Wow—it has been a quite a rough patch for Bobby Bowden the past four years.
2006: Watching his son forced out of the OC position.
2007: Having to deal with the cheating scandal of several athletes.
2008: Watching another son become fired from a prestigious program.
Spring 2009: Being told by the NCAA that he will lose 14 wins due to the cheating scandal.
Fall 2009: Beginning his worst season since his first at FSU with a 2-4 record after expectations for the season were high.
During this string of negative developments it has been evident that Bowden has really become more of a figurehead than a coach. He is still a great recruiter, he still coaches and lectures players during practices, and he still makes certain crucial calls during games, but he is no longer the overbearing presence of leadership. So exactly who is?
FSU has four other "head" coaches—Chuck Amato (Executive Head Coach), Mickey Andrews (Associate Head Coach), Jimbo Fisher (Head Coach-in-waiting), and Rick Trickett (Assistant Head Coach).
From what media sources have gleaned, Amato and Andrews have more actual power than the other two, and when dissent has arisen, they win the decision. This is likely attributed to the fact that they have coached with Bowden much longer.
However, the defensive coaches arguing with offensive coaches will terribly hamper this team if it exists, and despite Amato's denial of a recent incident, it likely has been occurring.
The fact that the defensive coaches have more say right now is the major issue, because the defense has not been performing, unlike the offense which is averaging over 400 yards and 30 points per game right now. In a time where their program is under fire, the staff needs to be unified in its approach.
Many have called for Bowden to retire after the season. Despite the fact that he has not provided much of an asset, and has occasionally looked embarrassingly helpless in recent moments, trying to force him out will do more damage than good presently.
A firing debacle will result in a tarring of both Bowden and FSU's legacy, and a foul taste in fan's mouths for a long time. Shots will be fired at both sides and betrayal will be accused on both parts.
This will only create negative media attention and national perception which will further hamper recruiting and possible staff hirings, as FSU will appear a black hole with no bright future in sight.
Instead, Florida State's administration needs to continue along the path of making Jimbo Fisher head coach by promoting him and giving him more control for the 2010 season. His work with the offense lately has been superb, and he has finally given FSU a solid QB in Christian Ponder.
His recruiting has been stellar—he is largely responsible for the past two year's top-ten recruiting classes. In fact one of the top DEFENSIVE contributors this year, Greg Reid, is freshman recently recruited by Fisher.
Giving Fisher more power will make the transition much smoother for FSU, and will help recruiting as Fisher will strengthen the appearance of FSU's future. If he is in charge than there should be less collision with him and the defensive coaches and decisions should be made with less of a struggle.
Besides strengthening Fisher's position, three other actions must be taken to solidify FSU's coaching future. First, the exit plan for Bowden has to be set in stone. Either Bowden has to retire after this season, declare he will retire after the 2010 season, or some sort of extension has to be worked out with Jimbo Fisher and his contract to become Head Coach if Bowden does not retire.
Because no one wants to see another debacle if things aren't resolved by the time January 2011 rolls around. That will only result in more embarrassment and lost money for the program.
The second is that FSU must make it a point of emphasis to make sure Rick Trickett stays in Tallahassee. His rebuilding of the FSU offensive line has yield much improvement, and he must be kept if this team is to continue its offensive success.
While Jimbo Fisher will serve as the leader of FSU football, Trickett is the fiery drill sergeant presence that this team needs to keep its discipline. While there is no doubt that Fisher can get in his player's faces, few in the NCAA do it better and to more effect than the former Marine Trickett.
Trickett also has a remarkable knack for finding less recruited prospects that turn into phenomenal players, as only one of the starters on the young-yet-talented offensive line was rated higher than a three star prospect.
The last issue that appears very pressing right now is the defense. The talent is there- guys like Nigel Bradham, Nigel Carr, Jacobbi McDaniel, and Greg Reid all show immense potential and talent. The problem is the failure to prevent big plays and the failure to operate as a unit.
Mickey Andrews no longer seems to be the coach he once was. I can't fault him too much- after all he's been coaching for 20+ years, he has had to deal with a major family death recently, and I'm not sure he wanted to coach this year considering Bowden had to beg him to come back.
Unfortunately things have gone very poorly for his unit this year, due failure to adjust to new offenses, namely the spread, and lack of consistency from the players, most notably the secondary. Unfortunately the defense will likely not be solved this season.
The defensive staff will likely undergo a major overhaul after 2009. Andrews will almost assuredly be gone, as I doubt he really wanted to be here this season. As for his replacements, there are several options. Chuck Amato is one, though the way things have headed south for the elders of this staff I doubt he stays if Andrews and Bowden are on their way out, and Jimbo starts to take control.
Odell Haggins is one coach who has been with the staff for a very long time and has a good relationship with the program. As Defensive Line coach he has built some solid front fours in his time at FSU. He is, in my opinion, the best option within the staff, and should remain on the staff regardless of who else leaves, along with DE coach Jody Allen.
Outside the program there are several options. FSU could attempt to lure Kevin Steele back, who was the linebacker's coach before Amato returned in 2007. He has since served as DC at Alabama under Nick Saban for two years and is currently the DC at Clemson. He would be a tough prospect to lure. Other coaches FSU could look at could be Greg Hudson of ECU, or maybe Tyrone Nix of Ole Miss.
If FSU wants a veteran, a guy I wouldn't overlook trying to get would be Wally Burnham of Iowa State, better known for his time at USF, which he left at the end of the 2008 system.
He built the defensive line that tortured FSU earlier this system, and he is exceptional in his knowledge of defending the spread offense, as he was known to dictate his defense to counter Pat White when they played West Virginia. He is former local who knows how to recruit the area, and he would be my top target to get as the new defensive coordinator for FSU.
Hope you guys enjoy my take on this situation. These are just my hopes for the 2010 season. I see the necessary talent already on the team, it is the technique, passion and leadership that appear to be missing, and with the right coaches that can be fixed. This gives me hope that this situation will be rectified.
It has been a rough season for us Nole fans, but the night is darkest before the dawn...Keep up the war chant and support our guys for 2009, cause we know they need it.
GO NOLES! >>>>-------));->>