FSU coach, legend Bobby Bowden retires

By Adam Silverstein
November 30, 2009

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


  1. NCherry says:

    Thanks for this balanced reflection. You portrayed the moment between Tebow and Bowden better than ESPN or anyone else has and use it to make the truth crystal clear. Tebow has way more grace and class than many, sure, but it’s sad that FSU power players far older than he can’t at least fake it. Kudos.

  2. Florida State should do their best to keep Bowden around – he would do well for them in any capacity

  3. Thank you for the comment, NCherry.

  4. Story has been updated.

  5. G8rGrl says:

    I personally find it offensive that Bowden has been offered an Emeritus position. You’re good enough for us to use your reputation and name to kiss babies and raise $$ but you’re not good enough to be on the sidelines where he loves.

    Here’s an idea…ESPN needs to hire Bowden as an Gameday Analyst. He’s articulate and witty and has a ton of insight to the game. We already have Dr. Lou can we have Chief Bobby too? I personally would be entertained to see these 2 icons debate who’s going to win! :o) Bobby, you are a class act and you deserved a farewell tour not a shove out the door after a bowl game.

  6. gatormiami says:

    Sorry adam, Bobby has taken FSU from a national contender to mediocrity. We used to chant”It’s great to hate Florida State.” Not anymore! He’s overstayed his usefulness by a decade… He can’t recruit anymore & his Seminoles can’t compete. This has gone on so long that it’s very possible that Jimbo may suffer the consequences and never be a winner at Florida State.

    I don’t like the Florida Girl’s School, but they were a national contender! I realized that Bowden’s time to go had arrived just last Saturday. When your proud program has the ball on the 2 yd line… 4th and goal trailing 30-0 with 15 minutes remaining & your icon of a coach decides to kick a field and get on the board. Time to go Bobby!

  7. gatormiami – That is fair criticism. But none of that means he should go out without the dignity and respect he deserves.

  8. gatormiami says:

    Some people will never admit that it’s time to retire. He’s 80 yrs old & should have already realized that it was time to go. Yeah, Bobby could compete with Joe Pa, but FSU doesn’t play in the Little Eleven Conference & can’t competing with UF & the rest of the College Football world for 5 Star recruits. FSU can’t lure top talent anymore & another hang-on year for Bowden only makes matters worse. He deserved a heroe’s exit at age 75…or 76 or 77…too late now. Past time to go Bobby …. Jimbo isn’t likely to be successful either! Too much time as an unsuccessful #2 man….

  9. Drew 4 Orange and Blue says:

    Bowden said himself back in 2002 he wouldn’t take the program backwards and he would know when it was time to walk away….well guess what he was wrong on both fronts…..they have been trying privately to get him to retire for several years and it just got to a point he forced their hand….good for us he hung around about 7-8 years too long!!!!! Go GATORS!!!!

  10. It is never too late for a proper farewell. However, I agree with your last point about Fisher likely not having success. What has he done for them in the three years he’s already been there?

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