Craig Bohl leaving North Dakota State for head coaching job at Wyoming
Will continue to coach undefeated Bison through FCS playoffs
LARAMIE, Wyo. -- 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.
|2003||North Dakota State||8-3-0|
|2004||North Dakota State||8-3-0|
|2005||North Dakota State||7-4-0|
|2006||North Dakota State||10-1-0|
|2007||North Dakota State||10-1-0|
|2008||North Dakota State||6-5-0|
|2009||North Dakota State||3-8-0|
|2010||North Dakota State||9-5-0|
|2011||North Dakota State||14-1-0|
|2012||North Dakota State||14-1-0|
|2013||North Dakota State||12-0-0 *|
|* Record through Dec. 7|
|Bold denotes FCS national champion.|
''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.
When Bohl will be paid a base salary of $750,000 a year at the start at Wyoming 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 comes to Wyoming after 11 years at North Dakota State, where he has won the past 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.
''Quite frankly, guys, I knew this day was coming,'' North Dakota State athletic director Gene Taylor said. ''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.''
Taylor said he made no effort to keep Bohl ''with those kinds of dollars'' he's getting at Wyoming.
Taylor said the players support the decision for Bohl to finish the season with NDSU. He said Wyoming has no problem with Bohl sticking around, which raised the question about why the Cowboys didn't wait with their announcement.
''Obviously they needed to get the name in place and get somebody hired,'' Taylor said. ''I don't know why they didn't wait, but the way coaching searches go, they wanted to know if Craig was in or out I'm sure; if not, they probably needed to move on to the next candidate.''
Bohl said ''there is no perfect time'' for a coaching change.
''They're not easy times,'' Bohl said. ''North Dakota State is a very, very special place in my heart. There's been 11 years that I invested here.''
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 athletics. He is the winningest football coach at the school.
A native of Lincoln, Neb., Bohl was a reserve in the Cornhuskers 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 NDSU finished second in the Division II ranks with a 12-1 record. Bohl went on to coach at the Division I level for 18 seasons, including stops at five different universities. Before he took over the head coaching job at NDSU, 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.
Taylor said the fan base is upset about Bohl's departure ''because they care and they like him and nobody likes to see change.''
Bohl said fans should trust Taylor's leadership to put a new coach staff in place. The athletic director said he has not set a timetable to name a new coach, but said it could happen at any time. He said there are some current assistants who deserve consideration, but wasn't specific.
''Head coaches can come and go, but this institution and the program here stays,'' Bohl said on his Sunday show. ''NDSU is not about one person.''