coach call you get all the time, and go out and answer a bunch of stuff, I’m excited about going out and coaching football, and recruiting and building a relationship with these players.”
“As far as scheme, I don’t know that identity yet,” Bobo said in March, after South Carolina’s fifth of five spring practices. “It’s too early to tell.”
Among the changes Bobo will bring to Columbia is… more snaps under center.
“I think your play-action is better under center, number one. The gun play-action nowadays is really RPOs,” Bobo told the Charleston Post & Courier in April. “You’re able to attack, really, both sides of the line of scrimmage. Sometimes in the gun, it’s a little harder.”
The change is one quarterback Ryan Hilinski embraces. The California arrived in Columbia expecting to back up senior Jake Bentley; instead, he found himself throwing 406 passes and playing Carolina’s final six games on a bum knee. Hilinski finished last in the SEC among all qualifiers in yards per attempt (5.8) and 11th of 12 in passing efficiency (113.37).
To be clear, Carolina won’t exclusively operate under center. The goal is for the offense to run the same stuff both from under center and in the shotgun while showing an added dimension that the defense must prepare for.
And South Carolina could use a second, third, fourth and even a fifth dimension.
As a unit, the Gamecocks finished 13th in the SEC in yards per play and 12th in scoring. Leading receiver Bryan Edwards is gone to graduation, as are the Gamecocks’ top three running backs. Sophomore Deshaun Fenwick leads all returning running backs; he has 22 career carries. (Incoming freshman MarShawn Lloyd is expected to carry a heavy load this fall, as are four incoming receivers and tight ends.) South Carolina returns eight linemen with starting experience
As if that news isn’t good enough, the schedule is brutal once again. South Carolina faces six of the top 20 in ESPN’s FPI: No. 19 Tennessee, No. 12 LSU, No. 11 Florida, No. 10 Georgia, No. 8 Texas A&M and, of course, No. 1 Clemson.
After five years as a head coach, Bobo jumped at the opportunity to roll his sleeves up, hop in the trenches and coach again. And he picked a heckuva trench to climb into.