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