If you are fortunate enough to live long enough and be really good at something, you may have to deal with forced retirement, just because you are perceived to be too old. I’ve never liked Florida State, or the state of Florida. I don’t like Bobby Bowden, but it is with a mix of sadness and satisfaction and historical relief that I mark his forced retirement from being the head coach of Florida State for 34 years.
It’s tough to see a living legend be forced out by the university before he felt it was his time to go. That he had bowed to the pressure of naming a head-coach-in-waiting and set off the ticking clock did him no favors.
Florida State’s “tradition” of dominance had fallen in recent years, but not nearly to the depths that his contemporary, Joe Paterno, had dealt with from 2000-2004. Over that span, Penn State was 26-33 with only one winning season and one bowl appearance.
The years 2000-2004 were tough for Paterno (who is five years older than Bobby), when had to deal with incessant retirement questions. There was talk of him being forced out. I never thought it would come to that, but that’s not to say I wasn’t worried. There was a lot of pressure on Joe, and the media and rabid, stupid fans can drive you (i.e., me) insane. I’m thankful that Penn State University had enough courage and loyalty to its legendary coach to stick with him in the fallow years. Their reward has been a 50-13 mark from 2005-2009, and yet another recruiting class (for 2010) that is rumored to be second best in the nation.
Compare Bowden’s 2005-Present, where he is 37-27, with zero losing seasons and four – soon to be five – bowl appearances, having split the previous four 2-2.
It’s a sad way to treat your living legend. I hope for a little more from Florida State. A little. On the other hand, this could also be exactly what I expected: stay classy FSU.