Coach Bobby Bowden was officially fired by Florida State University Tuesday afternoon. Yes I said fired and not retired.
Anyone close or near the Florida State program is very aware of the fact that Bobby Bowden wanted to come back for his final season in 2010. He was extremely excited about next season so much that he never even hinted at hanging up his straw hat for good; rather, he made sure Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews was appreciated in his last game.
Little did we or Bowden know Andrew's last home game would also be Bobby's.
No farewell tour, no win one for the gipper speeches, and no more straw hats.
No more "dadgummit" comments during halftime interviews, and no more post game honesty.
What the FSU Athletic Department did to Bowden was not only cruel, it was also very sad to see. It's awful enough by itself to push him out the door he built but when you start criticizing the man who has made you who you are, it is simply going to far.
Several former Seminoles players were on the radio this afternoon on ESPN760.com in South Florida, including former National Champion and Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke. Weinke, along with many other former players, is very disappointed with how everything unfolded and he specifically remembers Bobby talking about being excited for the 2010 season with so many returning players.
Not only did Bowden make a huge impact on Weinke's life in college, he still stays in touch with him now and always has something positive to say.
Weinke told a great story on the radio this afternoon and it exemplifies the very man Bowden is...
When Chris first went to FSU as a freshman, he was also very interested in playing baseball. His talent grew and the opportunity was there, Bowden's future star quarterback was leaving FSU immediately to go play minor league baseball. And not once, not even for a second, did Coach try to convince him not to go.
In fact, Bowden wished him the very best luck and said if it doesn't work out I will always hold a scholarship for you.
Several years later a now balding 24-year-old man wandered back to the FSU campus. Minor league baseball was over and Chris wanted to go back to get a degree and play football. Current Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt was Bowden's assistant at the time and he begged Bobby not to allow Weinke back because they already had a top recruit coming in to play quarterback.
And you know what happened next?
Weinke, older than most seniors on the team, asked for another chance to play football at FSU. "If I am the best player Coach, will I get to play?"
The rest is history, and Weinke said he will be forever grateful that his coach always kept his promise. That's what sets him apart from other people, he does what he says and he is always loyal to players, coaches, but most importantly, people.
When Bowden's dream job came calling, the University of Alabama, what did he do? Did he leave FSU for the big bucks and the job his mentor, Bear Bryant, had years before him?
No. He stayed. He always stayed. He was always loyal, always.
When people he cared about struggled, did he throw them under a bus and leave them there to die alone? Never, he stood by them, hand in hand,, and preached all the good they have to offer.
Old school football and old school coaches are known for their strict rules and rough intimidating mannerisms, but not good old Bobby...he is the grandpa that everyone wanted. He is the best friend you want to live next to forever. He is the golfing buddy that you know will always make you smile after a double bogey on the ninth green.
When you grab a dictionary and look up the word coach, there may not be a picture of Bobby Bowden but he is most certainly the one who defined it.
I want to thank you Coach Bowden from the bottom of my heart for all that you did for not only football but also our world. Loyalty doesn't exist anymore and people can rarely rely on a colleague to stand in front of them to take a bullet. Coach Bowden did all that and it is truly a sad day when a man who has given so much receives so little back.
The dollar bills you hand him only last a lifetime, the embarrassment and lack of loyalty you showed him lasts forever. What he did for FSU is something no other man could have done. It takes one kind of Coach. It takes one kind of person. It took Bobby Bowden.
God bless you Mr. Bowden and all you have given and for all of the class you have shown everyone, including rival teams. Thanks for the memories and thanks for always being yourself.
What is this world coming to? It is no wonder our economy is a mess, politics are nothing but a joke, and the loyalty is the most forgotten trait.
Our world needs more role models like Coach Bowden.
Our world needs more honest people like Coach Bowden.
Lastly, when you hear the world loyalty you will smile and think of people like Bobby Bowden.
His kind don't come around very often and we are likely to never see his type of loyalty again. Cherish it, remember it, learn from it.
It really is a shame that Bowden's best trait, loyalty, is also the very same thing that got him fired.