Bobby Bowden was not forced out of FSU. He was not even forced out of FSU football, for that matter. He was forced out of a head coaching position that he was unarguably not qualified for. There is a big difference there. FSU has not turned its back on the old man. In my opinion, FSU has opened a door for him. FSU has given Bobby the option to continue to benefit the program in a profound way that Bobby is solely capable of doing.
Bobby has not left the program in a stable, capable condition. He has left it in quite the opposite. Apart from our blatantly unsatisfactory football play (at least on defense), there are other areas of the program bleeding. Long time boosters that donated big bucks have become alienated and closed their pocket books. Attendance at home games is at record lows. Seminole nation is sharply divided in a time when we need to unite.
Jimbo Fisher always says, “Control what you can control.” It is obvious that Bowden lost control over his team’s football play a long time ago. However, Bowden is still Bowden, and he still can control a lot. It is my opinion that arguably the most important part of his legacy that he leaves at FSU is yet to be made.
Right now, what will you remember Bobby Bowden for? I have said that I will try to remember him for the good years and that I’ll try to forget about the lost decade. I do believe that this will get easier in time. But the fact remains, I will forever have to TRY to forget the nepotism era (the same era that I spent 6 years on FSU’s beautiful campus attending college and grad school).
The fact of the matter is, Bobby Bowden became his own worst enemy. Like it or not, his career has ended on a pretty sour note. His legacy is tarnished. Countless fans, once unwavering in their loyalty to Bowden, will always grimace when they think of the great coach's legacy. Right? Perhaps not…
Bobby is at a cross-road. On one hand, he could hang it up. He could retire and travel to Europe with that lovely, eloquent, and oh-so-pleasant wife of his. Of course, fans would remember him for being the best coach in the history of the game. They'd remember the 2 national championships, the 14 consecutive AP top 5 finishes, the 28 straight bowl games, the 6 Coach of the Year awards, the 2 Heisman Trophy winners, the 12 conference championships, and the 388 (hopefully 389) total wins. But there's the ugly side too. They'd remember the overall losing records to Miami, UF, and USF. They'd remember Jeff Bowden. They'd remember years of incoherent ramblings during press conferences. They'd remember the slow, agonizing decline of a once great program. They'd remember the shell of a man once celebrated as the best in the business.
In an ideal world, Bowden would save his legacy. He would act as an ambassador of FSU football. He would admit that he was treated fairly by FSU and move on to the next chapter in his FSU career. He would be a fundraiser for the institution. He would bring back some of those big time boosters. He would unite the fan base and excite recruits by giving motivational speeches about the bright future FSU has to look forward to with Jimbo Fisher. In an ideal world, Bobby would give seflessly to FSU like he did 34 years ago.
I would love to see Bobby swallow his pride and continue to give to the university in this capacity. Perhaps those lost years would be easier to forget, and I’d be able to smile fondly when remembering the name Bobby Bowden.