It has been very clear from Bohl's first day at KU in late June that he is different from the stoic, softspoken Bob Frederick, who spent fourteen years as Kansas' athletic director.
During an interview with WHB 810's Kevin Kietzman last month, Bohl jokingly badgered Kietzman to apply for KU football's head coaching vacancy as Kietzman tried to nail down Bohl's plans for replacing Terry Allen, who had just been canned with three games remaining on the schedule. Kietzman said after the show that he had never been more uncomfortable during an interview.
"I found it to be a forced personality," Kietzman said following his first interview with Bohl. "I don't want to say it's fake, but I found it forced and not really genuine."
"Kietzman is a K-State guy, isn't he?" huffed Bohl when confronted with Kietzman's remarks. "I'm sure you could find just as many people who listened to that interview who said they loved what they heard me say." Sure, maybe some listeners were gleeful -- but you'd probably have to travel to Columbia or Manhattan to find them.
"I listened to the [Bohl] interview, and the guy sounded like a moron," chimed in one 810 caller. "He kept making stupid jokes about Kietzman coaching. He didn't sound like an athletic director of a major college.
WHB's Danny Clinkscale is well-versed in all things crimson and blue. He is a KU grad, a former play-by-play announcer for Jayhawk women's basketball, and he lived in Lawrence until recently.
"Al Bohl, until he proves differently to me, is kind of a goofball," Clinkscale told his 810 audience. "His personal skills are odd. Maybe he's a good balance to what Bob Frederick was, but Al Bohl is like the head of a Rotary Club or the mayor of a small town. I think he has a sunshiny front and a ruthless back. Maybe that's a good combination. His upfront, goofball Dr. Doolittle I'm-telling-a-joke-and-laughing-at-it style is kind of weird."
Bohl seems genuinely surprised and hurt by such comments. "Everybody has a right to their opinion," Bohl says. "I know what I'm doing. I can't tell people what to think about me. But I will always stand on my honesty, integrity and character." Bohl pauses before telling me the good news. "You, Kevin Kietzman and Dan Clinkscale don't know Al Bohl."
The Al Bohl I spoke with last week was sincere and focused and wasn't trying to entertain me with each sentence. This Al Bohl needs to subdue the Al Bundy Bohl who has been showing up at news conferences and radio studios.
Bohl, though, says he is not about to change. "I am exactly what I am," he says. "I am very sincere and honest. I also believe in a strong work ethic. I'm not a phony person." His friends apparently tell him as much.
Bohl needs to dial back the used-car-salesman shtick and start acting like the CEO of a multimillion-dollar business. If fans see him as a clown, their patience with new football coach Mark Mangino will be very thin indeed.
"This is a very tough business we're in, and we better try and find some humor in it," Bohl says. Fine, but so far we're only finding humor in a chortling executive who openly compares himself with Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman and George Washington, but acts more like Goofy.