There's a lot to cover with this story. If you're new to the party, or an FSU fan who is not fully filled in on the situation, start here and read about how Bobby Bowden has torn down FSU's once proud program, leading the Board of Trustees Chair Jim Smith to publicly call for his ouster. See the last time Bobby publicly addressed the rumors before last night's practice here. Finally, see the comments of Bobby's wife, Anne Bowden, here. If you have any questions regarding any of the links, chances are your question has been asked and answered, so check the corresponding comment section.
Over the past decade, Bowden has never been afraid to speak his mind. Ever. On any issue. Bowden aggressively went after any who opposed him or his son. He ran his mouth like crazy after the Boston College loss. His wife spoke out yesterday with some really ill-advised comments. At the Booster Luncheon, in reference to the comments of Board of Trustees Chair Jim Smith, he said something along the lines of "everyone is entitled to an opinion, aren't they." But something happened yesterday. Important meetings went down. Bowden is on notice and he has shut up. Bowden's "No comment" after practice last night speaks volumes (you need to watch that):
Throwing the "woman" comment in there won't help his cause. It was probably intended as a joke, but joking like that on camera to a national writer shows just how out of touch the coach (who is older than the game of BINGO) really is. I don't think he's so out of touch as to be blind to what is happening around him, however. He sees the writing on the wall. This will probably be his last season.
Yet I fear the silence may be only temporary. I am told that the Bowdens (not just Bobby) want money from FSU to go away. Understand a few things about Bowden's contract. First, he does not have an option for the 2010 season. That has been erroneously reported by a few non-local outlets. He is on a one-year contract. If he were to come back, it would have to be a mutual agreement between him and Flrorida State. He's owed $1M whenever he ceases to coach Florida State:
"Upon the cessation of Coach's Employment as Head Football Coach for the University, for whatever reason other than a termination for cause as set forth in Section V. A. i), ii) of the Agreement, the University shall pay Coach, from ADF funds, a one-time bonus payment in the amount of $1,000,000 in recognition of the completion of Coach's career at the University and in appreciation of Coach's lifetime achievement and extraordinary contributions to the intercollegiate programs of the University."_ from Bobby Bowden Contract
The "for cause" language is inapplicable here unless he causes huge problems during this season and forces FSU to fire him before his contract runs, which nobody I trust believes would happen.
With that in mind, keep reading...
I do expect Bowden to try to squeeze more money out of Florida State, and he will probably get it. He has leverage. Most of the country doesn't understand just how much of the program's downfall was directly caused by him. So if he starts to make a fuss about being pushed out, Florida State could look bad even though they are completely justified in ridding themselves of the disease that has plagued the program for a decade. Florida State has a few mega-boosters who will pay them, and it is my belief that they will put together the "retirement" (hush money) package by the end of the week and probably sooner. But remember, he is an 80-year old man without anyone who loves or cares about him keeping him in check right now. Don't expect complete silence, even with the attractive compensation package. I anticipate that Bowden will make some ill-advised comments that make himself and the university appear pretty childish.
As for Fisher, he has won over a high percentage of the big money boosters. That's very important because FSU's booster base is extremely top heavy. Yet I would not expect any comment from him until an official finalized announcement comes down, because he still must win over the big money boosters who literally would take Bowden over Florida State. In no way can he appear to have any involvement in Bowden's retirement.
In the worst case scenario for Florida State, Bobby Bowden would still stay on for 2010. But he would lose every single meaningful power he currently has. He would have no say in how practice is conducted. He would have no say in personnel decisions. With a new 5-year contract, Jimbo Fisher would be able to rid the team of the cancer who is Chuck Amato and grossly unqualified defensive ends coach Jody Allen Bobby would not have power to prevent Fisher from jettisoning some of the dead weight on the roster (the guys who do not buy in). Bowden would literally not need to show up to anything, but would retain his head coaching title. But I have heard from some who say that Bowden turned down this very idea. Back to this digging in his heels idea, he seems to continue to be obstinate behind the scenes while suddenly becoming silent on the public (media) front. Obviously, this would be an improvement over the current situation, but it's not ideal. FSU fans need to hope that Florida State isn't in a mood to negotiate, but rather tells Bowden to take it or leave it. The upshot to this is that he would immediately announce to all that that 2010 is the final season and all the future recruits would know it. He'd also need to keep a lid on his family members, who seem to pop off at the mouth at the most inopportune times for the program. Remember that the big boosters who "get it" have already prevailed over those who do not. I don't know if Bowden will come around and acquiesce to these terms, but he isn't dictating here. He does have a chance to take the low road and make things ugly for a few weeks, and again, nothing in the past decade indicates that he will do anything but make this a messy, uncomfortable situation.
In the best case scenario, the boosters put together a package, FSU leans on Bowden, lets him know that next season will be incredibly uncomfortable and awkward, and he announces that this will be his final season.
Personally, I think FSU will achieve the result in the best case scenario, in that Bowden will not be here next yea despite his strong desire to continue to be called "coach", but that Bowden will get his money and embarrass the university and himself in the process with his public comments. In either scenario, Fisher would go from 4th in command, where he currently sits, to 1st in command. He'd be able to address the team. It wouldn't be a big deal if Bowden missed practice because of TV obligations or health reasons.
If there's something Florida State must avoid, it is misunderstanding on the part of Bowden Bowden mustn't be allowed to cause trouble next season. I do not trust him to keep his mouth shut and avoid making inflammatory comments to the media during Fisher's fist season with any actual control.
I've also heard that there is a chance Chuck Amato, defensive ends coach Jody Allen, or both, could be out this week. Other than Bowden, they are Florida State's two worst coaches. Some believe that Amato is actively undermining the efforts of Fisher, and everybody agrees that Allen is laughably unqualified. You'll remember that Allen is the coach who is rumored to have been punched in practice, damaging two of his teeth. The Seminole players deserve better. If this comes to fruition, Florida State has several options to quickly fill their spots. Todd Stroud, the current strength coach, is regarded as a good defensive ends or linebackers coach. He could fill Amato's role and give the entire defensive line to Odell Haggins (most programs only have one defensive line coach). Or, Stroud could take over the defensive ends coaching position, and Florida State could bring in Chris Demarest, a former excellent defensive coach at Rutgers under Greg Schiano who is currently available. He would be coming in as a defensive coordinator, however, but rather a position coach. FSU should be in position to hire an excellent defensive coordinator. Demarest is also a phenomenal recruiter, particularly in the South Florida Area. Pairing Demarest with current recruiting coordinator/ tight ends coach James Coley would give FSU a realistic chance to fight Miami for some of Dade County's top prospects, even in the Cane's backyard.
It should be an interesting week. I think Florida State will make an announcement before Friday. They do not want to have a blacked out section of student seating on national television. We'll stay on top of things the best we can.