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Bow(den) Out 12/01/2009

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
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Indications are that Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden will step down this afternoon.  After a long and distinguished career, the 80-year-old Bowden is being forced

Bobby Bowden will no longer be on the FSU sidelines

 out in Tallahassee.  Forced may be too strong an adjective, but Bowden had made it clear that he wished to coach for one more season.  Florida State will not be without a head coach.  They will just be down to the usual number of one.  See, for the past couple of seasons, FSU has had a head coach, Bowden, and a head coach in waiting, Jimbo Fisher.  Bowden wanted to coach one final season, but did not want to be a head coach with no power.  And that seems to be the problem.  The question as to who has input into decisions such as hiring assistant coaches has brought the situation to a head.  Predictably, Fisher has won, and Bowden has lost.

The situation has been unfair to both Bowden and Fisher.  What the hell is a head coach in waiting, any way?  A team can only have one man in charge.  This situation should never have existed at all.  If Florida State wanted Bowden out, they should have made a clean break.  Bowden had put Florida State on the map,  During his 34 seasons as head coach, FSU rose to become on of the elite programs in college football.  During the 16 year span from 1987 to 2000, Bowden’s teams reached double diget wins and finished among the top 5 teams in the nation in each season, including national championships in 1993 and 1999.  It was an incredible run, the likes of which we may never see again.  During Bowden’s first 29 seasons at FSU (from 1976 to 2004), the Seminoles failed to finish ranked in the top 20 only 4 times.  Never had they missed the mark two seasons in a row.  Then the bottom fell out.

Beginning with the 2005 season, the Seminoles have failed to finish in the top 20 for 5 straight seasons.  In all but

Bowden and Peter Warrick with the National Championship trophy following the Jan 5, 2000 Sugar Bowl

one of those seasons FSU has lost 5 or more games.  The handwriting was on the wall in 2007 when FSU hired Fisher as offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting.  From that moment, you had to know that this would not end well.  Fisher has been casting a shadow over Bowden for 3 seasons now.  It has hurt recruiting.  It has become an issue.  The lines between the two has become blurred.  Who is to blame for the problems in Tallahassee?  Is it Bowden?  Is it Fisher?  Just who has been making the decisions for the past 3 seasons?  The blame for any confusion has to be placed squarely at the feet of the FSU administration.  It was never a good idea to have a coach in waiting for up to 5 seasons.  (Apparently there is a clause in Fisher’s contract that would pay him $5 million if he were not the head man by the 2011 season.)  Why bring Fisher in for the 2007 season?  If he is truly that great a coach that FSU could not pass him by, then they owed it to Bowden to make a clean break.  To leave him twisting in the wind these past 3 seasons has disrespected all that he had done for the University and its football program.  On the other hand, Bowden has held on for too long.  Perhaps having Fisher around prolonged the decision that needed to be made.  Fisher is now going to take over the FSU program.  But to some he is already damaged goods.  He, in the mind of some boosters, is to the blame for poor decisions that probably were not his.  He has a much tougher job now than he would have had if he had been in charge from day one of his tenure in Tallahassee.  One wonders if he has less of a chance to succeed now than he would have had.  We will never know, but the Fisher era will officially begin today.

It is a sad day for FSU fans.  All NCAA football fans, in fact.  An era ends today.  Bowden deserved to go out on his own terms.  The University denied him that a couple of years ago.  But he should be remembered for the incredible run he had as one of the most successful coaches ever.

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