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    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Burning Question: When Is It Time?

    Florida Times-Union sports columnist Gene Frenette wrote a column on Monday titled Time Is Right For Bowden's Last Season. In the column he makes the case for next year being Bobby Bowden's last year. The burning question is when is the time for Bobby Bowden to retire? Of course FSU fans, alumni, and boosters are divided in regard to the question. I asked a few followup questions of Gene and he was kind enough to answer them for our FSU It's Time blog.

    1. Your column accurately depicted the divide among fans regarding Bobby Bowden and when he will leave. I have read a lot of posts on message boards and elsewhere from Bobby Bowden supporters that say they do not care how many games he loses as long as he continues as head coach. Do you have any insight in regard to that point of view?

    My only thought if that's indeed true is that fans who have that point of view feel so indebted to Bowden that they feel he deserves carte blanche to coach as long as he wants. At 78-years-old in this type of job, that's simply not logical. Being a head football coach at a major school is a massive job with a lot of pressure. There's a reason why you don't see anybody in their 70s doing this kind of work. It's simply too much to ask of anyone in Bowden's age bracket.

    2. You mentioned in your column the obvious competition for most wins among Bowden and Joe Paterno. At one time, Bobby Bowden said that wasn't an issue but he has all but admitted that it is now a goal of his. Should we as fans or the university support a personal goal such as this at the expense of the overall program?

    Of course not. There's no real difference to a school having the No. 1 coach in all-time wins versus the No. 2 coach in all-time wins. It's not going to make donations to the school go up or cause football recruits to choose one over the other. It's simply a number of distinction on a coach's resume. Nothing more, nothing less. The overall good of the program is to have the best possible coach in place so that program can reach its full potential. With a 12-12 ACC record the last three years and losing to Florida four consecutive seasons, that's not happening with the Seminoles right now.

    3. I have also heard it said that we as FSU alumni and fans "owe" Bobby Bowden and therefore he should be able to stay as long as he wants. Do you agree with that statement and why or why not.

    I've already addressed this to some degree. I would say that mentality might be applicable 10 years ago when Bowden was only 68 and still pulling off top-five rankings every season, but not after seven years of either mediocrity or just OK results. Even the most successful CEOs, after a period of decline that was preceded by phenomenal success, don't get a free pass forever. And it's not like Bowden is in his mid-50s. Every great leader has an expiration date on effectiveness and it's not always easy to determine exactly when that point is with everybody. But at Bowden's age, I think it's more than fair to say that he past his prime a long time ago.

    4. It is now being reported that FSU will designate Fisher as the successor in waiting. How tenable of a situation do you see this?

    If this is true, and my understanding is it hasn't been confirmed, then it's a terrible position for FSU to put itself in. What has Jimbo Fisher done to merit having any assurance of being Bowden's successor? The team went 7-5 in his first season as offensive coordinator, which is very Jeff Bowden-ish. I'm not saying Fisher isn't a good coordinator, but jobs as prestigious as head coach at FSU should be earned on merit. Fisher's credentials right now don't even suggest to me that he should be a serious candidate. Now if the FSU offense comes to life next season and they win 10 games, then you can start talking about Fisher being in the loop to succeed Bowden.

    5. USAToday just came out with its annual survey of college football salaries. The average salary is now over $1 million a year. I have been very critical of this escalation in salaries. What is your opinion regarding this ?

    We still live in a capitalistic system. If that's what the market bears for a Division I head football coach, then I don't have a problem with it. It doesn't mean that a football coach's job is more important than the dean or other administrators, it just means that there's a lot more money riding on the success or failure of that coach. When you get 60,000 people paying to listen to academic lectures, then those professors can start earning those six and seven-figure salaries.

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