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It's official: NDSU coach Bohl to lead Wyoming
Craig Bohl looked around his North Dakota State football program and wondered what else he could accomplish with the Bison.
His program won the past two Football Championship Subdivision titles and is favored to do so again. Bohl also knew few programs fit his style of coaching and commitment demands.
Yet when the University of Wyoming called about being its next head coach, Bohl felt UW was the right fit and this was the right time to make a change.
On Sunday, Bohl was named the 32nd head coach in Wyoming football history.
“What has been done at North Dakota State, I look at it and say, ‘I don’t know if there’s more things for me that I can do with that institution,’” Bohl said. “I see great promise here and, along with that, a great fit. I’ve always appreciated the heartiness of Wyoming, and I think in this geographical area, the guys are going to fit the style of play that I appreciate as a head football coach.
“I just felt it was the right time for them to have someone else and for me to take on a new challenge.”
Bohl replaces Dave Christensen, who was fired last Sunday after five years with the Cowboys and a sub-.500 overall record.
Bohl is very familiar with the state of Wyoming and the football program. He was recruited by Wyoming as player out of Nebraska in 1976 before playing for the Cornhuskers, and his father was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne. He also brought his NDSU team to Laramie in 2008 (losing 16-13), and he said he has spent family vacations in Sheridan, in the north-central part of the state.
Most of all, Bohl said, the decision to take over the Wyoming program came down to the connection he had with UW athletics director Tom Burman in the short time they talked during the week.
“He and I had a very minimal time to talk, as I was focused on North Dakota State,” Bohl said. “But he was able to articulate to me the vision of where our football program needs to go and the resources that are going to be given to allow success. It was amazing the connection that we had and how we saw things eye-to-eye.”
Burman dealt mainly with Bohl’s representatives during the negotiating process. The AD said he sought someone with head coaching experience to turn the Cowboys around.
“He’s more of a CEO,” Burman said. “Any time you hire a coordinator who’s never been a head coach, it’s a risk. Any time you hire anyone, it’s a risk. With Coach Bohl, we reduced that risk, is the way I looked at it.”
Bohl will earn a base guaranteed salary of $750,000 the first season, with an escalating base salary each year during the five-year contract. Bohl also has additional compensation and incentives that could make the contract worth as much as $1.2 million a year if everything is reached.
Bohl will continue to coach NDSU through the rest of the FCS playoffs before taking over at Wyoming. He met with his NDSU team Sunday morning before flying to Laramie, and the team voted for him to continue as coach through the end of the season.
Bohl became emotional talking about NDSU in the press conference, stopping several times to fight back tears.
“A big reason why I am here is an exceptionally remarkable group of men that are at North Dakota State,” he said. “I want to say thanks to our players back there and say thanks to (NDSU athletics director) Gene Taylor for hiring a guy who had never been a head coach before and taking a chance on me.”
Bohl inherits a team that went 27-35 the past five years, including two trips to the New Mexico Bowl.
Several players attended Sunday’s press conference, including the lone returning team captain, senior quarterback Brett Smith. Smith left the press conference due to a study issue for finals, which start today, and did not talk to the media.
Junior cornerback Blair Burns said he was excited about the future with the Bohl hiring.
“We’re going to be under a new program and definitely a new head coach,” Burns said. “I think the guys are excited and waiting to get on the field and get a feel for what he’s all about. We’ll get a great feel when we come back in January. I think the guys can’t wait for that.”
Wyoming hasn’t been consistently competitive within its conference since the mid- to late-1990s.
Bohl said he believes he can turn that trend around, as he did with NDSU.
“NDSU was 2-8 the year before I got there,” Bohl said. “That was a tall mountain to climb. But what was true there that’s true here is a rich tradition about Bison football that went back a long way. We just had to rekindle that. You look out there (at War Memorial Stadium) and you see those bowl banners n it’s here. We just need to rekindle it.”
By Scott Nulph, Wyoming Tribune Eagle