Florida State University has one of the proudest college football traditions in the country, and its legendary coach, Bobby Bowden, is the face of a program that has won two national championships and has never had a losing season.
That's why it was a bit surprising when Florida State Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Smith said it was time for Bowden to retire. But Bowden's Seminoles are 2-3 after starting the season as a nationally ranked team, and Smith said that the program's struggles aren't a recent occurrence.
"My hope is frankly that we'll go ahead, and if we have to, let the world know that this year will be the end of the Bowden era," Smith told fsunews.com. "... I do appreciate what he's done for us, what he's done for the program, what's he done really for the state of Florida. But I think the record will show that the Seminole Nation has been more than patient. We have been in a decline not for a year or two, but we're coming up on seven or eight."
Smith specifically pointed to the confusing current coaching arrangement as a major reason that it is time for Bowden to go. Bowden is the head coach, but offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has been named the coach of the future and Bowden's replacement once the 80-year-old coach retires. That label was placed on Fisher in 2007, but a future head-coaching contract is being worked on now by FSU President T. K. Wetherell and his legal counsel.
"We've got too many bosses out there," Smith said. "Jimbo is in a very, very tough situation where people assume he has a whole lot more authority than he really has. He's getting blamed for a lot of things that's just not his fault."
Bowden didn't want to talk about the situation with reporters yesterday, but his wife told the Orlando Sentinel that her husband was being treated poorly.
"I am angry," Ann Bowden said yesterday. "I'm angry at some of our boosters that Bobby has worked for and supported, raised money for. And he's been such a top-quality person, such great character and everything for this university. And for them to turn their back on him like that—I don't care if he is 80 years old."
But the message from Smith was clear: Reputation has nothing to do with results, and he isn't happy with the latest scores coming out of Tallahassee.
"We're not paying to support an average or mediocre program," Smith said. "We're paying for a quality program, and we're not getting that right now."
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