The Bobby Bowden saga and how it relates to Mark Richt

Most that come by here and comment are astute enough to keep up with the current goings on in college football, so I would assume you all are aware of the current Bobby Bowden situation at FSU.  The big news today is that the administration at FSU will not ask Bowden to step down this year.  The common belief is that there is too much uncertainty due to the pending Jimbo Fisher HC regime and who is really in charge.  Bowden has his guys such as Chuck Amato and Mickey Andrews that most believe won’t be employed at FSU once Fisher takes over.  From the last few days, it’s been pretty evident that FSU is not going to force Bowden out, but they are working on a deal with Fisher to ensure that he is going to be the coach and are going to give him the authority to make coaching personnel changes as soon as next year.  That likely would cause Bowden to become nothing more than an unofficial figurehead with no real authority should he elect to come back next year as the head coach.  Many believe Bowden already serves in this role currently, but the difference is that he still has a say over his coaching staff.

Most Dawg fans realize that the demise of the Florida State program began in 2001 when Mark Richt left and that was the first shakeup of Coach Bowden’s superb staff (Chuck Amato would soon leave for NC State as well).  I heard Colin Cowherd (who I normally despise) earlier this week on the radio this week say something to the effect of college football is the only sport where certain coaches can’t be forced out no matter how bad they are.  This linefrom Pat Forde earlier this week regarding coaches on the hot seat (granted this was in the “low heat” section) also gave me something to ponder:

Mark Richt, Georgia (3-2). Seems heretical to even mention this super-consistent winner — but Year 9 hasn’t started too splendidly, and there might be some mutual fatigue between coach and fans.

I am in no way advocating that a change regarding head coach at the University of Georgia should happen as I am on record as an adamant supporter of Coach Richt who believes he’ll leave the Georgia sideline as the winningest coach in school history.  The lack of change is inherently what has done Bowden in and made FSU an afterthought after dominating college football over a decade like we’ll probably never see again.  I just wonder where you reach the point that when change doesn’t happen, it’s bad for the program overall and your job security as head coach.  Whether TK Wetherell will admit it or not, I’d argue the main reason that Bowden is under fire is because as his program struggles, the donations coming into FSU begin dwindling.

I have always believed that Coach Richt was untouchable because he has raised Georgia football to the best run in school history and sustained it for a near full decade, the athletic association absolutely loves the guy, and donations have never been higher.  I wonder if Coach Richt can learn from this situation with Bowden and the own fire he’s been taking this year and realize that no matter how beloved you are at your school, rightfully or wrongfully so, wins and losses end up trumping all else.  Bobby Bowden went to a school that less than 30 years earlier had been an all-woman school and turned it into the model college football program winning two national titles during his tenure.  He built up so much goodwill in the state of Florida that he likely never has to pay for another meal and neither do his children (Jeff Bowden is probably the exception).  He has refused to do what Joe Paterno does and let someone else run his program that can be more involved in the day-to-day details.  You can see the difference between FSU and Penn State since around 2003/2004 when Paterno became the figurehead coach, but not the day-to-day coach.

I was in Athens last week for the LSU game, albeit I was unable to obtain a ticket.  I watched the game with a college friend of mine (former UGA kicker) and his friend (former UGA QB).  They both have made it evidently clear to me that despite the fact that everyone fires their ire at Willie Martinez, the team respects him and would run through a wall for him.  This cannot be said for Coach Fabris, however, who is despised by former players and I would assume current players.  There is something to be said for not losing your team despite some tough performances over the last 18 months.  There is also something to be said for losing your team and generally performing poorly over the same time span.  I realize that Coach Richt is a loyal man that promotes a family atmosphere.  I worry that if things don’t get better with the un-special teams play, he will be forced to make a decision that I don’t think he’s willing to make.  If the AD were to have to make that decision and supercede Coach Richt, that would be an ugly incident similar to what we’re seeing now with Coach Bowden and the AD essentially writing up the contract for Jimbo Fisher to give him complete control of the team even if Bowden comes back next year.  As I mentioned earlier, I hope this situation with Bobby Bowden will be a learning experience for Coach Richt should he have to make what is a painfully obvious decision to everyone else.

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2 responses to “The Bobby Bowden saga and how it relates to Mark Richt

  1. I’ve never claimed to be a big DiddyFreeShoes fan, but what’s happening down in Tallahassee is just plain sad. His worst mistake was hiring his son as CMRs replacement.

    Back in Athens, I had hopes this August that we wouldn’t get to the point where a line in the assistant coaches’ sand is drawn. Now it just seems to be worse. Despite the defense performing admirably of late, Martinez seems to be passed the point of enamoring himself to the fans. And Fabris is just out of control stubborn/incompetent when it comes to managing kickoffs.

    If I had to guess I would say Bowden steps down after this season with a very sour taste in his mouth. Maybe Richt will pick up the phone and give Diddy a call.

    But if I had my druthers…the Dawgs would win out and then we’d ALL be back on the same page!

  2. Excellent article and something that’s been in on my mind since 2006 when Tennessee scored 56 on us.

    Mark Richt’s business model with regard to his coaching staff follows Bobby Bowden’s. There are certainly some good points to that such as stability. On the other hand, both Mark and Bobby have opened themselves to claims that each values loyalty over competence.

    Bobby’s mind won’t change after the Ga. Tech drubbing. Mark’s mind won’t change after the Tennessee drubbing. Are they stubborn or are they committed?

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