Is Jeff Bowden The Worst Coach In College Football History?

Judging by the way he drove one of the most prolific offensive attacks in college football history into the ground, by the way he squandered numerous future NFL Pro-Bowlers in his time in Tallahassee, by the way his offense regressed in each successive season, and by the way his complicity in his father's attempt to turn Florida State into a family piggy bank through nepotism allowed UF the opportunity to rise to a level of unprecedented success... the answer is yes. And appropriately, he still does not have a division-1 head coaching position after his dishonorable discharge in late 2006.

We recently wrote about how Jimbo Fisher has finally righted Florida State's offense and has it again among the nation's elite (top 5 or top 10, depending on how you measure).  After that article ran, we were contacted and offered more data (pre-2004 conference only data was unavailable). 

In 2001, Jeff Bowden took over for Mark Richt as Florida State's offensive coordinator after Richt left to take the Georgia head coaching position.  Jeff was handed the keys to one of the best offenses in college football history.  The 'Noles had appeared in three consecutive national championship games.  They brought in insanely-talented recruiting class after recruiting class.  Florida State players dominated NFL offenses.  And Jeff Bowden couldn't have done a worse job if he had intentionally sabotaged the program.  Have a look (click Image to enlarge):

Acc_ypp_2000s_medium

In 2001, Jeff benefited from the residual teaching of Richt and the offense was the ACC's best, though there was still a massive dropoff from the 2000 mark of 7.9 yards per play.  He had a freshman quarterback in 2001, and some regression was understandable.

Most expected the offense to turn around the next year (2002).  Instead, with a 2nd year starting quarterback, the offense plummeted.  For the first time in years, FSU was more than a half yard per play off the conference's pacesetter.  In 2003, people expected FSU's offense to really be back where it should be.  People were predicting national championships.  Instead, the offense continued to regress for the 3rd year in a row.  Then in 2004, with no remaining starters who had played for Mark Richt, the offense became a nationwide joke.  Florida State failed to gain even 5 yards per play, an egregious sin.  And remember that in 2004, the ACC had yet to expand, so Florida State did not play excellent defensive teams like Virginia Tech and Boston College.  Another year, and more regression.  2005 and 2006 followed, and the best offense in college football had been transformed into one of the worst major conference attacks in the country.  Six consecutive years of regression.  Yet Bobby Bowden would still have Jeff here if he had his way.  Florida State fans look back and wish Bobby would have quit after the 2006 season, as he threatened to do after the booster$ persuaded Jeff to not take his contract renewal/ extension. 

It didn't have to be this way.  The whole time Bobby Bowden said that Florida State was one player away.  He said he knew what the problem was and that he would fix it.  He was wrong.  They were one person away, be that a competent offensive coordinator, or a disinterested party at head coach with the good sense not to hire someone he couldn't fire. 

It was one thing to betray Mickey Andrews after promising him the head coaching job, but to then slap Mickey in the face by hiring an incompetent family member be Andrews' counterpart was disgraceful.  Bowden will not end up with the major all-time records because he spent 20% of his career in Tallahassee pulling stunts that benefited his family at the expense of his FSU family. 

After a lost decade, Florida State should have no second thoughts about jettisoning this "family member."

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