October 06, 2009
One segment of Florida State's fan base is smelling blood tonight, circling FSU's abrupt shipwreck of a season with a taste for flesh. The rest of the 'Nole nation remains in virtual meltdown mode, held hostage both by the imploding coaching situation and, even more so, the rumors and "sources" spinning off in every direction.
When Jim Smith, chair of the university's Board of Trustees, told the Tallahassee Democrat he thinks Bobby Bowden should walk away at the end of the season, he certainly wasn't putting himself out there alone: Word from Rivals' FSU editor is several major boosters, admins and other bigwigs have been huddling over the last two days ($) to put together a retirement package while Bowden met with FSU president T.K. Wetherell -- a meeting that reportedly "went about as poorly as possible," with Bowden allegedly refusing to budge on accelerating the transition to offensive coordinator/dauphin Jimbo Fisher as head coach, which might hang a longtime, loyal Bowdenite or two (read: Chuck Amato) out to dry.
Bowden's reluctance to cooperate may buy him some time -- it's less likely that there will be any official announcements this week -- but not much goodwill with the plotters of his demise. ESPN said tonight Bowden is likely to stay at least through the end of this season (there hasn't been a report I'm aware of that suggests he wouldn't at least finish the year), but only if he agrees to pass the torch to Fisher in the meantime and become more or less an official figurehead:
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will not be asked to step down this season, a source told ESPN's Shaun King on Tuesday.
A succession plan for coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher to assume greater responsibility before next season has been discussed, though, according to the source.
If Bowden stays for the 2010 season, the source said, Florida State officials want a plan in place in which Fisher would have control over the Seminoles football operations -- for example, recruiting, coaching and practice.
That is, Fisher will be the head coach, and Bowden will get to hang around, watch practices from his tower and do interviews -- basically the role everyone has assumed he's filled for years, but in an official capacity that gives Fisher some real leverage on a staff filled with veteran power brokers.
Assuming there are no earthshaking moves in public for the rest of the week, the drama will shift to Saturday night -- less on the field than in the stands, where the bloodthirstier and more impatient of the sharks will be decked out in black for a kind of wake against Georgia Tech, which threatens to turn the crowd into a war zone if things go poorly. And if things somehow go well against the Jackets, the "Bowden Blackout" crowd will have somewhat conflicted loyalties to sort out. But I'm not sure there's anything the team can do at this point to keep Bowden for ceding the keys of the kingdom.