With all of the rough starts in the ACC, it’s dumbfounding to think the hottest seat in the conference now seems to belong to the legendary Bobby Bowden.
Just to recap, Florida State lost 28-21 to Boston College on Saturday to fall to 2-3, the team’s worst start since Bowden’s first year as head coach in 1976. The Seminoles also dropped to 0-2 in the ACC for the first time ever.
As soon as the clock hit zero in Chestnut Hill, things turned ugly in Tallahassee. A Facebook group has been formed calling for FSU fans to “Black Out Doak for Change.” As of Tuesday morning, the group had more than 4,200 members and was growing by the minute.
On Sunday, Tallahassee Democrat writer Steve Ellis put it thusly:
It is time to move beyond the Bobby Bowden Era.
Let Bowden finish out the season. Because of what he has done for Florida State’s football program, the university and college football, he is owed that much. Say what you want, but Bobby Bowden put the university on the map, gave FSU fans the thrill of two national titles and a legacy of consistency with 14-consecutive top-five finishes that is still the standard in this sport.
A move of that magnitude at nearly mid-season would be so unwise for FSU in so many ways. That includes the impression it would give of how it does business with its own. This is not professional sports.
Yet it is time.
A day later, Ellis quoted Jim Smith, chair of the FSU Board of Trustees, calling for Bowden to pass the torch to coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher to eliminate any doubt about Fisher’s role with the program.
“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,” said Smith, who has served as Secretary of State, Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office and State Attorney General. “… 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 or three but I think we’re coming up on seven or eight. I think enough is enough.”
The Seminoles are obviously a long way from their glory days of 10-win seasons, top-5 finishes and complete domination of the ACC. And Fisher’s presence on the staff as future head coach/assistant coach has to be causing some questions internally (and for recruits) about who’s got control of the program.
Yet there’s still something unsavory about watching FSU alumni and fans trying to push into retirement the man who brought them two national titles and created an elite college football program. Bowden’s post-prime years (everything since the 2001 Orange Bowl) haven’t lived up to the lofty standards that he set, but the Seminoles have still had winning seasons, made bowl appearances each year and won three conference titles. And keep in mind that Penn State fans were calling for Joe Paterno’s ouster after back-to-back losing seasons in 2003 and 2004. The next year, the Nittany Lions went 11-1, won the Big Ten and beat Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Maybe Bowden should move gracefully into retirement. But if any college football coach has earned the right to decide for himself that his time is up, it’s Bowden.