Travis Hobson made his mind up months ago. Before the 2020 season kicked off, the Century head football coach had his assistants over at his house and informed them he was probably going to step down at the end of the season.
Then the Diamondbacks overachieved. They went 7-4, advanced to the state semifinals and embraced their underdog identity to the very end. Their practices were fun. Their games were fun. In a COVID-altered season, Century showed its coach how enjoyable the job could be.
“After that good season, the good times and all the fun stuff we had, it was very hard to walk away. I had to weigh the options, weight the facts objectively,” Hobson said. “Reason No. 1, and I’m going to steal a line from a friend, you get a lot out of football but you also have to give a lot to football.
“I’m looking my own son and my own daughter and my wife and I realize I’ve been a pretty crappy dad and I’d like to improve upon that part of my life. I want to go spend more time raising my own two children instead of helping raise 120 other people’s children every year. I’m proud to be the coach of two rather than the coach of 120.”
Hobson submitted his letter of resignation a few weeks ago but waited to tell his team and their parents the news. Despite resigning as football coach, Hobson will stay at Century as a teacher, head golf coach and assistant basketball coach. At least, that’s the plan for now.
Hobson has long had the goal to become an administrator, and has the credentials for the role. He was a candidate for Century’s open athletic director position last year, but waiting around for administrative jobs to open up in Pocatello could be a long haul. So he’s keeping his options open.
“I might have to look elsewhere,” he said. “But I don’t have to leave Century – and I like it here.”
In saying that, though, Hobson admitted he would not leave Century for just another football coaching job. Those offers have come, he said, and he’s shut down the prospects at every turn.
That interest arose isn’t shocking.
Hobson coached Shelley to three 3A state titles before accepting the Century job in 2015. Over the last half-dozen seasons, the 41-year old led the Diamondbacks to a 35-28 record, including a 5-5 record in the state playoffs.
The Diamondbacks, under first-year athletic director Mark Pixton, will now seek out candidates for the next man to lead their football program.
“He brought us the letter last week and decided he wanted to spend some more time with his family, is what he told me,” Pixton said. “I posted the job yesterday. We’ll let it cook until after spring break, then we’ll put together a committee and interview.
“We want to take our time and find the right candidate. We’ll start the process in the first part of April.”
Departure sparks nostalgia, and Hobson has no problem reminiscing on the good times. He may not have won a state championship at Century, but the smaller joys and successes never faded. The examples, to him, weren’t tough to find. He broke out his coaching clichés as he listed themes: turning men to boys, getting them bigger in the weight room, shaping knuckleheads into great citizens, teaches kids the right values, etc.
When he took the Diamondbacks job six years ago, one of the main points he reiterated throughout all those early media appearances was his hope that Century could be the “Stanford of Idaho football.”
“I think young men coming to the Century football program know they’re going to have to go to class, to go to work and that they’re going to have to do things right,” Hobson said. “We’re going win a lot of games and we’re going to take our lumps once in a while, but we’re going to work through it all and that’s kind of the point.”
That message is nothing too grand. Lots of programs aspire to do the same things. But Hobson had a way of articulating it. He’s not a shy guy, never one at a loss for words. As a coach in a competitive football town, that personality came through. Back when District 25 had open boundaries and intrigued eighth graders would come check out Century, there was no better pitchman than Hobson.
“He’s a hell of a marketer,” Century basketball coach Ryan Frost said of Hobson. “He did a great job of making Century High School the choice, that they wanted to go there. When he talked to people, he drew in that confidence of, ‘Hey, I want you to come to Century.’”
Since the district recently nixed the open boundaries, Frost felt like Hobson went from being at an advantage by using his personable demeanor to entice kids to become Diamondbacks to being at a disadvantage because kids were only allowed to enroll out of their boundary if they wanted to go to Pocatello.
“It’s horrendous,” Frost said. “Boundaries do not matter for Poky. You can live wherever you want and go to Pocatello High School right now – which is totally unfair. … They get their allotment of kids and then five or 10% more. Especially in football, you’re telling me a football coach doesn’t want 10% more athletes?”