Craig Bohl takes over as coach at Wyoming

Craig Bohl isn’t leaving behind the cold and snow in taking over

the Wyoming football program after 11 years at North Dakota State.

He is moving up a level in the college football hierarchy and likes

the idea of undertaking a new coaching challenge.

”I’ve always admired Wyoming football,” Bohl said. ”…I knew

also that there’s a certain number of jobs that I’m going to be the

right fit for. I’m a hard-nosed Midwest guy and, when I look at

Cowboy football, that’s what I would think the trademark would be.

And so it just seemed like the right fit.”

Bohl was introduced Sunday as Wyoming’s coach to media and fans

while inside a stadium suite overlooking snow-covered Jonah Field

at War Memorial Stadium, where the temperature was 5 degrees with a

16 below wind chill – nearly identical to the conditions at the

time in Fargo, N.D.

”It’s going to be a great ride, folks, and strap it on because

you’re going to like what you see,” he vowed.

Bohl comes to Wyoming after 11 years at North Dakota State,

where he has won the late two Football Championship Subdivision

titles and is in the process of seeking a third.

Bohl will remain North Dakota State’s coach through the end of

its playoff run.

When Bohl takes over at Wyoming, he will be paid a base salary

of $750,000 a year at the start with the opportunity to earn up to

$1.2 million with incentives. His contract is for five years.

He replaces Dave Christensen, who was fired Dec. 1 after five

seasons.

Bohl said it’s bittersweet leaving North Dakota State and he

choked up twice during his introductory speech when he talked about

his Bison players and the administration.

But he said it’s time for him to move on to another challenge

and opportunity.

”I think there comes a time in a coach’s life where you look

and say OK when is mission accomplished and when is there somebody

else who can lead this program into a higher level than where I’m

at,” he said.

Bohl has a 101-32 record with the Bison, including a 10-1 mark

in the FCS playoffs and 9-3 showing against Football Bowl

Subdivision teams. The Bison knocked off Kansas State this season

in what many considered the landmark regular-season victory since

the school moved up from NCAA Division II to Division I. He is the

winningest football coach at the school.

The Bison have advanced to the quarterfinals in their bid for a

third national title, and Bohl said he expects the team to perform

no differently despite him leaving for Wyoming.

”I know this – that football team in Fargo is an unbelievably

focused, resilient, driven, cohesive unit, and they play that

way,” he said.

Bohl said most of his staff will follow him to Wyoming.

North Dakota State athletic director Gene Taylor said Bohl told

him he accepted the Wyoming offer after Saturday’s 38-7 victory

over Furman in a second-round game at the Fargodome.

”Quite frankly, guys, I knew this day was coming,” Taylor told

media in Fargo on Sunday. ”I know a lot of people are questioning

the timing of it. There’s never a good time. But when you look at

obviously the dollars that they are going to commit to him and his

assistant coaches, whoever those may be … It’s a step up.”

Wyoming athletic director Tom Burman said the decision to

announce the hiring was made while North Dakota State was still in

the playoffs because ”in this day and age there’s no way to keep

that quiet.”

Taylor said he made no effort to keep Bohl ”with those kinds of

dollars” he’s getting at Wyoming.

A native of Lincoln, Neb., Bohl was a reserve in Nebraska’s

secondary from 1977-79 under Tom Osborne and played on the 1979

Orange Bowl and 1980 Cotton Bowl teams. He holds a bachelor’s

degree in business administration from Nebraska.

Bohl’s first full-time coaching position was as the defensive

secondary coach for the Bison in 1984, when North Dakota State

finished second in NCAA Division II ranks with a 12-1 record. Bohl

went on to coach at the Division I level for 18 seasons, making

stops at five universities. Before he took over the head coaching

job at North Dakota State, he worked at Nebraska for eight years,

the last three as defensive coordinator.

Last season, Bohl received the Eddie Robinson Award as the FCS

coach of the year.

Associated Press writer Dave Kolpack in Fargo, N.D., contributed

to this report.