It was announced last week that the legendary Florida State University football coach, Bobby Bowden, would retire at the end of this football season. That will bring to an end the 34 year career of one of the most successful college football coaches in US history! This retirement was bittersweet, it ended a year earlier that Bowden would have preferred and with his football program no longer one of the nation’s elite.
Coach Bowden, 80 years old, hoped to coach through the end of the 2010 season before giving way to his offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher. But the 6-6 record extended a streak of mediocre seasons and led to a sagging home attendance and a growing sentiment among FSU supporters that it was time to change.
The Seminoles football coach spent 34 years as their head coach, working under one year contract extensions. That contract paid the coach $2.3 million for this year alone. The coach met with FSU President T. K. Wetherell and the Athletics Director Randy Spetman and was told that he could return next year to the university in some other capacity, but that he would be relieved of his coaching duties after the FSU bowl game. In essence, the coach was put out to pasture!
It was a very sad final chapter for an iconic figure who has won 388 college football games, second only to the other legendary college coach, Joe Paterno of Penn State with 393 victories.
Bowden said several times that he wanted to coach one more year, but he sensed what was coming this week. In typical Bobby Bowden fashion he released a press statement that said, “Nothing lasts forever, does it? But I’ve had some wonderful years here a Florida State, you know it? Hadn’t done as good lately as I wished I could have, but I’ve had wonderful years, no regrets.”
Bowden began his 44 year coaching career in 1959 at his alma mater, tiny Howard College (now Stamford), in Birmingham, Alabama. There he went 31-6 in four years. Next stop for Bowden was West Virgina where he spent six years as their head coach going 42-26 with two bowl appearances.
But Bobby Bowden made his mark on college football as the coach of Florida State University Seminoles! Before Bowden, FSU was 4-29 under two coaches in the previous three seasons! The Seminoles were an orphan in their own state, overshadowed by Florida and Miami!
Here are some of my favorite “Bowdenisms”!
On coming to FSU: “When I was at Alabama, all I heard was “Beat Auburn”. When I was at West Virgina, all I heard was, “Beat Pittsburgh”. When I got to FSU, their bumper stickers read, “Beat Anybody”!
On why he didn’t want to play teams coached his sons: “I knew their mother; she’d give them my plays’!
On faith: “You want to know what a real test of faith is? That’s when you go to church and reach down into your pocket, and all you have is $20 bill!”
On happiness: “Happiness is not money, and it’s not fame, and it’s not power. Happiness is a good wife, a good family, and good health”.
On Retirement: “I guess I’ll retire some day, if I live that long”!
Well Coach, you have been unfairly and unceremoniously been put out to pasture like a used up old dog!
My question to you:
Is this any way to treat an icon and the person who turned around completely the way the rest of college football looks and treats your university? The single person who gave credibility to Florida State University ? The person so closely aligned to the university itself? Is this treatment fair?
What is your take?