No question in his mind, Bo Wallace has found his life calling. Football coach. And more specifically, an offensive football coach who loves the chess match within the game.
“Coaching is my competitive fix,” said Bo, the former Ole Miss quarterback who led the Rebels to three straight bowl games (2012-14) and set numerous school records along the way without ever missing a start.
“Sitting down, studying defenses, figuring ways to manipulate them … that’s the most fun for me. Right now on my computer, I have the 2019 offensive seasons from Alabama, Clemson, Ole Miss, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State. Always looking for something new to add to my offense.
“Defensive coordinators have done a good job adjusting to the spread, so now it’s up to offensive coordinators to find more ways to attack. If I had to say one way teams are doing that is by running a lot of bunch (receiver) sets. Those can cause a lot of confusion.”
Bo was recently named co-offensive coordinator at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville. He spent the 2020 season in the same role at Coahoma Community College where he helped lead the team to a 3-2 record — matching the number of wins the program had enjoyed in the previous three seasons combined.
Bo said one interview with Peal River head coach Seth Smith — not to be confused with the Seth Smith who played baseball at Ole Miss and in the Major Leagues — convinced him to make the move.
“I’ve said when people have asked me that Coach Smith has a high energy level, and that’s the way I am and what I relate to,” he said. “He’s going to win here. This school has a lot of tradition, and that’s another thing that drew me to it.”
Remember, Bo helped lead East Mississippi CC to a national championship in 2011. He knows the league inside and out.
“We played at Pearl River that year,” he said “I think I threw five or six touchdowns, but I also had two or three turnovers.”
Pearl River went 2-4 in 2020, Smith’s first season.
“He’s building the culture here and that doesn’t happen overnight,” Bo said. “They ran the ball for over 200 yards per game. I think one of the reasons he called me was to help tie the passing game with the running game.”
We all know the effects of Covid in 2020. The virus has killed thousands. Ravaged families. It’s changed the way we live everyday life.
“I love football more than anybody I know,” Bo said. “I wish we played it 12 months a year. But if I didn’t admit that I was glad when the 2020 season ended, I’d be lying.
“We lost players to injuries, which is normal. But then we would have guys test positive for Covid during the week, and suddenly you didn’t have players that you had built your game plan around.
“College football is stressful enough. Add Covid to the mix, and it was awful. The atmosphere with just a few fans in the stands wasn’t good. We had to create atmosphere, create juice anyway we could. Play loud music in the dressing room before games. Anything to try and get them going.
“Hopefully, a vaccine will be here soon and we can have spring workouts and an off-season program and get back to a normal season in 2021.”
I asked Bo to weigh in on his alma mater’s 2020 season. The Rebels are 4-4 with a game Saturday afternoon at LSU and in all probability a bowl game to end the year.
“The excitement Lane Kiffin has brought to that program has made the Ole Miss brand exciting again,” he said. “Ole Miss has done a great job of playing off who he is — I mean, the guy is a huge national name coach — and kids pay attention to that stuff. They have instant access to all his tweets, they see what other prospects are saying about Ole Miss. Kids watch all that. They see Ole Miss trending upward. They see Kiffin as a fun guy to play for.
“I know he wishes he could’ve won a couple more games already, but this team reminds me of our 2012 team. Nobody expected much, but we went 7-6 and to a bowl game. That got fans excited again.”
What is his opinion of sophomore quarterback Matt Corral, who leads an offense that puts up an SEC-best 563 yards per game. Corral has thrown for 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
“He’s got some of the best arm talent in the country, Bo says. “Last year to start the season, I thought there was way too much pressure put on him. They basically wanted him to be the face of the program and hadn’t played much yet. He wound up sitting (when John Rhys Plumlee won the starting job), and I’ll bet he would tell you that was one of the best things that ever happened to him. It probably lit a fire under him.”
I ended our conversation with two more questions:
What hasn’t changed about football in the past 10 seasons?
“The game still starts up front with the offensive and defensive linemen,” he said. “It’s always going to be that way. That’s what football is all about.”
Who will win the national championship?
“I’m picking Alabama until somebody shows me otherwise.”