‘Group of Five’ countdown, No. 6: Craig Bohl, Wyoming
It’s always a dangerous thing to shrink a pool of candidates for any job by disqualifying someone based on a trait that has nothing to do with the ability to do the job, such as: “Too old. They need a younger guy.”
Mention any football coach approaching 60 and this is a common retort. But what does it actually mean? Not much.
David Beaty, 47, could smoke septuagenarian football coaches Frank Solich and Bill Snyder in a footrace. Solich turns 74 during this coming season, Snyder 79. Beaty is 0-5 coaching against them.
Today, we look at the oldest coach on the list of 10 “Group of Five” coaches ready to hit the big-time. Why is his age relevant? It’s not. If you don’t believe me, ask his 42-year-old wife.
No. 6— Craig Bohl, Wyoming
Record at school: 22-29
Overall record: 126-61
Impressive win: vs. No. 13 Boise State, 30-28, Oct. 29, 2016
Why he’s on the list: Wyoming football had not had consecutive winning seasons since having five in a row (1995-1999). Craig Bohl was hired to fix that and fix it he has done. His four records at Wyoming, in order: 4-8, 2-10, 8-6, 8-5. He has flipped the program in just four years.
He’ll have a chance to show this year that it wasn’t just because he had a quarterback, Josh Allen, taken with the seven pick of the first round of the NFL draft. (Anyone who thinks that needs to know that Wyoming ranked ninth in the nation with 17.5 points allowed). Allen competed a year in junior college and sent information and a letter to FBS programs asking for a chance. Only Eastern Michigan and Wyoming offered.
Allen was not the first stealth superstar quarterback recruited by Bohl. Carson Wentz didn’t play quarterback until senior year of high school and didn’t receive any FBS offers until Central Michigan very late in the process. He played for Bohl at in-state North Dakota State, which Bohl coached to three consecutive FCS national championships at the end of his 11 seasons at the school.
So often, schools look to go 180 degrees from a fired coach when making a new hire. It would be difficult to find a more polar opposite to David Beaty than Bohl.
Beaty is a new-age coach, Bohl old-school. Beaty was a receiver at a small school, Lindenwood, Bohl a defensive back at a national powerhouse, Nebraska. As an assistant, Beaty was always on the offensive staff, Bohl the defensive. Beaty has had trouble finding a quarterback, but passes more than he runs. Bohl finds NFL passers, but runs more than he passes. Beaty’s teams try different uniform combinations every week. Bohl ditched that approach favored by his predecessor and his teams have two uniforms: one for home games, one for road games.
Beaty’s offense, the Air Raid, is all about stretching the field, making the defense defend as much turf as possible. Bohl demands his players win the battle in the smallest space of all, the one between his players’ facemasks and the enemies’ grills.
“We’re going to have our hand in the dirt and we’re going to knock the (expletive) out of you,” was how Bohl described his team’s style of play to USA Today.
Wyoming is Bohl’s second head-coaching job; Kansas is Beaty’s first. Bohl spent nine seasons as a defensive coordinator at three different schools, the final three seasons at Nebraska, before heading a program for the first time. Beaty spent one season as an offensive coordinator at Rice.
Bohl has won three national championships, Beaty three games. You can’t find much different a pair of head coaches than Beaty and Bohl.