Mesa offensive coordinator O’Boyle headed to Southern Illinois

Colorado Mesa University football offensive coordinator Bill O’Boyle stepped into Todd Auer’s office Tuesday, shook his hand and left without saying a word. It was too difficult.

O’Boyle, who coached with Auer for 18 years, resigned to become an offensive-line coach and running-game coordinator with Football Championship Series program Southern Illinois University.

“That’s the toughest thing about this deal,” O’Boyle said of parting with Auer, the Mavs’ defensive coordinator. “We’ve been together all but four years since ‘83. This might open the doors for us to get back together, but that’s the toughest thing.”

O’Boyle isn’t taking the job to necessarily increase his opportunity to become a head coach again, but to coach at the next level.

“I’ve known the head coach for quite a while,” O’Boyle said. “I had a chance to go with him when I was at Chadron. If a third time comes around, he would probably not call again.”

O’Boyle’s decision was tough for Auer to accept, but he understood.

“I’m happy for him,” Auer said. “It’s a great opportunity. Of course, I hate to see him go. I think it will be a lot different, not just the every-day aspect, but for games and traveling.

“I know it’s hard for him, too, but it’s part of the business.”

Auer has known O’Boyle for 30 years, going back to when the two played at Western Illinois University. They coached together at Chadron State (Neb.) College from 1994 to 2011.

“Our fishing and hunting buddy in Chadron was a railroad guy,” Auer said. “Because of our odd hours, we could take off during the day and go fish. We did a lot of stuff outside football. We became good friends. We did a lot of the same things together.”

CMU head coach Russ Martin was saddened by O’Boyle’s resignation, but he understood.

“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Martin said. “We’ll definitely miss him. I will personally be forever indebted to him. He’s a great guy to be around.

“He was the guy I wanted my son to learn under when he was doing his grad assistant (coaching). That, to me, is truthfully as good of a compliment you can give a coach.”

O’Boyle brought a no-nonsense work ethic to CMU’s program, demanding the best out of the offensive line.

“He raised the intensity,” Martin said. “It didn’t matter if it was on the football field or the weight room, he immediately raised the intensity when he walked on campus.”

Although the players didn’t warm up to his style immediately, they soon respected it.

“I know what’s going to happen (at CMU),” O’Boyle said. “I saw how the kids responded. That place is a D2 gold mine. There’s no reason it can’t take off. I have a lot of respect for (former coach) Joe (Ramunno) and what he did. Russ will continue that.”

O’Boyle told Martin about his new job a couple of weeks ago, and Martin has found a replacement: Mike Chavez.

“He has been out of coaching the last few years, working in private industry, but he is an outstanding offensive-line coach,” Martin said. “He is a great motivator and teacher.”

Chavez coached with Martin at Black Hills State (S.D.) University from 1995 to 2000 and Southeast Missouri State University until 2004. Chavez will coach the offensive line. Martin will take over more of the offensive-coordinator duties.

“Two of the guys he coached (at Southeast Missouri State) are playing in the NFL,” Martin said, “Dan Connolly, who starts at right guard for the New England Patriots and Eugene Amano, who starts at guard and center at times for the Tennessee Titans.”

Chavez is finalizing arrangements to get to Grand Junction, but Martin expects him to be on campus by the weekend, possibly Thursday when the Mavericks begin spring practice. The spring game is slated for April 13 at a time to be announced.

Martin is moving some of his staff around with the loss of O’Boyle and Phil Johnston, who resigned in January to join Shawn Marsh’s staff at Central High School.

Auer will remain the defensive coordinator, but he will coach more linebackers than defensive line in practice.

Seth Damron will move from tight ends to defensive line. Ben Martin will move from linebackers to running backs, and Jeff Wilkerson is moving from defensive line to wide receivers. Donnie Holmes moves from wide receivers to tight ends.

“They are all very good coaches,” Martin said. “I want to help some of our young guys out to experience both sides of the ball, so it will help them understand the game even better.

“I think you’ll see a smooth transition.”

Martin’s influence will be more visible next season, but he plans to keep some of the power running game O’Boyle brought to Mesa.

“The offense will have a little more pure option and a variety of read option, but there is a lot of stuff we will implement from the power game,” Martin said.

Four players either will not participate or will be limited in practice this spring because of injuries, DJ Hubbard (ankle), Taylor Schultz (ankle), Teddy Silano (shoulder) and Andrew Hurley (knee).

Wide receiver and kicker Alex Zemezonak left the team.


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