I will miss Bobby Bowden. I respect the man for many things he has done and for the success he brought to Florida State University. I do believe that he came into a situation that was ripe for success, luck is usually when preparation meets opportunity, and Bobby was in the right place at the right time with the right approach.
As I have read the comments section of each post the last few days, I keep coming back to the people that claim Jimbo will fail, or that TN will not be happy unless they can begin tearing Jimbo's program apart. That is hogwash. The best thing about Jimbo taking over is that he is not a legend. He can be held accountable without the blinders of sentimentality and history. Jimbo will not be able to get away with the same things that Bobby did. No one expects Jimbo to accomplish 14 straight seasons in the top 5. No one expects Jimbo to have the longevity that Bobby did.
All that TN has asked for time and again is for a coach that does not rest on his laurels and that works hard to make the program a success. The thing that has frustrated so many of us in the last 9 years is that we have made all these mistakes specifically out of respect for Bobby. The reason the Bowdens are so pissed is because we have been enablers as a program. While Coach Bowden may be an egomaniac, which all successful coaches are at this level, I don't believe that he felt this entitled until the second half of his career. When you live in an echo chamber where you can get your way on any issue, it seems unfair when you suddenly have to play by the rules again. It pisses me off when people say that Bobby should be allowed to go out on his own terms. What terms would those be? Bobby has been dictating the terms for the last decade. He was 70 in 1999. Is it too much to ask that he be a bit more specific about his agenda. How about just 5 years ago when he was 75? The program was showing signs of decline then. His basic approach has been, "I'll coach until I die, then it won't matter what shape the program is in, because I'll be gone". Sure, he gave sound bites about how he wouldn't want to coach if they started losing, but we all knew he didn't mean it. Look back over the last 10 years, he has not given us any reason to expect this to go down differently.
Yes, FSU has been unfair to Bobby Bowden. FSU was unfair to give in to this man each step of the way. FSU was unfair to let the man become more important than the school and the football program. FSU was unfair to allow Bobby Bowden to be compensated for past performance rather than for the state of the program currently. FSU was unfair to memorialize him before the end of his career to the level they have.
It is not unfair to return to having high standards and expecting had work from a head coach and his staff at a major college football program. It is not unfair to try to work things out behind the scenes for years until you have no choice but to go public.
Jimbo will not be Bobby Bowden. Thank God! Even if Jimbo fails miserably, I will always respect him for breaking this cycle of disfunction and freeing the program to judge the Head Coach on results rather than on reputation. I would rather see several head coaches in the next 10 years than see us let the program spiral downward for a decade based on annual promises that we are a year away. Even if Jimbo is not the guy, FSU has an opportunity to turn things around. Jimbo is the first step in that direction. I wish that Bobby had been the first step, but he was given every opportunity to be the guy. Between circumstances like Micky's tragedy, where Bobby could have let the man go deal with his family and brought in a dynamic young DC, to telling TK to shut up about the online course and minimize the impact, Bobby could have steered the ship better.
Yes, with Bobby retiring, FSU will be just like every other program in the country (except Penn State). Good. It wasn't going to last forever no matter how hard you wished for it. I'm not saying it is better, it is just the reality of the situation. There are only so many ways this could have ended, and Bobby made it perfectly clear that this would be the route he would take if he didn't die. It is no one's fault but Bowden's that it came to this.