Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The pointless debate

I've never had particularly strong feelings either way about Florida State, but I can understand the fans' frustration with Bobby Bowden. The 'Noles have been mired in mediocrity for about the last five years, and it's pretty clear that Bowden won't be pulling them out of this tailspin.

Bowden has also been Florida State's coach for 33 years and is coming off one of the most ridiculously dominant stretches in modern college football history: From 1987-2000, FSU had an overall record of 152-18, lost a grand total of two conference games (they joined the ACC in 1991, so that's 10 years of conference play) and finished in the AP top five for 14 consecutive years. That's freakin' remarkable.

Does this give him some sort of entitlement? I don't know, probably not. Nobody's really entitled to anything in coaching anymore. But this whole "Is Bobby Bowden on the hot seat?" debate is stupid.

Not only will Bowden be 80 in three weeks, but he also has a contract that expires at the end of 2010, meaning his tenure will last no more than another 14 months (and maybe only two months). And as everyone knows, FSU has already agreed to a coach-in-waiting deal with offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher that requires Fisher to be paid $5 meeellion dollars if he hasn't taken over by January 2011, so there's no question as to who will be in charge when Bowden finally decides to step down.

With those things already decided, what would be the benefit of firing Bowden right now? Fisher wouldn't be able to hire any new coaches (currently employed ones, anyway) or recruit any new players in October -- this isn't the NFL, where he could just start wheeling and dealing to rebuild deficient areas -- so it'd basically just create an awkward situation for everybody and force Fisher into an extremely difficult scenario in which he'd have to win four of his first six games in order to get FSU into a bowl. This seems less than ideal.

FSU President T.K. Wetherell might be extremely biased -- he played under Bowden in the '60s (lol) and is an admitted friend -- but I think he had the right idea when he made this statement a week ago:
"FSU does not make coaching changes in the middle of the season," Wetherell said. "What message would it send to anyone -- friend or foe -- to do that at this time?"
Yes, it sucks to be 2-4 and already out of the conference race by the middle of October. But regardless of who's in charge, nothing can be done to save this season -- it would take a miracle at this point just to get to a bowl game.

I understand the concern that if the university doesn't act now, Bowden might decide to stick around for another year and delay the coaching transition, but so what? You know who's next in line and you know Bowden's tenure will be over after this season or next, so what's the point of making everything more uncomfortable than it needs to be?

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