This is not the way Bobby Bowden wanted to go out. You could already see it in the early reports that the great coach was expected to retire.
Saint Bobby went to a lunch “for about an hour” Monday afternoon with president T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman. He came back the soon-to-be former coach at Florida State.
It was a gentlemen’s knee capping. You leave the office the Bobfather of a football dynasty. You come back with your career in a pine box with a press release draped over it. According to reports, they gave the coach a choice: become a ceremonial figure with little day-to-day input into the program or retire.
Thirty-four years and they don’t even let you go out on your own terms. No farewell tour, just – farewell. Bowden wanted one more year, one more shot. What was it going to hurt? Florida State wasn’t going to win the national championship, probably wasn’t going to win the ACC, but Bowden deserved a chance a season-long goodbye wave from his parade float.
The administration is the one who put the program in this situation why not let it play out? That’s why the school had a coach-in-waiting. Jimbo Fisher was never Bobby’s idea anyway. It seemed like a seamless transition. Then the seams ripped.
Recruiting went downhill. Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews lost his touch. The ACC got better and beat the Seminoles with relish. If Saturday’s beat down at Florida was the final straw, then that was foolish and reactive.
What did you think was going to happen, Team Wetherell/Spetman? This program has bigger problems than Bobby hanging on one more year. It needs to start going head-to-head with Florida in recruiting again. It needs a defensive coordinator hired by Fisher.
What you did Monday, should have been done three years ago. At this point, what’s the difference? The transition to Fisher could have been made in 2010 with Bobby accepting retirement rocking chairs from adoring rivals at midfield before every road game. They could have made that final home game next year like a Super Bowl. It would have sold out, something that hasn’t happened in a while at Doak.
Bobby’s last home game will go down as a win over Maryland that clinched a bowl berth before about 30,000 empty seats. The program had come full circle. No one cared before Bobby got there. They were starting to care less at the end.
A wise man once said that an attendance decline will get a coach in trouble more than anything. There’s no dignity in that, no glory.
Sure, Bowden let it get that way but so did his bosses. They deserve some of the blame. Let’s just hope they picked up the tab for Bobby’s farewell lunch.
It was quick and quiet. Something tells me Bobby never wanted to go out that way.