COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - When Mike Bobo was brought on to the South Carolina coaching staff, the last thing he ever thought he’d do was fill in as an interim head coach.
But Monday, the former Colorado State head coach now finds himself leading a team and filling in for his friend who hired him.
“It was a tough time yesterday,” said Bobo, who was named the Gamecocks' interim head coach Sunday. “It was like I told the team last night after Coach talked to them. We lost our coach, we lost our leader, and a lot of us coaches lost a friend and a father figure to a lot of those players. So, it was a tough day yesterday. It’ll be a tough time going forward.”
The decision for the Gamecocks to part ways with former head coach Will Muschamp happened one day after the team’s 59-42 loss to Ole Miss. In the last three weeks, the Gamecocks had given up 159 total points to their opponents.
Athletics Director Ray Tanner said the decision to let Muschamp go was made on Sunday after speaking with UofSC President Bob Caslen.
“It wasn’t an easy conversation because you always hear life is personal,” said Tanner. “It is and, despite the circumstances, you have to deal with the position that you’re in. It was very honest and candid between us. It’s about more than football. When you get down to it, the decision was made because of wins. It wasn’t because of his character or the culture or anything. It was about the bottom line and that makes it hard. Makes it very, very difficult.”
Bobo said he felt as if part of the blame for Muschamp losing his position with the team rested on his shoulders.
“When the news came down, my initial transparent honesty is that I felt like I let Coach Muschamp down,” Bobo said. “I didn’t get the job that needed to get done on offense to help us win enough games. So, that’s what upset me. At the same time, I was asked to do a job. I told the team last night the result was not what we wanted last week at all, but those kids fought their tails off and, if I saw any quit or any culture problems on this football team, I would not want to be part of this.”
Players were notified on Sunday about the decision. For guys like senior defensive lineman Jabari Ellis, finding out about the decision to let Muschamp go was tough, but the team has a job to do.
“It hurt,” he said, “but it’s life. It is what it is. We’re focused on the next three games, trying to turn it around, and get a win.”
Bobo, who served as the team’s offensive coordinator, said he will still call plays on the offense. However, he’s going to take a look at all phases to determine what changes need to be made.
“I’m going to look at everything,” Bobo said, "and again, it goes to what gives us the best chance to win the ball game this coming Saturday against Missouri. So, we’re going to do whatever we feel gives us the best chance to win that game.
With Bobo now in position to lead the Gamecocks in the team’s final three games of the season, he hopes to help the team rally and come away with positive results. While those positive results could possibly earn him the opportunity to be the head coach for the program in a full-time capacity, Bobo emphasized that’s not his focus.
“It’s not about me,” said Bobo. “And Coach [Tanner] kind of mentioned it. It’s about us. It’s about we. It’s about everybody. We all have individual goals and aspirations, but to be honest, it’s not about that. It’s about these players. It’s about doing our job as the adult, as the leader, as the coach. It’s about how you respond to adversity. You’ve got to get up and you’ve got to go to work.”
That work begins today as South Carolina prepares for a home game against Missouri on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.