Bowden’s Anger Is A Year Too Late

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - September 01, 2010
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Bobby Bowden is upset, dad-gummit

Now we know.

Bobby got jobbed. After 34 years, 377 wins, 12 ACC championships and two national titles, the former Florida State coach was shown the door.

He’s not angry.

He said so.

But he is.

Bowden wants everyone to know that he didn’t want to retire and that it will be a cold day in Tallahassee before he and former president T.K. Wetherell sit down for a cold beer and warm tales.

He’s moved on.

But he’s still talking. Bowden assumed that his body of work would buy him as many years as he deemed appropriate.

Well, tie me to a pig and roll me in the mud, has he not been paying attention? It would seem that during his six decades in college football he would have witnessed a coach or two getting shoved onto the ranks of the unemployed once victories became harder to come by.

He’s even taken to repeating the overused “what have you don’t for me lately?” to describe his shocking dismissal as if it is the first time he has heard the sentence. No doubt he has seen such unfair labor practices, but now he’s the victim and he’s fixin’ to do something about it.

Bowden has written a book and is using the promotional tour to set the record straight about being canned following the 2009 season. After all, a bit dog will holler, and Bobby is quite the talker.

Wetherell reneged on his promise of a lifetime contract and then dared to offer the best dad gum football coach in state history some ridiculous post called an ambassador coach. Now Wetherell is paying for having the audacity to do what was right for the program. But regardless of merit, you don’t insult the alligator before you cross the stream, and the former president and Seminole football player did just that. He insulted a legend who is now madder than a mashed cat and looking for some payback. But should he be?

No doubt Bowden was hurt by the move. Who wouldn’t be? You think Joe Paterno would have left humming The Best is Yet to Come had he got the boot after going a combined 26-33 in the first five years of the new millennium? After the decades he gave the university, Bowden earned the right to a fair amount of self pity. Had he done it a year ago after his contract wasn’t renewed, his criticism would have merit. Now he just sounds bitter. An old man looking back with unresolved bitterness.

Bowden says 2010 would have been his last season. But would it have been? Money and adulation are tough drugs to kick. So is the unstated fear of following in the footsteps of an idol who eerily predicted his own demise following the completion of his own long coaching career. Paul Bryant passed away four weeks after coaching his last college football game. As Bowden was fond of saying, “After you retire, there’s only one big event left. And I ain’t ready for that.”

Bowden is a good ol’ dog, but sometimes he craps too close to the porch. His team got hit with five years of probation after the NCAA found several of his players had received free shoes and sporting goods from a local store in 1993. At the time he dismissed the criticism saying he couldn’t watch everyone. The team was again placed on probation last year after an investigation uncovered academic rules violations for which Bowden has yet to take responsibility.

There was a time when Bowden was happier than a flea on a dog. He was one of the game’s biggest stars who won over players and parents with his gosh darn charm. Those who have spent time with the legendary coach say an hour with Bobby Bowden is 60 minutes of insight, history and unforgettable wit.

If that conversation begins to take on the feel of an old time revival, there is good reason. Bowden has been spreading his message of Christianity on pulpits and platforms for years. But his current tirade against Wetherell is uglier than homemade sin and doing so is just a dime holdin’ up a dollar at this point in his life.

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