[Editor's Note: It is not my contention that Bobby Bowden isn't a legend. He clearly is. I am simply stating that Jimbo Fisher isn't replacing the legend version of Bowden, on the field or off. It would be a different story if Fisher was replacing a legend who bowed out in his prime, like Ray Perkins (Bear Bryant), Fred Akers (Darrell Royal), Earle Bruce (Woody Hayes), Ron Zook (Spurrier), Frank Solich (Tom Osborne), Bill Guthrie (Dean Smith), Mike Davis (Bobby Knight), Lloyd Carr (Bo Schembechler), or Dennis Erickson (Jimmy Johnson) did. There isn't an analogous situation to Bowden's because no school has ever let a coach stay around for 8 years after he started to go downhill. I do find Arkansas an interesting comparison, as Broyles finished with 5 washed-up seasons, and his second to last year was a promising mirage, much like Bowden's 2008. ]
I've been waiting to write this piece since January. I knew the time would come when some beat guy or columnist would get lazy and write the "following a legend" piece. It took four months but Caulton Tudor of the Raleigh News & Observer finally did it, mailing in his Sunday column "Clock Ticking On Noles' Fisher". At least Tudor is an out-of-state writer. Perhaps he can be forgiven for not paying attention to the subject of his article.
If Tudor had taken the time to think about the piece, he would've scrapped the idea. Because any logical person can see that Jimbo Fisher isn't replacing a legend at Florida State. Not in 2010. Not after an embarrassing cheating scandal and being unable to win the ACC for a half decade. Not after a decade in which the 'Noles went 5-15 against the Gators and Hurricanes. The article would be appropriate if Fisher was replacing Bowden in 2000 and not 2010. But the only thing legendary about the coach Fisher is replacing in the year 2010 is the unprecedented record of nepotism, coaching futility, and wasted talent. let's take a look at what Tudor has to say and why his argument is ill-fitting and contradicts itself.
If history repeats itself, and it often does in college sports, John James "Jimbo" Fisher is getting paid a fortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Those who study history will tell you that situations with a lot of common factors often produce similar results. As I said above, it would make sense to for Tudor to consider what the commonalities are between the "history" and Florida State's situation. Instead, he just skips over that and references the "fortune" FSU is supposedly paying Fisher. Fisher's contract is both irrelevant and not in the upper echelon of college coaches.
That's the way it generally pans out for coaches who replace legends. It's also a pattern Fisher understood when he agreed to follow Bobby Bowden on Florida State football's hot seat. "But it's not easy to win anywhere or under any circumstances," Fisher said when the decision basically was made by the school for Bowden to step down after the 2009 season. That's true enough. It's also important to point out that if Fisher is in the wrong place at the wrong time, he's at least there with the right team.
The right team could probably also be said as "the right place" and would definitely make sense as "the right time," so I don't really understand his point. Unless it is filler. Then it makes sense that Tudor's half-baked idea shouldn't be turned into a column and he has to fill it with mindless drivel like the above quote.
Additionally, after almost an entire decade of futility during which the 'Noles sent 5-16 against UF & Miami, how can the author argue that it is the wrong time?
By almost any definition directly related to personnel, depth, talent or scheduling, Fisher's first Seminole team is better equipped to win big than any FSU team since at least 2004 and possibly 2001.
While grooming for the job as offensive coordinator the past three seasons, Fisher also groomed redshirt junior Christian Ponder to be the quarterback entrusted with getting the team back into the national top 10.
Now this is just lazy journalism. No team that played a schedule as difficult as Florida State's ended up in the top 10. So the scheduling, which should again be one of the 10 toughest in the country including 6 bowl teams plus Oklahoma and Florida, is certainly not "better equipped to win big since 2001." Fisher did demolish the rotting house that was the Florida State offense and build it into one of the best attacks in the country. As Corey Clark of the Tallahassee Democrat recently noted on twitter, the cupboard was quite bare when Fisher arrived at Florida State. None of the players former offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden (Bobby's controversial son) left for Fisher have been drafted in three years. Florida State was stale in early 2007 when Fisher arrived, and had Jimbo not come when he did, it would likely be completely rotten today.
With 22 career starts, Ponder will be the centerpiece of the ACC's most experienced offensive team, a unit that includes nine other starters and three NFL interior line prospects.
It should be pointed out that the previous staff thought of Ponder as a throwaway player and told Fisher he was crazy when he arrived and said "that's my quarterback." So excuse me if I'm slow to credit the previous staff for a player that they regarded as a kid who was recruited primarily because his dad played for Bowden in the early 80s. Additionally, FSU does not have three NFL interior line prospects. Rodney Hudson will be an early-round pick, but McMahon is unlikely to be drafted and Spurlock isn't even receiving all-conference honors yet. An exterior lineman, Andrew Datko, is considered a nice NFL prospect.
The defense is less established, but there's a veteran defensive front, and Bowden spent much of his final two years rededicated to recruiting.
Here, the author seems to be making stuff up as he goes. The defense isn't just less established, it was the 2nd worst major conference defense in the entire country. The defense is now learning a new scheme.
Also, Bowden did not spend "much of his final two years rededicated to recruiting." Nothing could be further from the truth. Bowden was barely involved and did not even know the names of most of FSU's targets. What Tudor wrote is the exact opposite of true, but writing that fiction does help to prop up his story that Fisher has a very tough act to follow and that Bowden set the program up to be successful going forward in his final two years.
To his credit, Fisher readily admits that many of the right parts are in place. Then again, what's the use in poor-mouthing your team when the world knows you're on a time clock from the opening kickoff?
Huh? This doesn't make any sense. There would absolutely be use in saying that the team is a long ways off and that it will take several recruiting cycles before it is ready to compete for the conference title. Why? It would help to buy the time that Tudor claims Fisher does not have. Also, "time clock" seems silly. What else would the clock be doing?.
In 34 seasons at FSU, Bowden went 316-97-4. In three of his final four seasons, though, the Seminoles finished no better than 7-6 overall.
That record was accumulated when FSU played in a much worse ACC. Bowden has a losing record against both the Gators and the Canes. He posted a 14-21 record against Miami and 4 of the 10 wins came when Miami was docked 24 'ships. He was also 17-18-1 against UF and the 1987 1988 1989 and 1990 wins came when UF was under major probation with scholarship reductions. That's 31-39-1 (44%) against Florida State's two major rivals. 8 more losses than wins.
Fisher isn't likely to see Miami or UF lose 20+ scholarships any time soon. He won't have the enormous recruiting advantage Bowden had. Fans do, however, expect the results they think they remember Bowden having (those results would obviously be better than what Bobby actually accomplished against FSU's rivals). But what are facts to get in the way of a cliche Sunday column?
Two or three of those 7-6 finishes won't buy Fisher 34 years of job security. They'll buy him an exit ticket and likely will turn the Seminoles football job into a walking wasp's nest for a few years to come.
This doesn't make any sense. The writer claims Fisher is immediately on the hot seat, but then says that he won't have much job security with two or three seasons of 7-6? FSU fans expect much more than 21-18 over his first three seasons. Tudor needs to make up his mind. If Fisher is truly on the hot seat as he claims, he needs to make a claim like "Fisher has three years to win the ACC or he'll find himself on his way out of town."
By going the coach-in-waiting route, Florida State gambled in the biggest possible way by never opening the door to other interested job candidates. It could turn out to be a mistake that haunts both parties long after Bowden's national championships fade from public memory.
Except its geriatric coach and rotting program needed someone to baby sit it until it got its act together. And it needed it badly in 2007. Without Fisher to save FSU over the last three years, the program would have likely posted back-to-back losing seasons, if not back-to-back-to-back.
And if the Fisher era doesn't get off to a sweet start, it'll likely have a sour ending.
And end it with a lame line like that.
It is hard to follow a legend. Apparently it's just harder to determine if that is actually happening.