Welcome to the worst possible scenario at Florida State -- Bobby Bowden being flogged. Publicly.
Never thought you'd see the day, did you? It's uncomfortable to watch, sort of like seeing your grandfather fall down the stairs. Saint Bobby is one of the most revered figures in the history of the sport but as long as there was no definable exit strategy at FSU, something like this was bound to happen.
It's never easy to tell someone it's time to retire. It's crushing to have to tell Bobby. As you know, the landslide has begun. The trustees chairman called him out this week. So did various columnists in Florida who suggested, gently, in print, "Bobby, it's time ..."
With president T.K. Wetherell declaring his coach will be evaluated after the season, it seems like Bowden is being treated like common coaching chattel. Bowden may or may not be back for 2010. The administration is scrambling to appease coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher.
It's a mess. Bobby deserves a farewell tour that makes Kiss' look like choir practice. Saint Bobby practically put the term "Dadgum" in Webster's. Like Howard Schnellenberger and Steve Spurrier, he helped develop the awesome Florida high school talent and define the last 30 years of college football.
What we're witnessing threatens to tarnish his legacy. This is the worst-case scenario because it's only the sixth week of the season. There almost certainly will be more losses this season and the issue of Bobby's future is going to hang in the air each week like a pooch kick.
If 2009 is it for Bobby, say farewell to that farewell tour. Fans are divided. Fanboy Wetherell has extended himself, losing his grip on the situation, defending Bowden's honor to the NCAA while his own retirement is on the horizon.
Television will continue to show Bobby squinting at the scoreboard, fumbling for his headset and doing halftime interviews that are better left for younger assistants. This has been anguishing to watch because of what Bowden has meant to the media, fans, FSU and college football.
Somewhere down the list is the health of the program as FSU hosts Georgia Tech this week. From now until the end -- whenever that is -- Florida State will be about everything but the games. Seminole Nation is fractured and it can't get up anytime soon.
Expect, then, Florida State to rally up and trash the Yellow Jackets to soothe the week's turmoil. You can feel it in the air. Good day. Uncertain future.
If the FSU job opened up under normal circumstances, it could attract the top names in the country, from the NFL and college. For better or worse, FSU has hitched its future to Jimbo Fisher.
Nothing against Fisher because he is a fine coach and can't be blamed for taking the deal that will pay him millions when he takes over. But this is the downside of the coach-in-waiting thing: What if the program is in decline when the transition takes place?
SB Nation: FSU's vs. Wisconsin's succession
SB Nation: Florida loss would hurt title hopes
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At some point, Fisher is going to have to deal with two core issues: A wise man once said, "Never follow a legend." Fisher is doing just that. Adding to the conundrum is that there is talent on the field. It's obvious. FSU should be better than 2-3 -- it has enough talent to win the ACC.
But it won't. So what's the answer? It's blowin' in the wind, through the president's office and across the field of Doak Campbell.
It's going to be painful watching Saint Bobby walk into the sunset, the only certainty being that he will sometime soon. The question is when will the sun rise again in Tallahassee?
Five on the clock
The season: Excessive celebrations? Bowden on the brink? Anyone notice this is this one of the best weekends of '09 (until next week)? Three games featuring pairs of ranked teams (Nebraska at Missouri, Thursday; Alabama at Ole Miss, Florida at LSU). Ten of the 13 undefeated teams in action. Wisconsin and Stanford taking undefeated conference records on the road.
Auburn is taking the fastest show on turf to Arkansas. Up north, we'll find out if either Iowa or Michigan is for real.
Pay attention, this is getting serious.
Who knows how they get the numbers? The tactic, though, seems to get under the Gators' skin to some extent. Tebow was so bothered by the calls two years ago that he gestured to the LSU students (mimicking putting a cell phone to his ear) after scoring a touchdown in Tiger Stadium.
"It's just a little annoying," said backup John Brantley, who is on red alert if Tebow can't go because of the concussion.
It will be more than a little annoying in Gainesville if Florida loses. Other victims of the carpet calling -- receiver Riley Cooper, offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, even Urban Meyer -- can only hope to hit seven to delete all those venom-filled messages.
If any team can afford a loss, though, it's Florida. Eleven and one still puts it in position to play for the SEC title and national championship.
Jevan Snead will have to stop forcing the ball into narrow spaces (five picks this season, three last week against Vanderbilt). Meanwhile, Greg McElroy has passed up the guy who was supposed to be the SEC's best passer.
'Bama is used to these types of games. Ole Miss just hopes to play in them. Look for the Tide to surpass 30 points for the sixth consecutive game for the first time since 1975.
The truth: This is why your parents told you to never lie, boys and girls. Oklahoma State's Dez Bryant found out that rolling with Deion may be OK. Lying about it is not.
At least all Bryant did was lie. He has a chance to be reinstated some time after Saturday's game at Texas A&M. BYU safety Shiloah Te'o got a DUI in August then apparently lied about it to coach Bronco Mendenhall. Te'o played in five games before the truth won out and he was kicked off the team on Tuesday prior to Saturday's game at UNLV.
|Stanford's Owen Marecic doesn't carry much, just this one on the season, but blocks for Toby Gerhart. (Getty Images)|
"I'm definitely on the same page with him," Marecic told the Portland Oregonian of his coach.
Win at Oregon State this week and the unranked Cardinal, 4-1, will be 4-0 in the league with only two roadies left.
"We bow to no program here at Stanford University," Harbaugh said.
Well, OK then.
Scouting the Nation
Hayden Fried: CSI Iowa City has slowed long enough for Kirk Ferentz to cobble together Iowa's best start in 14 years. Beat Michigan and the Hawkeyes will be 6-0 for the first time since 1985, back when Hayden Fry was making Iowa matter again.
After surviving Northern Iowa, the Hawks won at rivals Iowa State and Penn State before sneaking past Arkansas State. WWL is not quite sure what to make of these guys yet. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi is on the hot seat after throwing seven picks in five games. Freshman RB Adam Robinson is somewhat of a workhorse on pace for an 862-yard season. Not bad after the loss of Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton.
When in doubt, watch the guys whose guts pour over their belts. The lines are always good at Iowa. The Hawks haven't allowed a rushing touchdown in 33 consecutive quarters.
1951: You want motivation, Ohio State? That's the last time you trailed Cincinnati in the AP poll.
With the No. 8 Bearcats off, maybe the No. 9 Bucks can sneak past Cincy after beating unranked Wisconsin. The Ohio State-Wisconsin winner is the king of the Big Ten, at least for a week.
A lot of love in Westwood: "I love everything about this job. I love the planning. I love the strategy involved. I love the interaction with young people. I love recruiting. I like alumni. I even like e-mails from disgruntled alumni. I just don't like losing."
So says UCLA's Rick Neuheisel, the last conference coach to lose (last week against Stanford). The Slickster gets quarterback Kevin Prince back in time for No. 13 Oregon. Meanwhile, it's the other way around for the Ducks' Jeremiah Masoli who expects to back up Nate Costa because of an injured knee.
- What do these teams -- Maryland, Kansas State, Air Force, Temple, Louisiana-Monroe and Stanford have in common? All are the unlikely outright leaders in a division or conference five weeks into the season.
- Tales of a former Heisman candidate: BYU's Max Hall is tied for the national lead in interceptions (10), or at least has the most among the top 100 quarterbacks listed by the NCAA.
- Another thing in Alabama's favor: It is tied for 11th nationally with 15 sacks. Ole Miss is 69th having given up eight.
- Houston (at Mississippi State) hopes to fare better than last week's BCS-ending loss to Texas-El Paso. The Cougars got 42 first downs in the game and lost by 17. Meanwhile, the Miners (at Memphis) went from gaining 53 yards the previous week against Texas to scoring 58 points against Houston.
- One of the season's biggest disappointments has to be North Carolina (3-2, 0-2 in the ACC). Since rushing for 261 yards in the opener against The Citadel, the Tar Heels have averaged less than 60 yards on the ground per game.
- UNLV coach Mike Sanford is back on the hot seat after losing to offensively challenged Nevada 63-28. The school's president called out Urban Meyer's former offensive coordinator at Utah saying, "We're going to be watching." Spooky.
- Up for interpretation: Ole Miss defenders' "fins up" gesture after big plays. The "Landsharks" take a hand and stand it on top of their helmets to imitate a swimming predator. Excessive celebration?
- Hawaii plays its first home game in 36 days (vs. Fresno State) without starting quarterback Greg Alexander, who was knocked out for the season last week with a knee injury.
- Wisconsin is 5-0 for the fifth time in eight years. After those 5-0 starts, the Badgers are a combined 16-16.