The Name Game At FSU

Jeff Bowden finally did the right thing by announcing his resignation — effective at the end of the regular season — as Florida State University’s offensive coordinator. But it wasn’t the honorable thing. That had to be done a few years ago – when it was apparent he was in over his head and could have saved his dad, head coach Bobby Bowden, national notoriety as well as the embarrassing wrath of incensed bloggers, disgruntled boosters and outraged alums.

When you devise a one-of-a-kind, nepotism workaround for an employee – one who had not otherwise earned his position but makes more than $140,000 a year – nothing good can ultimately come of it. Nothing did.

Jeff Bowden, of course, hasn’t been the lone reason for FSU’s fallen fortunes, but he’s no mere scapegoat. And others will likely follow. Only they won’t leave with a $537,500, five-year (garnet and) golden parachute, courtesy of Seminole Boosters.

On balance, good call, coach. Finally.

And speaking of 77-year-old Bobby Bowden, despite the tougher times, many observers and pundits have maintained that he has more than earned the right to call his own shot in terms of stepping down. This is an understandable, well-intentioned but misplaced priority.

All the wins, all the championships and all the national prestige and revenues have been commensurately rewarded with handsome 7-figure salaries, bonuses, TV deals and even a statue and a field named in his honor. But the fact remains irrefutable; he’s just a coach, albeit a very successful one, in the context of higher education. It’s hardly the academy’s highest calling. And there have been times, lest we forget, when Bobby looked the other way on matters academic – such as Dion Sanders playing in a bowl game after he had stopped going to classes.

If we were talking about a distinguished professor who had won a Nobel Prize or discovered a cure for a fatal disease, this call-your-own-shot conversation would be a no-brainer. In fact, the question would be a rhetorical one.

But we’re talking about a football coach, even if his name is Bobby Bowden and his victories outnumber everybody else’s. The Bobby Bowdens – and the Joe Paternos – are not bigger than their universities.

Dadgummit, they just aren’t.

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