Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Remembering Ole Bobby

Those of us who are under the age of 45 probably know Bobby Bowden as the big southern old man who has wandered the Florida State sideline since the dawn of time.

He's had success, but Florida State has fallen on hard times lately and they're currently the third place team in their own state. It's time for ole Bobby to step down and let go.

Yet, I think a lot of people don't give Bowden enough credit for what he did at Florida State. Sure, you hear announcers fondling themselves as they talk about how awesome Bowden is and he has two National Championship rings to prove he had some success, but that's just the tip of iceberg for accolades he should receive as a football coach. To fully appreciate Bobby Bowden, you have to go back to the beginning.

Florida State wasn't a terrible team in the early 1970's. They finished a few times in the top 25, but the team was never a real threat to win a title. The Seminoles had only won one bowl game and the school still had that stigma of being an all girls school until World War II.

It takes an intrepid coach to build up a football program without a built in history to recruit players. Bowden arrived in 1976 and proceeded to build one of the powerhouse programs in college football.

After a modest 5-6 start in 1976, Bowden changed Florida State into a perennial Top 25 team, but it wasn't until the early 80's when the Seminoles turned into the powerhouse we remember them as. Starting in 1982, the Noles have been to bowl game every single year and they didn't lose a bowl game until they lost the National Championship game to Florida in 1996. The team finished in the Top 5 of the polls every single year between 1987 and 2000. Unreal.

Bowden had his troubles. The Miami Hurricanes came into prominence (many people including myself think they did so very illegally) in the early 1980's and proceeded to ruin many a Florida State championship run. Other times the Noles would lose an early game to a lesser opponent and derail their season. There's a reason Bowden only has two championship rings despite all of his success.

Then there are some of the off-field problems Florida State players have had. There was the Dillard's scandal where Florida State receivers Peter Warrick and Laveranues Coles were arrested for grabbing a bushel of clothes for practically nothing. Coles was kicked off of the team while Warrick, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate, was only suspended for two games despite being more involved than Coles. Bowden admitted that the team was in a title hunt and he didn't feel they could win without Warrick. Nice double standard there.

Then there is the giant academic scandal still under investigation where athletes from several Florida State sports teams cheated on exams. Bowden might have to forfeit some of his wins as football coach as a result.

Those issues seem to be at the forefront these days has Bowden steps down at Florida State. While they shouldn't be swept under the carpet, I think we need to look at Bowden's total body of work to realize just what college football has lost today.

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