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 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 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 that quiet."
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.