Florida State president T.K. Wetherell made the point clear enough last week, when the escalating chaos around Bobby Bowden's immediate prospects as FSU's head coach forced Wetherell to put it on the record: Bowden isn't going anywhere this season, health permitting, and there's not much point in suggesting, speculating or campaigning about it until at least December. For Bowden supporters, the subtext of that statement -- Wetherell stressed a transition plan is in place to promote offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to Bowden's chair, and that he would "make a final recommendation to the full Board of Trustees" at the end of the season -- was enough to suggest that Bowden would likely be dutifully "resigning" at year's end, or else.
After the 'Nole defense subsequently took the night off in a 49-44 loss to Georgia Tech, dropping FSU to 0-3 in the ACC -- remember, this is a program that was 70-2 in ACC games from 1992-2000 -- the coming of the golden parachute looked even more inevitable; the Bowden era, frankly, looked more over than ever. If, that is, you assume that the ultimate decision on the old coach's fate is coming from the top down. But Bowden himself, as he told CBS Sports' Tony Barnhart, is making no such assumptions:
Bowden believes, quite simply, that retirement will be on his timetable. There is a plan in place. He's working on a one-year contract; at the end of the year, Bowden will make a decision and inform President T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman.
"Right now I think you know where I'm leaning," Bowden said. "I'm leaning toward coming back [next season]."
That's the plan.
Barring a miraculous turnaround in conference games, an upset over Florida in Gainesville and an ACC Championship win in December, that will be a wildly unpopular plan across a huge swath of the FSU fan base, including a good number of the heavy hitters. A Bowden return in 2010, aside from potentially setting the 'Noles back another year in terms of recruiting and general competitiveness, would also back them right up to the wall with Fisher, who's scheduled to walk with $5 million if he's not the official boss by January 2011.
If the call is still in Bowden's hands, and he still believes he's in position to oversee a complete turnaround from the lowest point of his 34-year tenure in Tallahassee, who's to say he'd be any more likely to cede the throne in another year? What's another $5 million and a couple upset alumni when there's obviously still so much work to be done? Florida State may not have much hope remaining for the season on the field, but I think this winter is going to demonstrate pretty clearly who's pushing the buttons around there; if Bowden's suggestion is correct, he is indeed the great Caesar.
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Hat tip: CFT