If you are a Florida State fan who doesn't like people to speak honestly about the program, don't read this. I also want to start this by saying that by almost all accounts, Bobby Bowden is a great human, a devoted Christian, and a devoted family man. Nobody could ever take away all that he has done for Florida State. Nothing he could do would subtract wins from his impressive record as an all-time coaching great. This post is solely devoted to evaluating his current qualifications to the head coach of a major college football program.
Why the animosity today? Because Bowden finally slipped up and said what many have believed about him for a long time. John Henderson of the Denver Post captured some gem quotes from Robert C Bowden. This is one of the most honest and candid articles I have ever read on Bowden. Please read it before reading this post. It took an out of town reporter to expose Bowden. Expect more of this to come, however, as his time at FSU is short, and it is no longer taboo go speak honestly of Bobby.
"Mediocrity?" said Bowden, sitting in a hotel lobby last week. "Yeah, we're decent, but we're not in the top echelon. Does it bother me? I don't let it. It's one thing about being my age. Who cares? Hey, I can step out tomorrow and go to the beach"
Get out. Seriously. Leave our program. You have some of the lowest admission standards in the country and your program is in the middle of the most fertile recruiting ground in the world, yet you don't care that you've lit this well-oiled machine on fire and crashed it into a ditch? Wonderful, old man. FSU's fans don't demand National Championships every year. They do, however, demand and deserve a coaching staff that is committed and qualified to the chase. Bowden no longer fits that bill, and hasn't for over a half decade. I wish he would step out and get down to that beach. We know he won't yet, because he fears the "next big event after retirement.", a reference to the fate of his idol, Bear Bryant, who died soon after retirement.
I don't want to hear the argument that he has earned the right to leave whenever he chooses. He has lost that right. If an architect builds a great structure you compliment him on it. If he tries to tear it down, you tell him to get out. If he makes horrible changes and fails to maintain that structure, he doesn't get to decide when he leaves.
What Bowden has earned is over 30 Million dollars while the coach of FSU. Nowadays, can anyone justify paying this man a penny to coach this team? At this point, no other comparable program would have him in any meaningful coaching capacity. It makes really sad to see a guy I grew up loving do this to himself, and the program I love.
The real question is this: why is Bowden still here? He doesn't coach anymore. He isn't intimately involved in gameplanning (people chuckle when he throws on a headset). He consistently isn't able to refer to players by their names. Bowden didn't even realize that Wake Forest was in his own division. He stalks the sidelines like an Alzheimer's patient and appears befuddled about what is going on out on that field. Florida State looks like a joke, having three to four coaches trek out onto the field, then come back to Bobby to explain the penalty that was just called. He forces Jimbo to pull double duty as an offensive coordinator and head coach. What about recruiting? Nope, nowadays, recruits mention Jimbo as their reason for committing to Tallahassee. Bobby is a waste of space on this staff and a huge drag on the program. If we didn't have to keep him on, Florida State could actually have a defensive backs coach (rules limit the total number of coaches a team may have). Bowden is useless and he needs to leave. He won't, and instead will continue to thieve from Florida State every two weeks as he picks up his check. I have lost a tremendous amount of respect for a man I once revered.
A good way to figure out if you're any good or not is to ask yourself "if I left, could I get another job?" When it comes to Bowden, the answer is clear. Nobody wants a 78 year old coach. If Bowden wants to use all his acquired knowledge to become a football historian, fine. He certainly isn't using it to help this program win. it is quite clear that the game has passed him by. Does anyone really think he is pulling long hours at 78? Young, driven, involved coaches pull legendary long hours, often arriving at a little after 4AM and staying well past midnight. Many coaches sleep in their office. Does anyone seriously think he has the fire and drive of a young coach, looking to make a name for himself? Forget passion for a minute, does anyone think he has the physical ability to even come close to the work put in by the best in the game? Obviously not, and he admitted as much above. Passionate coaches do let massive underacheivent bother them. Do you think Mark Richt, Urban Meyer, or even Jimbo Fisher would be unemployed for long if they left their current jobs? Do you think they would let massive underachievemnt bother them?
So, again I ask, why is Bowden still around? Selfishness and spite?
This fall, Bowden finally acknowledged the all-time wins record. He is clinging to that and knows that his record will look a lot less tarnished if he finishes first. The 2nd place finisher of this battle will certainly have a stain on their record; the stain of selfishly hanging onto former glory while failing to recognize their own incompetence in their later years.
Bowden doesn't seem concerned with setting up this program for the future. He isn't sprinting the last few strides to hand the baton to Jimbo. Insiders say that he was very opposed to naming a successor. If he doesn't care that this team is mediocre, and isn't here to help Jimbo make the transition, what does he care about? What is he doing here? Oh yeah, the record.
So root. Root hard for Penn State. Hope that the rest of the Big 10 collapses. Maybe, just maybe, if JoePa opens up a big enough lead in the all-time wins battle, Bobby will finally leave.
I also think that Bowden wants to stick it to those that ran off the man who called him Diddy.
Short of intentional sabotage, Bowden couldn't have done a better job dismantling the best program in the nation. It was quite amazing to watch actually. Bending state anti-nepotism laws, he ushered in his incompetent son, who quickly helped the program tank.
"There's a lot of unhappiness with the fall of the dynasty," said Charlie Barnes, the executive director of Seminole Boosters for 31 years. "And it happened at a specific time and at a specific place." That dull gong sounded on Jan. 3, 2001, in the Orange Bowl. That's where Florida State flopped in defending its national title in a 13-2 loss to Oklahoma. It was the fewest points the Seminoles had scored in 12 seasons.
"There's a lot of unhappiness with the fall of the dynasty," said Charlie Barnes, the executive director of Seminole Boosters for 31 years. "And it happened at a specific time and at a specific place."
That dull gong sounded on Jan. 3, 2001, in the Orange Bowl. That's where Florida State flopped in defending its national title in a 13-2 loss to Oklahoma. It was the fewest points the Seminoles had scored in 12 seasons.
Here's more from Henderson:
His father sidestepped the university's nepotism rule to promote him from receivers coach to replace Mark Richt in 2001. As an offensive coordinator, Jeff was a fine receivers coach. If he was any more in over his head, he would have coached in scuba gear. As Rix and Weatherford crashed and burned, so did FSU's record.
Florida State hasn't finished in the top 10 in the last seven years, has gone 7-6 each of the last two years and is 12-13 in its past 25 ACC games.
Something else for the defenders: Florida State hasn't been ranked in November since 2005.
Jeff wasn't only terrible at playcalling, quarterback development, media relations, and leadership; he also destroyed Florida State's recruiting on the offensive side of the ball.
To be fair, it wasn't just Jeff. Florida State recruiting in recent years dipped to the level of head scratching. Bobby's assistants, insiders say, were at times scouting off recruiting lists rather than personal evaluations. "They really dropped off," said Tom Lemming, a recruiting guru for ESPN.com.
Bobby still fails to acknowledge that his son was terrible. I can't decide if he is really ashamed that his son was the worst coordinator in ACC history, or if he just is too senile to face the facts. When you insist on a decision that is almost universally opposed and against the law, you had better be right. Bowden couldn't have been more wrong. Long time friends of the program says that the program turned into a nepotism filled joke during Jeffy's tenure. One can only guess how much the crooked leadership dynamic and chain of command played with the psyche of the players and other coaches. Steadfast, Bowden fought any criticism tooth and nail. Accountability on behalf of the coaching staff was nonexistent. Blaming a family member, especially the chosen one, was out of the question.Bobby repeatedly blamed players for failure, something that Bowden fan's hadn't seen before. It must have been tough for the consummate professional Mickey Andrews to stand by and watch his long time boss cripple the program.
Bowden said he knew what was wrong, and that he would fix it. If he knew what was wrong, he certainly didn't show it.
Now, some argue that Bowden did get rid of three coaches (OL Coach Jimmy Heggins, RB Coach Billy Sexton, and QB Coach Darryl Dickey, none of whom are highly regarded or still coaching in the same capacity at a major program). These were excellent dismissals. I can't debate that. He did fire them. Bodwen is known for being fiercly loyal, even to a fault. When he released the three coaches, however, some wondered if it was a move to divert negative attention from his son. He had to have known that if his son continued to flounder, his move would only be a quick fix. Once he fired those guys, the spotlight went directly on his son. If the three coaches Bobby let go weren't the main problem, fans would quickly be able to tell what insiders already knew. Jeffy was a bigger problem than any of the released coaches, and Bowden's protectionist coddling was exposed.
It took the boosters to finally yank Jeff after crippling 30-0 home loss to Wake Forest. I openly rooted for Wake to pour it on in that game, the only time I have ever done so, all the while wishing and hoping that maybe, just maybe, if we were embarrassed badly enough, on national television, someone would mercifully end this charade. It felt so weird to root against the team on the field. It was the only time I've ever hoped that FSU would lose. I was rooting for FSU to get crushed, but in doing so, I was rooting for the players to finally have a chance to be led by a real coach. I was rooting for the good of the program. My wishes were finally granted as Jeffy was gone a week later. He resents those who could see the truth about his son. Remember the "can you get another job doing what you are currently doing" test? Jeffy definitely failed that one as well. Does Bowden's resentment of those who removed his son cloud his judgment? I want to believe that he does realize how poor of a decision he made.
Henderson captured another great nugget:
"He was good," said Bobby, somewhat bitterly. "The most unfair thing was he worked for me. If you're going to hire your son, you'd better win all your games."
Bobby Bowden actually thought Jeffy was good. He still thinks that Jeff was run off unfairly. This man is blinded by his denial. It wasn't that Jeff didn't win all his games, but rather, that he was garbage. Oh wait, I'm sure that it was his relationship to his father, and not his unprofessional and incompetent handling of the offense that drew the ire of Florida State fans. Bobby made the decision that crippled the program and soiled his legacy. He has nobody to blame but himself. How ironic is it that his hubris will likely cost him his last possible achievement.
Henderson has a great image that captures the decline (Jeff took over as Offensive Coordinator in the Orange Bowl following the 200 season) :
Bowden's time has come and gone. It is long past time for him to step down. When you can no longer hang with the big boys, you can't coach at a major program. The signs have been there forever. FSU unveiled "Bobby Bowden Field" a few years ago, constructed numerous statues of the man, and even erected a hideous stained glass window of Bowden. All these idolitries show Bowden in his former role, as an actual coach. Somehow, Bowden missed these hints that it was time for him to hit the road. Florida State could fly a banner behind a plane on game day, but would Bobby see it? Would he care? After all, at his age, he can't let stuff like that bother him.
So I ask again, how does the continued employment of Bobby Bowden mesh with the goal of returning to National Championship contention?
As Bobby often reminds us, he is still the coach. We can only hope that is the last season he can say that. Unfortunately, it seems that he can't live without the spotlight If he leaves now, he can catch some rays while the weather is still nice. Head for the sunset.
A big thank you to John Henderson of the Denver Post for his candor.
Many fans have had enough of Bowden's shenanigans. Here is a quote from a comment on the Andrew Carter's Orlando Sentinel page:
Bowden's overall tone in the Denver Post story is disturbingly apathetic. It's hard to tell if he really doesn't care, really is clueless, or is just too darn personally defensive. It's hard to continue to be supportive when he seems to take his own interests over the program's long-term success. He continues to point out that other once-good teams stink too, as if that is supposed to make fans feel better. He has even seemed to go from thinking FSU is "just a player or play away" to just accepting that FSU isn't very good anymore and might not be for awhile. It is time for him to move on. Unfortunately, the results this year may make that unmistakeably clear. Perhaps he knows that and is just riding this season out.
Unfortunately, many are not as enlightened as this fan, and they are beginning to rip into Jimbo Fisher. Few who do so have any idea how bad off the program was when Jimbo took over following the '96 season.
Hey Seminole fan, what are you a bigger fan of? Bobby Bowden or Florida State?
FSU won't cease to exist once Bowden is gone. His departure won't hurt this team now. I don't want to hear arguments that "he is the program." If he left for another team (laughible, I know, but humor me for a minute ans assume someone would hire him now), would you stop rooting for FSU and become a fan of the newly Bowden-led program?
I stand with the Florida State program. I stand against any actions or continued inaction(s) that are incongruous with the pursuit of excellence.
Let's get kick start this program in the right direction. Henderson and others do see some hope:
Righting the program, which Lemming said has showed improved recruiting under Fisher, is more important than chasing Penn State's Joe Paterno, whose 376 wins is one more than Bowden's career total.
Trust in Jimbo. He might not be an offensive genius, but he is a really good recruiter who has the fire that our once proud coach had. Very few truly comprehend just how bad off this program was when he arrived here. Please be patient. Jimbo is an emperor who at least wears clothes, but we must let him take over now to see if they fit him well.