Bobby Bowden's Retirement and His Legacy: Great Coach or Hypocrite?

Tom KesslerCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2009

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 31:  Bobby Bowden the Head Coach of the Florida State Seminoles looks on during the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl against the Kentucky Wildcats at the LP Field December 31, 2007 in Nashville, Tennessee. Kentucky won 35-28.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Goodbye, Bobby Bowden. I wish you well.


As a Gator fan, I’ll miss you.


I’ll miss you not for what you were, but for what you’d become.


You were hard to love during your incredible run of consecutive top five finishes, national championships, and Gator beatdowns.


But six lackluster seasons of FSU mediocrity had changed me from wishing you were gone…to wishing you’d stay forever.


Were you one of the greatest coaches, Bobby—or was it your staff?


Mark Richt and Chuck Amato left for head coaching jobs at Georgia and N.C. State.


Then you brought in your son, Jeff Bowden, to dismantle the once-feared FSU offensive machine.


When it became apparent to everyone that your son was in over his head, you arrogantly allowed him to stick around.


The hiring of your son—complete with his fat contract—was the very definition of nepotism.


Not only that, but the poison pill in his contract—so that only a huge ransom paid by FSU would ensure that he’d not coach there again—was absolutely disgusting, but I loved it!


During much of your time at FSU, the national press gave you a free pass. You could say anything and do anything, and the press would not question it.


You had a charming and disarming persona, capable of nuzzling the national press into blissful hibernation.


I loathed the Bobby Bowden who would selectively mete out punishment based on a secret formula of a player's impact value, combined with the quality of the next opponent.


The national press bought it when you told them you were waiting on all the facts to come in before taking any action on any player involved in questionable activity.


You tied it into your Christian beliefs. But those not blinded by your aura, Christian or otherwise, saw right through the hypocrisy.


It was moral to not judge a player until all the facts came in (preferably after the Florida game, Miami game, or the bowl game)—but it was just football when your team was coached to hit Danny Wuerffel until the players “heard the echo of the whistle."


You might have stayed around a few more years of coaching, but along came Urban Meyer.


Meyer first beat you on the recruiting front, then on the field for five straight years. He took the best players, leaving you the scraps.


Then, he out-muscled your flat, lifeless teams for five beautiful years.


The cumulative work that you’ve done, Coach Bowden, will far outstrip the final dismal years and the futility that was FSU football during your final coaching days.


May you go on to live a long and wonderful life with your large, adoring family and your many friends.


I’m sure that we’ll be seeing you on future telecasts of big games—the national press still adores you.


And if you ever get the urge to come back and coach, please do—as long as it's for a team that Florida will play every year.