The other day I wrote about Joe Paterno, one of the great coaching icons who is still getting it done at Penn State at age 82. But another senior citizen coach is not faring nearly as well.


Florida State’s Bobby Bowden is facing the inevitable end of his coaching career. Calls for his ouster are getting louder than ever.

Questions about Bowden’s tenure are happening during a season that started with great promise but is now quickly unraveling. Florida State has just two wins and three losses this season.

The losses have dampened enthusiasm for the team and have made the soon to be 80-year old Bowden especially vulnerable to calls that he step down.

On Monday the chairman of the university’s board of trustees made it clear that he wants to see Bowden gone at the end of this season. The school already has an agreement with a coach in waiting in offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who is to be paid a reported penalty of 5 million dollars if he is not named Florida Sate’s head coach by the 2010 season.

But indications are Bowden wants to keep coaching. Which means it is looking more and more like it won’t end smoothly for either Bowden or Florida State.

There have been many great teams at Florida State. For years, from the seventies thru the nineties, Bowden’s Seminoles would finish no worse than the top ten. Florida State won national championships in 1993 and 1999. That defined success at Florida State. But now it seems those were many years ago.

The central figure in all of Florida State’s football success has always been Bobby Bowden. Bowden remains down home and syrupy, the epitome of “Aw shucks,” which only enhances his engaging personality.

But most importantly Bobby Bowden has been a big winner. He is number two on the all-time major college victory list behind Joe Paterno. And like Paterno did at Penn State, Bowden singlehandedly built Florida State into a national power.

The folks in Tallahassee want a winner again,. They look across the state at the University of Florida and wonder why they can’t do what the Gators are doing.

The University of Miami appears to be re-emerging. And it doesn’t help that upstart South Florida is also starting to make a name for itself. Which puts even more pressure on the historical expectations at Florida State.

I know age is a factor in pushing Bobby Bowden out. There aren’t too many coaches his age. Only one I can think of. But Florida State was a powerhouse. The Seminoles aren’t any longer. That’s as big a factor as anything.

So as much as I feel for Bobby Bowden and his desire to continue coaching, change sometimes has to be forced. Even if in some eyes it might be too soon or for the wrong reasons.


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  1. John Tabah says:

    I believe that the losses are not that of Bobby Bowden but the head of the offensive Coach. He has a first rate quaterback with receivers that are among the best in the ACC and his offense has not stood up to the pressure. The Miami game lost was the fault of the offense – There only way of scoring was Feild Goals in the first half and they lack the ability to score in the red zone when under real pressure. The Offense Coach needs to teach that ability to handle pressure to his players by giving them that experience during their practices. i.e. give the quaterback and receivers practice by a one (receiver) on three (Defensive) with 10 seconds for the receivers to get free and five seconds for Ponder to throw the pass after receiving the ball from his center. Of course that will not solve the problem but an example of using one’s head in finding a way to get these guys to be able to play under pressure.

  2. […] loss comes in the midst of a brewing drama in Tallahassee about the coaching future of Bowden. Last week the president of the board of trustees called for this season to be Bowden’s last. Things got so bad that even Bowden’s […]