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Entries in Bobby Bowden (3)


College Football Notebook: Aug. 22

College Football Notebook

Preseason Rankings, Playoff Logic And Gambling -- Oh My!

One Great Season

Now that Boise State and TCU are enjoying their best preseason rankings ever, everyone loves talking about how important the August rankings are.

Oh, really? Perhaps you heard about Cincinnati, which was one slow Dallas second away from playing for a national championship last year. The Bearcats began the 2009 season unranked in both polls.

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Coaches Can Learn From Colleagues' Missteps

Urban Meyer

One Great Season

BROOKLYN -- Five coaches were at the center of five different types of embarrassments since November, and if any of their colleagues owns a television, then there's no excuse for such missteps to be repeated in the near future.

Most recently, Urban Meyer's family-first flip-flop initially turned the college football world upside down. Many admired the strength of a high-profile sports figure to swallow a dose of perspective and step down while at the top of his game.

Then Meyer slept on it, supervised a sizzling Gators workout and had a change of heart. Perhaps his family isn't as important to him as he'd stated just the night before.

Brian Kelly

Three weeks ago, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly surprised nobody when he left the 12-0 Bearcats to take the job he'd long coveted at Notre Dame. After being named as a possible Charlie Weis replacement since early in the 2008 season, the usually PR-savvy Kelly had plenty of time to devise a healthy exit strategy. And even though Cincinnati fans couldn't blame him for taking arguably the best opportunity in coaching, they'll all agree that Kelly could have handled that situation far better than he did.

Also around that time, Florida State decided once and for all that Bobby Bowden was not going to return for another season. The school that once had no chair in the musical world of college football eventually kept a seat at its head table for most of Bowden's 34 years in Tallahassee. But the last few seasons were disappointing by the standards FSU had set for itself ... thanks to no one more than Bowden.

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Bowden caught plenty of criticism -- much of it deserved -- for not knowing when to step down on his own, but he wanted to keep coaching and the university that he helped make rich finally pushed him out the door. No ceremony, no formal announcement that would end with ovations, tears and hugs. Just a press release handed out at the weekly news conference. Stay classy, T.K. Wetherell.

That same week, Mark Mangino, who made Kansas football matter in the Big 12 in recent years, resigned two weeks after the school announced publicly that it would investigate charges that the coach physically and verbally abused some of his players.

Now I have no problem with old-school, Bobby Knight-style discipline. There used to be a time when a coach was able to grab or push a player to emphasize a point. But this is 2009 and our soft culture no longer allows for that, and some of the things Mangino is alleged to have said were about as classy as, well, T.K. Wetherell's absence from Bobby Bowden's final press conference.

If you want proof that it's difficult to be a disciplinarian, just ask South Florida coach Jim Leavitt. Bulls administrators began an investigation into his conduct recently after a player's father told AOL Fanhouse that Leavitt physically abused his son. But the player in question, Joel Miller, told ESPN that Leavitt didn't hurt him.

"He only grabbed my shoulder pads to motivate me," Miller told Joe Schad. After Miller was quoted in the report, his father backed off his own original comments.

And who will forget Tommy West's November meltdown? At his farewell press conference, the Memphis coach pleaded for better support and encouragement from the school, its fans and even the local media. Sure coaching can be rough and you are under the microscope, but isn't that the nature of the business? Your generous contract typically brings certain expectations, and if you don't meet them, you get fired. To West's credit, he did take the Tigers to five bowl games in six years, so perhaps West was hoping for some leniency. Which of course he did not get.

What lessons can be learned here? Other than "Don't get into coaching," I'd say the rules that apply to life also apply in coaching. Be honest, mean what you say, do your best and keep things in perspective. Pretty simple, right?


Bobby Bowden Needs To Go

One Great Season

BATON ROUGE, La. -- I lived in Louisville during the Denny Crum ouster. It didn't bother me at all. He needed to go.

Now I'm among the more sensitive sports fans in that I don't typically shout for the firing of a coach or demand the benching of a quarterback. If I do need to express such thoughts, I try to present my argument logically and politely. It's possible to do, though if you listen to faceless sports talk radio callers or read anonymous blog commenters you'd hardly know it.

YOUR THOUGHTS: When should a legendary coach step down?

But I do believe it's OK to call for old coaches to step down without being insensitive. Despite the hate that spews forth in the aforementioned forums, our culture also possesses a soft side that stretches toward the other extreme. We're often too dainty when we talk about old people or really any group. Sensitivity and inclusion are overrated.

With all that said, however, it's time for Bobby Bowden to step down. Losing winnable games has become commonplace in Tallahassee the last seven or eight years. Someone not named Bowden usually gets cut after two or three such seasons, but certainly the man who built the program gets a longer leash.

Now should FSU Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Smith have questioned Bowden publicly like he did? Of course not.

But misguided free speech notwithstanding, stubborn old Bobby needs to take his suitcase of memories and call it a career. He turned Florida State's program into a powerhouse and nobody will deny that, but such a body of work does not guarantee lifetime employment. The day after his team visits Clemson next month, he'll turn 80.

The world of college football is a far different place now than it was when Coach Bowden edged toward the last layer of his prime a decade ago. The 2009 season, the one that's off to a 2-3 start, needs to be Bowden's last year in charge of the Seminoles.