The Bobby Bowden Contract: A mere formality?

A few weeks ago while everyone was concerned about the possibility of Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett leaving to take another job as he was frustrated with the lack of progress on a contract extension, I began to hear some really outlandish rumors about the Bowden contract.  I initially dismissed them but they piqued my interest as these whispers certainly could impact the Rick Trickett contract situation if they were true.  FSU Athletic Director Randy Spetman said that he would do the Bowden deal first and then talk shop with Trickett.  Specifically, I heard that there might be some trouble getting the contract done. 


Remember that over a month ago (Dec 16th), Spetman said he expects Bowden to sign another one year deal soon.  Bowden made a little over $2,200,000.00 in 2008.  Despite having talks right after the bowl game, no contract was signed.  On January 5th, Andrew Carter innocuously wrote that Randy Spetman, the Florida State athletic director, told the Orlando Sentinel earlier today that he's hopeful Bobby Bowden and FSU will agree on a new one year contract "within the week."  That week has passed and yet another week has passed.  Still no Bowden contract.  What gives?  A month after Bowden was expected to sign another one year deal, he has not.  This was supposed to be an easy process, remember?  These days, Bowden's contract is on a 1-year cycle. It's up to him whether he stays or goes, and Bowden says all he needs to do is call FSU President T.K. Wetherell and let him know of his plans.  "After each year," Bowden said, "I let ‘em know whether I plan to come back."

Maybe it is not that easy.  If it were that easy, Bowden would already have signed the deal.  This is where things get interesting.  Since Bowden has not signed the deal, only several things could have gone wrong.  Bowden has clearly had time to sign the deal and not getting it done is clearly a slap in the face of Rick Trickett, whose fears were assuaged last week but still has to be frustrated over not getting an extension to date.  It's not like Bowden and FSU haven't been able to get together; Bobby probably knows where their offices are located.  This problem is rooted in intent, terms, or both.  If Bobby doesn't want to come back, or can't make up his mind, the delay is easily explained.  He really needs to make up his mind, however, because if he retires Jimbo will need time to find replacements for the defensive staff members he might choose to dismiss. 

What if the problem isn't intent at all, but one of terms?  I was initially skeptical about a rumor I had hear two week ago, but the rumor has persisted.  I'll present it to you as it was told to me:

You're spot on about Bowden wanting three years.  Bowden came in and asked for three years.  The university literally laughed out loud at this.  FSU told Bowden that he could have a one year offer, the same as 2008, with no increase.  In the alternative, they presented him with an offer of 3.5 Million to retire permanently.   Bobby and his agent stormed out of the meeting.  Since then, the Bowden camp has acted like a petulant child, not returning calls, won't respond to repeated attempts from the university to find out what Bowden will do.  FSU needs to know what his choice is in order to proceed with their plans, specifically getting the Rick Trickett contract extension done.  The next step will be for FSU to issue a deadline.

I'm not saying this is true, and there are a few versions floating about, but it makes sense.  This would be the first time FSU has stood up to Bowden.


Clearly, a three year deal would conflict with the promise that FSU made to Head Coach in Waiting, Jimbo Fisher: that he would be the head coach by January of 2011 or be paid $5 Million.  I've been critical of Bowden for failing to acknowledge that a change is coming.  Bowden refuses to let Jimbo make important decisions that will help aid in the transition.  This request shows a fundamental lack of respect for the University and, if true, is a clear misread on Bowden's part.  Our own Fsued (the senior voice of Tomahawk Nation) chimes in:

As I wrote a couple weeks ago, the Seminole Nation landscape has changed.  If Bobby Bowden is expecting an outcry from boosters over his "treatment," I'm afraid he will find the silence both deafening and damning.

Does Bowden really think that he will get three more years?  Would he really make the University he supposedly loves dearly pay a penalty of $5 Million dollars?  That would be an act of eipc selfishness, and one the University has now shown it will not tolerate.  Bowden can act like he is the one holding the keys here, but the writing on the wall has now been underlined and highlighted. 

I think this request shows that Bowden has not accepted that Jimbo Fisher will succeed him.  I think it shows that he is still bitter over the booster initiated ouster of his son, much maligned offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden; a hire that Bowden "allegedly" forced on the FSU administration with a combination of strong-arm tactics and Childish threats. 

Why would he ask for this?  There are four prevailing theories that people have as to why Bowden is still coaching.  First, some believe he still loves coaching.  I could see this, but he doesn't do much coaching any more.  Bowden doesn't call plays, isn't meaningfully involved in the scouting process, and doesn't know his own player's names. 

Second, people speculate that he wants to get the all-time wins record.  We've noted that he is very unlikely to catch Joe Paterno (the current leader).  This motivation makes some sense here because Paterno, at age 82, just signed a three year deal, though Penn State insiders seem to believe the three year contract is really more like a one year deal with two easily viodable options. 

Third, many in the know believe that Bowden is very much afraid that he will die once he retires.  I believe this, because Bowden has referenced the death of his Idol, legendary Alabama coach Paul Bear Bryant, just a few short months after his retirement.  Bryant was in his mid-60's.  Now at 80, Bowden isn't long for his time on earth.  At one time, leaving coaching would have been a huge adjustment for Bowden.  Now though, he could still ride around in a gold cart and drink sweet tea from on high even if he did retire.  Still, it's hard to properly gauge the impact that all the youthful energy from the team has on Bowden.  Though 80, Bowden is in excellent health and doesn't engage in the activities that sent Bear Bryant to his early grave.  Does anyone else find it odd that a famously devout Christian would be so fearful of death at his age?

The fourth option is a difficult pill to swallow for many Seminole fans.  This idea goes that Bowden is still coaching because he wants to stick it to the administration, boosters, and fans who banished his son.  By collecting checks for little work, Bowden continues to grow his now considerable fortune, laughing all the way to the bank.  I'm not sure where I stand on this one.  I do think that he's extremely bitter over the failures of his sons (the three coaches have been fired from their positions and either never found a comparable position or accepted a sweetheart deal to work in a lower division), and views Florida State as a reason for their failures

If the figures in this account are correct, we can also make some deductions as to Bowden's mindset.  He stands to make 2.2 Million this year.  In the alternative, he can take 3.5Mil to walk away.  Personally, I think it's absurd that we would offer him 3.5 Million dollars not to coach our team.  Putting the insanity beside for a moment, in order to make 3.5 Million via coaching, Bowden would need to coach two more years.  If he turns down the money, we can assume that he thinks he will be invited back in 2010.  That's a scary proposition for Seminole fans as bowden continues to cripple the program through his lack of leadership and other abilities. 

The bottom line here, however, is that FSU finally refused to be slapped around by the tyrant.  Is it because of FSU President and former Bowden player T.K. Wetherell's health (rumors of the big "C" word)?  Did Bobby think he needed to try to cash in on one last year of negotiations under T.K.?  Let's pray he takes the money and heads for the beach.  It's expensive, but it will work.


On another note, Fsued said:

This makes me further dubious of the report about Amato being out -- if that's to be believed, then who made the call? These two accounts are difficult to reconcile, in my opinion.

It's an interesting question.  Maybe Fisher has gained control over assistant coaches and will exercise that power once recruiting season is over?  Notice I said assistants and not coordinators (Mickey Andrrews).  Steve Ellis had an interesting thought about just that in today's Democrat.

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