Update: When pressed, Bowden stated that he would not disagree with Jimbo Fisher's choice.
"I think he [Fisher] definitely has to have a say-so because he's the future here. You know it?" Bowden said of Fisher. "And it's one of those things I'll make the final decision on. But I'll definitely get his input, and very strongly."
This is one of the most laughable things Bowden has said of late. Bowden is no longer in touch with the coaching community, he's not out networking with young up-and-coming coaches, and he won't have any meaningful say in the hiring of the next defensive coordinator. Aside from the fact that it is illogical to let Bowden decide who will be the defensive coordinator after he is gone from the program instead of Fisher, who is saving Florida State, Bowden simply isn't capable of making a quality hire at this point. Do I need to bring up Jeff Bowden, Chuck Amato, Dexter Carter, or Jodey Allen? Let's see how many of Bowden's recent hires get jobs after they are not retained by Florida State.
Instead of that noise, Bowden should have said "Mickey Andrews is our defensive coordinator and has been a great 'Nole for many years. We're focused on beating Clemson. At the conclusion of this season, we will aggressively pursue the defensive coordinator Jimbo thinks will best help lead Florida State into the next decade as a dominant football program."
But instead, he continues to try to assert that he has this power that he simply doesn't have. It's almost like a kid gloating because his mom left him $15 to order a pizza. Only she gave him the specific order. And he will have to go to bed before it arrives. What's the point?
I know that Fisher and pretty much all aspiring young coaches keep a "dream staff list" of guys they would hire should they get a head coaching position.
Inside, I give my thoughts on what Bowden's comments mean, what FSU will do, when we might expect changes, and who the next defensive coordinator could be.
Let's update: I think the exact same thing I thought back on October 7th, with a few additions.
As I told you Monday, Jimbo Fisher is on the verge of getting a new contract that will grant him nearly all of the meaningful head coaching powers(final say over game day operations, recruiting, coaching, practice, and personnel decisions) as soon as the current regular season ends.
As I indicated yesterday morning, Bobby Bowden has two choices. Bowden can choose stay on for 2010 as an emasculated head coach in name only, ceding all powers to Jimbo Fisher. That would mean that Fisher could fire team cancer/ linebackers coach/ executive head coach Chuck Amato, Defensive Ends coach Jody Allen, and a few other coaches who are either unqualified or unwilling to coach at a championship level. Combine that with the almost certain retirement of legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews at season's end, and you have a situation where Bobby Bowden would not be able to promote Amato, thought to be the person he trusts on staff, to the defensive coordinator position. Under this scenario, Bowden would receive only the $1 Million bonus for the lifetime achievement (see linked article above). Since Bowden would not be allowed to make any personnel or other important decisions, he would obviously not be promoting Amato to replace Andrews as defensive coordinator.
On the other hand, Bowden has a lucrative deal available to him should he elect to simply walk away at season's end. In addition to the $1 Million bonus, I believe the boosters will offer him as much as $3 Million in extra compensation, possibly more, for him to just go away. How much does Bowden really care about money?. How much does his family care about money? Some say a lot because he allegedly lost a good bit of money in his son's felony investment scheme and allegedly lost some more in some condos gone bad along Florida's Emerald Coast during the real estate crash. If his posturing is merely a money grab, he'll take this option.
I am told that Bowden is digging in and is refusing either option. Obviously, his obstinacy is not making this situation easy. I told you this could get ugly.
FSU held strong. Mickey Andrews announced his retirement, as we reported FSU had been telling recruits that he would do. Bowden's two options still remain the the university will not budge, we are told.
The major hangup is still Chuck Amato. Bowden's loyalty is again causing him problems. It's served him well at times throughout his carer. Here however, if he decides that his loyalty to Chuck Amato is more important to him than Florida State, his Florida State coaching career will be over. He wants to name Amato as the next defensive coordinator. Florida State simply will not allow that.
But if Bowden does elect to come back under the terms of the offer, what does that say about him? Is he simply coaching to pick up a check? With no right to make meaningful decisions, what would Bowden be doing? Would he sacrifice Amato to save himself? Some would ask that question now, but insiders unanimously will tell you that his role on the current team is much worse than figurehead. It's worse because he still tries to make decisions he believes are good, but in reality they are not beneficial to the team because he is ill-informed and not capable of leading well enough to make those decisions. Any win he gained on his record under this proposal would have to ring hollow. Isn't Bowden a more prideful man than that scenario would allow for?
Of course if Bowden did decide to come back in the reduced capacity, it could be that he is motivated by a fear of death. In his book and in several other interviews throughout his career, Bowden has referenced Bear Bryant, the legendary Alabama coach who coach Bowden idolized. Importantly though, Bowden has referenced Bryant's death, which occurred shortly after he quit coaching. So quick in fact, that coach Bryant never lived to see a single snap of Alabama football as a retired coach. The common Bowden quote goes "There's only one more event in a man's life after retirement, and I an't lookin forward to that." I won't get into the man's faith, as this is a forum for analysis of athletics and related issues, but I have always been curious how he meshes his great fear of death with his strong Christian beliefs. I had the pleasure to listen to Coach Bowden give an Easter sermon probably 15 or so years ago and he was excellent, and am in no way questioning his faith.
I've been told that Chuck Amato knows he will not be retained, as does defensive ends coach Jodey Allen. If Bobby comes back, which again, I do not expect him to do, he knows it will not be with his buddies on staff. We're talking straight money grab here folks.
So why the comments?
Playing or Surviving the Media Game
Prepare for Florida State to take a beating in the National Media. Unfortunately, in-depth journalism doesn't gather ratings or readers when it comes to a national media. They specialize in quick blurbs that can be easily repackaged and repeated all over a vast array of outlets. In particular, the older members of the national media will side with Bowden, almost unanimously.
And expect them to be fed anti-FSU information directly from the Bowden camp. Bowden is an 80-year old man with Diabetes, Shingles, and a perpetual flu that has him constantly wiping his nose with a handkerchief as he ambles about the sidelines, sometimes 30 yards away from the action, other times trying to assert his ill-informed will over the team. But the same qualities that make him a terrible current coach(and I say current to separate his current ability from his amazing career), also make him an incredibly sympathetic figure. He's a cute broken down old man who still wants to work and tend to what he built. Nobody from his inner circle will take his keys. Bowden will make a great victim in the national press. Many who are unfamiliar with the situation will be extremely sympathetic towards him.
Nobody in the national media will understand how he has set Florida State's program on fire and driven it off a cliff for a period of time FSU fans have coined the "Lost Decade." The national media won't do their homework and realize that Bowden betrayed Florida State through a series of amazingly selfish and ill-planned decisions. It's smart for the Bowden camp to keep feeding the news media this positive press. Maybe they will hire a PR Firm to do their dirty work.
So while Bowden will shrewdly plays the media game, can Florida State fight back through the press? Indeed they can. They need to do so in an undercover manner, and they may have already started. ESPN ran a story on their ticker that indicated Florida State will not ask Bobby Bowden to step down. That statement is 100% accurate. Bowden is on a one-year contract and he will not be fired during the season. The options, as I laid out above, are either to return with the reduced responsibilities or walk away. There will be no firing. It would simply be a non-renewal of a one year contract. No outlet will be able to say Florida State fired Bobby Bowden. They simply didn't elect to renew his deal. Florida State doesn't need to drum up much public support. They can weather the media storm because they hold all the cards. Bowden is the one who needs a miracle here.
Guess what, he's still playing the media game. I'm not sure how that P.R. firm is working out for him, but I believe that his current motivation is two-fold. First, his comments increase the money FSU will pay him to go away. Second, if he did come back, he wants to appear to have as much control as possible.
And Florida State will continue to not comment on the situation. Instead, it will let its contract with Fisher do the talking. FSU is handling this correctly. Mickey announcing was the first step.
It seems increasingly likely that Fisher's contract will get done very soon, granting him head coach powers, with or without the title. As for Bowden, Florida State might just let this one die down a bit in the media. FSU can make it look like this situation is completely up to Bobby Bowden. It's not Florida State's decision, it's Bowden's retirement planning.
I initially thought that Florida State needed to handle this like a band-aid. Rip that sucker off and begin the healing process. Don't let it linger. I thought that because I believed that FSU needed an announcement from Bowden in order to appease the boosters and save the recruiting class.
But I no longer believe that. With the Fisher contract likely to grant him full coach powers, I no longer feel Bowden's announcement is essential. Making it seem like this situation was all about the Fisher contract and completely ignoring any of the pity-party nonsense that comes from the Bowden camp is a genius way to handle this process because it definitively answers questions about Florida State's future (including recruiting) and doesn't force FSU to placate the Bowden camp in any way. Instead of saying "end of the Bobby Bowden Era", FSU will simply say "We are excited to embark on the Jimbo Fisher Era."
As for a timetable on something like this, it is hard to say. I didn't expect Bowden to fight this as hard as he is. Sure, I expected him to publicly fight it, but I expected him to privately accept one of the options. If the Fisher announcement is made soon as many suspect, then the Bowden decision could be delayed until Christmas. It really wouldn't matter. Fisher already has his offensive coordinator on staff, and he would need to select a defensive coordinator regardless of Bowden's decision. The point being, the timing of Bowden choosing either option won't affect Fisher's ability to compile a championship caliber staff and finish strong in the recruiting trail as he and the other coaches attempt to repair some of the damage done by Bowden's mismanagement of the program.
If the Fisher announcement hits a snag, then I would expect some sort of "progress is being made" announcement.
Fisher's contract is pretty much finished, but I believe it is being worked on in such a manner that it can't be accessed by public records law.
When can we expect changes?
As I said previously, I believe they will come right after the Florida game. We will know whether Bowden stays or goes two weeks before Christmas. And I think he is gone. I can't see him staying with a staff full of coaches who won't have to listen to his rambling nonsense.
Who will Fisher pick as his defensive coordinator?
Remember that we initially conducted an exhaustive search of all the coaches with substantial connections to Fisher. I personally believe the signs point to Alabama's Kirby Smart. Why Smart?
- More money at FSU (5 or 600K)
- Connections to Tallahassee and his family is nearby (Smart's parents live in South Georgia, just a stone's throw from Tallahassee).
- Smart coached at Florida State and loved it, reportedly.
- Chance to mold the defense in his own image-- total autonomy and schematic freedom. And with that autonomy, the chance to get credit for doing so.
- Get credit for turning around one of the bottom 30 defenses in the country. No matter what, Bama's defense will always be Saban's.
- Not having to work for Nick Saban (Guys want to work for Saban only long enough to learn all he has to teach, then they get out. He's terrible to work for and treats his guys like crap. Also, families of Saban's coaches typically don't enjoy it.) Fisher could be slightly less insane than Saban and still be effective.
- Quicker path to a head coaching job. Saban has not done a good job of promoting his assistants for head coaching positions. Smart would have to know that if he turns FSU's defense around (likely, given the current cluster that is the defensive staff), he'd be one of the hottest commodities in the country, especially given that he learned from two organizational masters.
- Other ties I won't delve into.
No matter who it is, the next DC will be of the Saban defensive mold (read that). There isn't a defensive system that is close when it comes to the college game.
So I predict that there will be big changes in less than a month, and those changes will be known to the public. If I had to say it right now, I'd say Kirby Smart in, Bobby Bowden out.