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
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
”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
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.