FSU coach, legend Bobby Bowden retires

Legendary Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden, who has spent the past 34 seasons at the helm of one of college football’s greatest programs, announced his retirement from coaching on Tuesday. He will assume an emeritus with the school, helping with fundraising and other opportunities. With 388 career victories, two National Championships (1993, 1999) and a streak of 14 consecutive top-five finishes in the Associated Press Top 25 poll (1987-2000), Bowden retires as one of the most accomplished coaches in the history of the sport.

While no one will dispute Bowden’s achievements, I personally find the circumstances surrounding his retirement to be disturbing. Having said on more than one occasion toward the tail end of the 2009 season that he wished to continue coaching, retiring now was obviously not Bowden’s decision. Bowden was given two options during a meeting with FSU president T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman on Monday: return to the Seminoles in 2010 as an ambassador to the program with little input on day-to-day operations or retire after the upcoming bowl game.

The Tallahassee Democrat reports that, “as part of his retirement, Bowden is expected to be offered a non-coaching position at FSU for an unspecified amount of time. In addition to any settlement compensation that may be negotiated as part of his retirement, Bowden is also entitled to $1 million upon his retirement as part of a clause in his coaching contract that was agreed upon at least 10 years ago.” Offensive coordinator and long-time coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher has already discussed a contract with the Seminoles to replace Bowden after FSU’s 2009 bowl game. Florida State has secured a berth to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Jan. 1 against the West Virginia Mountaineers, allowing Bowden to coach his final game in the state of Florida.

Neither scenario originally proposed by the Seminoles afforded Bowden the respect, appreciation and celebration he so richly deserves. He is owed an entire season of praise and affection, not a quick farewell that amounts to a kick in the butt and a “don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.” Bowden deserves to say goodbye to Florida State fans after a seventh straight loss to game against the archrival Florida Gators at home in Tallahassee, FL, not a demoralizing loss in Gainesville, FL, or a bowl game on the road (even if it is in the state). At the very least, Bowden should be able to experience the fanfare and adoration he watched Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow receive on Saturday…or that which his own defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews got last week both pre- and post-game against the Maryland Terrapins.

Tebow made it a point to find Bowden on Florida Field after Saturday’s game. Why? He wanted to show his respect to one of the greatest coaches of all time and tell Bowden one thing: “God bless.” Bowden’s response? “God is great.” If only Florida State’s millionaire boosters were as respectful to the man who built their program from the ground up as a 21-year-old rival football player was only two nights ago.

ESPN: Bowden’s legacy goes beyond the game
ESPN: Bowden delivered big wins, laughs
Sun-Sentinel: FSU legend Bobby Bowden deserves a more fitting ending
SI: FSU’s Bobby Bowden leaves a remarkable legacy behind
FOX Sports: Bowden had an amazing run at FSU

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TWO BITS: Strong to Cards? News on ex-Gators.

1 » Earlier in the season, rumors insisted that Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong would be given heavy consideration for the head coaching job with the Memphis Tigers. Reports later surfaced that Strong was not being thought of for the post. Following a rousing victory over the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, rumors have now surfaced that the Louisville Cardinals hope to secure Strong as their future head coach. “I know my job is here right now and it’s the only thing I can worry about,” Strong said when questioned about the rumor. “You can’t let yourself get consumed with it. My job is, ‘Let’s go beat Alabama.’ What can I do? If they are going to hire me, they are going to hire me. But my job right now – let’s go beat ‘Bama.”

2 » A pair of former Gators put themselves in the spotlight this past weekend. Cameron Newton, who was dropped from the Florida football team after being arrested for stealing and destroying a laptop, found a starting job with Blinn College in Texas and is on his way to leading that team to a junior college bowl game in a week. This weekend, however, he was visiting the Mississippi State Bulldogs and head coach Dan Mullen (his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach while at Florida). Newton is expected to pick MSU for obvious reasons and was seen ringing a cowbell during his visit.

Jonathan Mitchell, a former Florida basketball player who transferred to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights for increased playing time, said earlier in the week he was looking forward to showing Gators head coach Billy Donovan what he had lost. Instead, Mitchell only scored six points, contributed two rebounds and two assists and committed a team-high four turnovers – nothing that bothered Donovan or Florida.

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Streaks and records following Florida vs. FSU

- Defeating the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, the No. 1 Florida Gators posted a 12-0 regular-season record for the first time in school history. The Gators also extended their nation-leading, school-record win streak to 22 games, 21 of which have been by a double digit margin.

– Florida won their sixth straight game against Florida State, outscoring them 182-58 since 2006 under head coach Urban Meyer. The Gators are now 33-19-2 all-time against the Seminoles, holding a 20-8-1 record at home in The Swamp.

– 90,907 fans attended the Florida-Florida State game on Saturday, a new Ben Hill Griffin Stadium record.

– The Gators 2009 senior class, the winningest senior class in Southeastern Conference history, improved to 47-6 in their careers, two games better than the previous record.

– Florida’s defense held their opponent to under 100 rushing yards for the fourth straight game and ninth in 2009.

– The Gators were 10-for-13 on third-down conversions, while the defense held the Seminoles to only 2-of-11 in the same scenario.

– Struggling in the red zone early in the season, Florida is now 11-of-14 in the red zone over the past three games. Two of the three empty possessions were the Gators running out the clock. On Saturday, Florida was 4-for-4 in red zone opportunities.

– The Gators have only yielded 11 touchdowns in 2009, with two coming on pick-sixes. This is four fewer than the next lowest total in the nation. Florida has allowed a mere 118 points in 12 games (9.8 average), also good for lowest in the nation.

– A 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter was the Gators’ longest of the season. It resulted in an 18-yard rushing TD by senior quarterback Tim Tebow.

– Tebow broke QB Chris Leak‘s SEC and Florida total offensive yards records, bringing his career total to 11,389 yards after a 311 combined yardage performance.

– Senior kick returner Brandon James broke the SEC career kickoff return record with the 108th of his career on Saturday.

– Sophomore running back Jeff Demps tied his career long with a 62-yard run on Saturday. He topped 100 yards for the third time in his career (106).

– Redshirt freshman cornerback Adrian Bushell made his first career interception on Florida State’s last play of the game.

– 25 seniors were honored before the game on Senior Day. The class’ numerous accomplishments can be found here.

– The Gators wore special Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the game.

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Gator Bites for Sunday, November 29th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across too many news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

– On NBC’s Football Night in America, Peter King said he spoke to 17 NFL general managers about Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. Asking them where they projected him being drafted, King said the average came out to No. 33 overall. However, two coaches of winning teams told King that he would not get past their pick in the first round. No surprise there. Almost the entire group of commentators on The OT on FOX agreed that Florida will beat the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. Some claimed the Gators were poised to win the National Championship while others said Tebow deserves the Heisman Trophy.

– Rolling up 545 yards of total offense on the Florida State Seminoles, the Gators unit looks the most comfortable it has the entire season. Consider the fact that it rolled up 584 yards against the Florida International Golden Panthers the week prior.

Be sure to check out the seven additional Gator Bites after the jump…
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Sunday, November 29th

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Tebow shines as Gators top ‘Noles on Senior Day

Senior quarterback Tim Tebow knew his farewell in The Swamp was going to be an emotional one. What he may not have known was that his sendoff would include a five-touchdown performance en route to a 37-10 No. 1 Florida Gators (12-0, 8-0 SEC) victory over the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles (6-6, 4-4 ACC). The win marked Florida’s sixth straight against Florida State, their 20th all-time in Gainesville, FL.

Tebow went 17-for-21 for 221 yards and three touchdowns through the air, also rushing 15 times for 90 yards and two TDs in front of a Ben Hill Griffin Stadium-record crowd of 90,907. His numbers moved him into sole possession of the Southeastern Conference and Florida records in total offense with 11,389 career yards. He, along with the 24 other seniors, won their 47th career game, extending their dominance as the winningest senior class in SEC history. The win was the Gators’ 22nd consecutive victory and 12th of the season, marking the first time that the Orange and Blue has posted a 12-0 regular season record.

Junior tight end Aaron Hernandez was Tebow’s favorite target on Saturday, registering five receptions for 83 yards and two TDs. His two scores came on pitches, one of which he took for 37 yards into the end zone. Hernandez then threw the ball into the stands, a common move by players who score in their final home game. Sophomore running back Jeff Demps shined in the backfield, totaling 106 yards on seven carries with a career-tying long of 62. Redshirt sophomore RB Chris Rainey was also impressive, earning 73 yards on eight carries with a long of 45. Tebow had a dynamic 47-yard run of his own, but fumbled the ball at the conclusion of the play, turning it over to Florida State.

The Gators took a 30-0 lead into the end of the third quarter, when Seminoles kicker Dustin Hopkins hit a 20-yard field goal to end the shutout. FSU also scored on a nine-yard pass from QB E.J. Manuel to wide receiver Jarmon Forston against Florida’s second-string defense with 6:03 left in the fourth. Aside from those scores, the Gators defense dominated the Seminoles. Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper and junior Brandon Hicks each registered seven tackles, though two of Hicks’ were for a loss. He also forced a fumble and had two sacks on the afternoon. Junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap had three tackles (one for a loss) and a sack, while junior cornerback Joe Haden and freshman Adrian Bushell each nabbed an interception.

Florida will take on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) in the 2009 SEC Championship on Saturday at 4 p.m. from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA.

Senior Day Celebration: Watch

Urban Meyer Postgame Press Conference: Watch

Tim Tebow Postgame Press Conference: Watch

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Week 13: No. 1 Florida Gators vs. FSU Seminoles

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)
Weather Forecast: 60°F – Partly Sunny

Online: CBSSports.com.
Sirius: 218; XM: 201

Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Bobby Bowden
Record: 11-0 (8-0) Record: 6-5 (4-4)
Division: SEC East Division: ACC Atlantic
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -24.5, O/U 56
Head-to-Head Stats: Gainesville Sun

– Florida’s 2009 senior class…who set the Southeastern Conference record for winningest class with their 46th win last Saturday and will be honored on Senior Day. 25 seniors will be playing their last game in The Swamp, and the University of Florida has set aside 10 minutes prior to the game to recognize each player.
– Senior quarterback Tim Tebow…who has already broken the SEC rushing touchdown record (Herschel Walker, Georgia) and touchdowns-scored record (Kevin Faulk, LSU) with 54, set the SEC career record for rushing yards by a QB with 2,743 and has a 169.3 career rating good for No. 1 in conference history.
– Senior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham…who leads the team with seven sacks.
– Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper…who is tops on the Gators with 64 tackles.
– Senior kick returner Brandon James…who set the SEC record for kickoff return yards last week with 2,538 yards on 105 returns. He has also set the SEC all-time kick return mark (combined) with 3,930 yards and all-time punt return mark with 1,339 yards.

– The Gators are in the middle of the longest winning streak in school history with 21 consecutive victories. They also hold the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and the best in the nation in the last 15 years. 20 of Florida’s 21 wins have been by a double digit margin. The team is also 11-0 for the second time in school history.
– The Gators lead the SEC in rushing offense (229.9) and third-down efficiency (.475). They also come in No. 2 in total offense (442.8) and scoring offense (36.5). Florida’s offense is one of two teams nationally that has posted at least 2,500 rushing yards and 2,300 passing yards (TCU).
– On defense, the Gators have only surrendered ten touchdowns all season (fewest of any team in the nation). The unit has also only allowed 13 field goals for a total of 108 points (9.8 points per game) – this also leads the nation.
– Florida has held three straight opponents and seven this season under 100 yards rushing.
– The Gators lead the all-time series against the Seminoles 32-19-2 with a 19-8-1 record in Gainesville, FL. UF has also won the last five consecutive meetings between the schools with a 90-27 combined margin of victory over that time span.

The Gators 2009 senior class is the winningest class in SEC history with a 46-6 record in their time in the Orange and Blue. However, that is not the only accomplishment the class has made in the last four years. The senior class has:

Three All-Americans – Five All-SEC Members – 12 SEC Academic Honor Roll Members – Two SEC Championships – Three SEC Eastern Division titles – Two National Championships – 27-5 SEC record – 25-2 record at The Swamp – 14-3 (.823) vs. ranked teams, the top winning pct. for a UF senior class – 11-1 vs. rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, Florida State and Miami) – National Defensive POY – Heisman Trophy Winner

* Markihe Anderson – #14 – CB – Fort Myers, Fla.
* Jim Barrie – #68 – OL – Tampa, Fla.
* Andrew Blaylock – #14 – QB – Durham, N.C.
* Rick Burgess – #48 – FB – Jupiter, Fla.
* Christopher Coleman – #84 – TE – Lake City, Fla.
* Riley Cooper – #11 – WR – Clearwater, Fla.
* Dustin Doe – #32 – LB – Jasper, Fla.
* Jermaine Cunningham – #49 – DE – Stone Mountain, Ga.
* Troy Epps – #98 – DT – Union, S.C.
* John Fairbanks – #59 – LS – Celebration, Fla.
* Michael Guilford – #46 – QB – Quincy, Fla.
* Corey Hobbs – #79 – OL – Oviedo, Fla.
* Cade Holliday – #22 – WR – Gainesville, Fla.
* Brandon James – #25 – ATH – St. Augustine, Fla.
* Dorian Munroe – #20 – S – Miami, Fla.
* David Nelson – #83 – WR – Wichita Falls, Texas
* Jonathan Phillips – #38 – K – Wellington, Fla.
* Wondy Pierre-Louis – #4 – CB – Naples, Fla.
* Chris Pintado – #30 – LB – Miami, Fla.
* Christopher Scott – #29 – RB – Englewood, Fla.
* Joey Sorrentino – #39 – WR – Ocala, Fla.
* Brandon Spikes – #51 – LB – Shelby, N.C.
* Ryan Stamper – #41 – LB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Tim Tebow – #15 – QB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Mike Williamson – #53 – LS – Winter Park, Fla.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. FSU Seminoles preview after the jump…

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TWO BITS: Gators, ‘Noles gear up for showdown

1 » Saturday’s Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles game carries a lot of implications. The Gators’ undefeated season and National Championship hopes are on the line. Senior quarterback Tim Tebow and more than a dozen of his teammates will be playing their last game in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Senior Day. Recruits will be in attendance from all across the country to watch both teams play. Above all else, it is the in-state rivalry and familiarity that fuels the passion behind this game. “It’s not solely that if you beat them it makes your season a success,” Tebow said, “but it helps but a smile on your face, that’s for sure.” Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper has even more motivation. “I actually have three high school teammates that play for Florida State,” Stamper said. “So it’s like playing against your friends. You really want to beat them. It’s like a love-hate thing.” Senior wide receiver David Nelson concurs. “Every time you talk to fans, every time you talk to people associated with this program, the one team they really talk about is Florida State,” Nelson said. “It’s bragging rights for a whole year, it helps your recruiting.” The Gators have owned these bragging rights for five straight years, winning its games against the Seminoles by a combined 90-27 in that time span.

2 » If Florida State plans to take down Florida on Saturday, stopping Tebow will be the first thing the defense has to do. Think doing it during the game is tough? FSU has had problems finding someone to replicate Tebow on its scout team for practices leading up to the game. “I guess we can try to find somebody,” safety Jamie Robinson said earlier in the week. “But we haven’t had anybody in the past try to get us a Tim Tebow look.”

Don’t forget: » Florida basketball (4-0) takes on the No. 2/2 Michigan State Spartans (4-0) in the first game of the 2009 Legends Classic Friday night at 8 p.m. OGGOA will have a game story up after the contest is over, though no live coverage will be offered tonight as I am attending a wedding rehearsal dinner. Weak, I know.

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FOUR BITS: Meyer to NFL? Bowden’s last trip? Tebow’s legacy. ’06 class. Hobbs quits.

1 » Speculation surrounded Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s future this week, forcing him to (for the third time in six months) declare he has no intention of coaching the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and plans to remain in Gainesville, FL. Would that declaration stop the talk of Meyer leaving? Of course not. Now we have Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com telling Gators fans that Meyer’s next destination will be the NFL and the Dallas Cowboysas soon as next year. While we here at OGGOA do believe the NFL is in Meyer’s future, we see him as the future successor to New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick…half a decade from now.

2 » While on the subject of coaching, plenty is being said about Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden this week. One article focuses on the fact that Saturday’s game will probably be Bowden’s last trip to The Swamp. “[I’ve thought about it] a little bit,” Bowden said. “Not enough to distract me. But I’ve thought about it, yeah. Thought about how this might even be the last time I’m ever in Gainesville.” Another explains how Bowden never had a chance in recruiting Florida senior quarterback Tim Tebow. “We never had a chance,” he said. “Mom and dad went there, and I remember Bob Tebow saying that since Tim was little, that he wanted to play at Florida. To me, it was cut and dried.”

3 » With Tebow closing out his career, there are four years of memories and accomplishments to look back on. The Palm Beach Post writes that Tebow will leave a strong impression on Gator Nation and the state of Florida long after he has graduated. Everyone from teammates, coaches, teachers and school officials to analysts, ministers, mothers and even Governor Charlie Christ seems to agree. For a guy’s whose career is already unparalleled, Tebow will have success in life even if it is not in the NFL.

4 » Following up on our BIT from Thursday about the massive success of the 2006 recruiting class, the Gainesville Sun has gone as far as to declare it “the greatest recruiting class in school history – and one of the greatest in the history of college football.” One member of that class is redshirt junior offensive lineman Corey Hobbs, a four-star recruit who has only seen action in 11 games in his Florida career. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting Hobbs has decided to quit the football team following this season. Hobbs, who will be honored on Senior Day along with some of his other teammates, has decided to begin law school next semester.

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