After Mike Bobo guided Georgia’s offense to record-breaking numbers last season, the Bulldogs offered him a multi-year contract and a raise. But for him that wasn’t a requirement to stick around.
The new deal, unveiled March 6, rewarded Bobo a 71 percent raise (to $575,000 per year) in a contract that is guaranteed for three years. But the Bulldogs adjourned for spring break shortly thereafter, and Bobo talked with reporters for the first time Tuesday.
“There’s no question to have security in this business is always something to feel good about,” Bobo said. “But at the same time I have a job to do this year. I’m not going to say, ‘hey, we’re set and good to go.’ I’m worried about getting better today at practice and then the next day. So my mindset hasn’t changed with anything.”
Bobo is somewhat unusual in the vagabond profession that sometimes can be college coaching. A Georgia player and graduate, he has spent one year of his professional life away from Athens. He and his wife, Lainie, have five kids and live in neighboring Oconee County.
In a word, he is content.
“Coach Richt says it every year: Apply enthusiasm to the job you have,” Bobo said. “And that’s all I really try to do. If something comes up I’m interested in, I’ll look at it. But if I’m not I won’t. That’s really my personal business between me and my family. Other than that my job is to get Georgia ready to go the best I can.”
Bobo reportedly was offered the offensive coordinator’s job at Virginia Tech last year. He would neither confirm nor deny those reports. The reality is he has been approached about numerous other opportunities in his 12 years with the Bulldogs. He just hasn’t been interested.
“There’s always people calling with feelers, but that’s just part of the business,” Bobo said. “I didn’t really like that (the Virginia Tech report) got out there on that deal either.”
With the pay increase, Bobo went from the bottom one-third of the SEC to the top one-third for offensive coordinators. But while it’s nice to be appreciated, Bobo said he knows it doesn’t really change anything.
“There’s going to be critics this year the first time we punt,” he said with a laugh. “That’s part of it. I’m just worried about the guys in my room and how the guys on the offense respond to us as coaches and play for us and the University of Georgia as a team.”
Thornton, Bailey impress: Mike Thornton’s career has been quiet since he came to Georgia as a highly touted prospect. But he got a fresh start with the arrival of a new position coach this year, and defensive line coach Chris Wilson likes what he’s seeing.
“Mike Thornton has been a pleasant surprise,” said Wilson, who is working Thornton at both nose guard and end. “Obviously he’s an older guy who hasn’t made a lot of plays on tape, but he’s playing really well. … He’s earning himself a chance to be a contributor on our team. I like the direction he’s going in.”
The 6-foot-1, 302-pound Thornton is smaller than most of his predecessors on the defensive line, especially 360-pound nose guards John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. But Wilson said that doesn’t mean Thornton can’t compete in the SEC.
“We’re an attacking-style defense,” Wilson said. “That’s what coach (Todd) Grantham brings to this deal.”
Thornton is not the only reserve player making an impression on Wilson. He also singled out sophomore end Sterling Bailey.
“The guy has been really standing out,” Wilson said. “I’ve really been impressed with the progress he’s made.”
Practice update: The Bulldogs held a long practice in full pads on the first day on the field after spring break. The workout culminated with a scored scrimmage, but not in the traditional sense. Coach Mark Richt awarded one point when either the offense or the defense won a drill, at his discretion.
“Both sides of the ball competed hard today, and the offense ended up winning 4-2,” Richt said. “I thought it was an overall good day today. This was the first time we tackled out there, so it was nice to get some contact going.”
Injury report: Georgia tailback Keith Marshall was back in action Tuesday as the Bulldogs resumed spring practice. He missed the first week of spring practice with a pulled hamstring suffered while running track. But after a week off for spring break, Marshall was able to perform without any obvious limitations. Fellow tailback Brandon Harton (knee) also was back at work after sitting out the first week. … Quarterback Hutson Mason and tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith sat out Tuesday with illnesses.
Etc.: Two groups of Georgia football players took trips abroad as Christian missionaries last week. Brothers John and Nathan Theus and fellow offensive lineman Preston Mobley joined a group that went to Haiti. At the same time, Michael Bennett, Connor Norman and Lucas Redd and Mason were among a group that went to the Dominican Republic.