Who would have thought that a coach, a legend, who is just 19 wins away from 400 would have to be defended? The very same man who has brought almost the same type of success to Tallahassee as George Steinbrenner did to New York.
Do you know what prestigious athletic schools like UCLA, Georgia, California, and Clemson (just to name a few of MANY) have in common? Each of those schools has one less NCAA football championship than Florida State does.
It's quite amazing that a big-time school in the big bad SEC only has one championship. Yet, the Bulldogs' fans are not storming the streets of Athens calling for Mark Reicht's job annually. So why then, are the Noles' fans here in Tallahassee crying that Bobby Bowden needs to retire and that he has gotten to old for today's game?
How exactly has he gotten too old to coach the game of football? The same game he has coached and won over 380 games has not changed much. In fact, last time I checked the players still play on a field with two goal posts on each side of it.
The object of the game is still to score touchdowns on the opponent while trying to stop them from scoring on your team, right? The players still wear pads, helmets, and shoes with spikes, correct? The quarterbacks still throw the ball and the receiver still tries to catch it, yes? Perhaps the only thing that has indeed changed is the expectations of the fans...and the city.
Sure, I know what you die hard fans are thinking: "Florida State has gone 22-15 the last three seasons and that is unacceptable." For who?
I do not argue that these past two seasons in particular have not been the best years for the Noles, but please spare me on the "Bowden needs to retire" lecture. The team, a failure these past two seasons according to most Noles' fans, still played in two bowl games. One of those bowl games Florida State pounded the very UCLA team that ended the USC Trojans' dynasty from continuing on just weeks before.
Then, last year Florida State met Kentucky in the Motor City Bowl with basically half of their team suspended. Did the Noles just show up to get their faces stomped on?
Instead, the half-empty roster that was Florida State showed up and nearly upset the Wildcats. I know what you are thinking again..."Kentucky? Who cares, they are a basketball school." Try telling the eventual BCS National Champion LSU Tigers that Kentucky is a basketball school. By the way, FSU profits slightly from these bowl appearances.
I understand those seasons were not what Noles' fans are used to but fans everywhere need to realize that College football goes through cycles. Teams are great one decade and the next decade they are merely a solid football team.
If Florida State was going in the wrong direction I would understand the criticism, but they're not. Fans need to realize that the guy that brought you your past high expectations is on the verge of leading you back to a whole new set of high expectations.
The criticism of Bowden does not end with their lack of wins lately; instead, Bowden takes a beating for the school's academic scandal where several of the Noles football players were caught cheating. Where is all of the criticism for the other coaches and faculty at FSU?
Why is Bowden the central blamed figure in this whole scenario? That's the easy part to figure out because without Bowden, there would be no standards. After 381 wins, two national championships, countless number of successful NFL players and a school budget millions of dollars richer and still the legend that is Bobby Bowden can't escape the negativity.
Bowden is criticized routinely when there is any off-field problems but when incredible stories like Myron Rolle (2008 Rhodes Scholarship winner) occur, where is the love, the respect, the applause he deserves? No program in the country goes one season without some sort off-field issue, but only the prestigious programs are the ones that are torn apart by the media.
If it was not for Bowden and his amiable Alabaman accent, Florida State would not be, well, Florida State. The people of Tallahassee would not know what a championship banner looks like if it was not for Bobby Bowden. While most of you are calling for Jimbo Fisher to take over for Bowden, picture this first... if Fisher goes 11-2 for the next 30 years, he will still fall nearly 50 wins short of where Bowden is now. Pretty remarkable isn't it?
Bowden is 8-3 this season and anyone who has watched the Seminoles this year knows that they are on their way back to the top. The team is young (extremely young), talented, and still learning a new offensive system.
For a man that has brought so much to a school, program, city and even the state of Florida, the least people can let him do is go off on his own peacefully and with pride. He has earned far too much on the field to be swept right off of it.
As long as the players still wear that garnet and gold and come running out of that tunnel to the sound of the war chant, Bobby Bowden will know how to coach football at Florida State.
The question is… are the fans still going to show up and support the man and team that built the expectations you all now possess?
If the answer is no, then do us all a favor and take off that garnet and gold and go put on some blue and orange. Because quite frankly, true Noles' fans don't want you around at Bobby Bowden Field anyway!