Bowden's Relief

By Adam Caparell - April 22, 2008


This spring, there's no sense of impending doom for Bobby Bowden and no reason to worry about how his future at Florida State will unfold. Rather, there's a feeling of relief from the 78-year old Seminoles coach with his succession plan firmly in place.

Florida State announced back in December that offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher would take over for Bowden, the winningest coach in Division I-A history, when he decides to call it a career. And while your guess is as good as anyone's as to when Bowden makes that decision, we do know he'll hang it up within the next five years because he doesn't want to coach past his 83rd birthday.

"I think it's a plus all the way. I never thought about such a thing," Bowden said of the university's decision. "But when you get to my age, I've always signed five year contracts and this year I did not. I'm on a one year basis and every year I'll let 'em know if I want to coach another year."

Fisher, who joined Bowden's staff from LSU back in January 2007 and replaced Bowden's son Jeff, signed a new deal with the university in December that put the succession plan in writing.

"Naturally people wonder how will that work," Bowden said. "I'm still the head football coach, nothing has changed there. But as I've looked at the end of my career, you wonder how are you going to retire, how are you going to resign because other coaches lose their jobs. And that's not as easy as it sounds. I think this has helped solved that."

And when Bowden makes his ultimate decision, he believes that most of his assistants would keep their jobs based on the familiarity they will have having working with Fisher for several years.

"It has been a relief for me," Bowden said.

It's also relief for Bowden knowing his team is much more familiar and comfortable with the bevy of new assistants he brought in to revamp the program following the end of the 2006 campaign. Fisher headlined the almost entirely new offensive staff that Bowden hired after a disappointing 2006, but all the changes didn't exactly net the desired results in 2007. And it all started with spring practice.

"Last year at spring training, the kids didn't know these new coaches and the coaches didn't know the boys," Bowden said. "We put in a new offense and they didn't know the offense. They didn't know the terminology. This spring was entirely different."

Familiarity reigned supreme and predictably Bowden liked what he saw from his team over the 15 spring practices. Quarterback Drew Weatherford did hurt his knee and missed the end of spring practice, but Weatherford should be fine for the fall. Bowden said that if it were the regular season, Weatherford probably would have missed at most one game with torn cartilage in his right knee.

But Weatherford's absence was a positive in a sense that it give backups Christian Ponder, who manned the first team offense, and D'Vontrey Richardson, a big-time athlete, the chance to take some much needed snaps under center.

"They were able to get a lot of work," Bowden said. "That's what they needed. They needed at-bats. Drew's been a four-year starter and he's probably one of the few guys who could afford to miss spring practice."

Richardson is the name to watch. A very talented dual-threat quarterback, it won't be long before Seminoles fans are clamoring to see him under center.

Plus-One Talk: Plus-One was on the minds of several ACC coaches Tuesday and opinions predictably varied among several of the conference's top names.

The commissioners from each of the six BCS conferences will be meeting in Florida next week and any future alterations to the BCS format will be on the table for discussion. The Plus-One format, where an extra BCS game would be played to determine the national champion, will undoubtedly be on the agenda.

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer is one coach who would favor a change in the current BCS format.

"I think we need that," Beamer said. "When you're dealing with four teams as a possibility it gets more exact. I go back to the year we played Auburn in the Sugar Bowl (2005) and Auburn was undefeated and they certainly deserved a chance at the national championship. Then after having played them I'm quite convinced they deserved a chance at that national championship."

Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden supports a Plus-One as well.

"The Plus-One has most of the coaches' attention," Bowden said. "Because it looks like right now that nobody has a concrete answer on what to do that this is the next step that would get us to a true national champion."

Bowden definitely doesn't want to see any sort of multi-team playoff - like a 16-team tournament - anytime soon, but he is open for some changes.

"Whether it's the perfect answer, I don't know if it is yet, but it's a least a step closer," he said.

On the other hand, the elder Bowden likes things the way they are.

"I'm from the old school," Bobby Bowden said. "I'll take it the way it is. I don't want anything to mess up our bowl system."

Posted by Adam Caparell at 12:41 PM on April 22, 2008
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