"Yeah," Bostad said in a telephone interview, acknowledging his homecoming. "But at the same time it's a job and it's very sweet and excited and all those things. But I'm there to try to continue the great things that have been done at the University of Wisconsin, first and foremost."
Bostad paused before continuing.
"Super excited," he said. "Don't get me wrong. There's no doubt. For me professionally, it's a great opportunity and for my family it is great. And it just really was the next step in my career. So I'm tickled… I really am excited about it."
Bostad, 39, has been a collegiate offensive line coach since 1990, including the last seven seasons at New Mexico, where he tutored 14 all-conference players and one All-American.
In Albuquerque Friday, Bostad met with his New Mexico players for the last time, to tell them he was taking the job at Wisconsin. He plans to arrive in Madison Sunday.
"I owe a lot to the kids that have played for me over the years," Bostad said. "They're the reason why I'm getting the opportunity that I've gotten. I really want to give those guys the credits, the kudos. It's hard to say goodbye to them."
Bostad met new Badger head coach Bret Bielema at a coaching convention about 10 years ago, and the two have kept in "light contact" since, Bostad said.
"I have followed Bob's career from afar since we met," Bielema said in a press release Friday. "He has had success at New Mexico, has been a graduate assistant in the Big Ten at Minnesota and is familiar with the state of Wisconsin. He's coming home to coach and I think it will be a great fit for Bob, his family and our program."
The Lobos were 43-41 overall and 29-21 in the Mountain West Conference during Bostad's tenure in Albuquerque, including three consecutive 5-2 conference marks from 2002 to 2004. UNM boasted two first-team all-conference linemen last season, who helped tailback DonTrell Moore finish 10th in the nation in rushing while winning MWC offensive player of the year honors.
Bostad was an all-conference linebacker in all four of his seasons at UWSP, and was part of the Pointers Division III co-national championship team in 1987.
In 1992, he landed a job as a graduate assistant at Minnesota under coach Jim Wacker, after sending out résumés to 117 Division I schools.
"That was all the opportunity I needed," Bostad said. "Ever since then I jumped in there and I worked my tail off. I didn't know anybody there, didn't have any connections there… and earned the respect of the people that I worked with."
Bostad also coached at Cal State Northridge and San Jose State before arriving in Albuquerque. At San Jose he coached David Loverne, a New York Jets third-round pick in 1999. Among his pupils at UNM was Claude Terrell, a third-team Associated Press All-American who started as a rookie for the St. Louis Rams last season.
"My mentor has been hard work," Bostad said. "I bit, scratched (and clawed) for everything I've got. I have no lineage, I have no pedigree."
Bostad does have a coaching heritage. His father, Bob Bostad Sr., spent 20 years as the head football coach at Pardeeville High School and was inducted in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1992.
"That doesn't carry very far in the (states) of Texas and California and things like that where I've been," said Bostad, whose recruiting territory with the Lobos included part of Texas. "The things that I'm more proud of than anything is that in New Mexico, San Jose State, these are tough places to win. These are tough places to recruit. And when you have success at those places and put guys in the NFL you're obviously doing some right things."
That "hard work as mentor" attitude has affected Bostad's coaching philosophy.
"The guys that I've coached, we've always prided ourselves on out-working people," Bostad said. "Out-working them, out-hitting them… Kids had a lot of pride in that and start to develop that and believe in it."
The Bob Bostad file
1990-91 – UW-Stevens Point, offensive line
1991 – Kristianstad, Sweden (European professional football), head coach
1992-94 – Minnesota, offensive line, graduate assistant
1995-96 – Cal State Northridge, offensive line
1997-98 – San Jose State, offensive line and offensive coordinator ('98)
1999-2005 – New Mexico, offensive line