Has Bobby Bowden Lost Control of the Program?

Over the past five years, Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden and his close friend, Penn State coach Joe Paterno have not only battled for the most major college football wins, but they have also battled boosters, analysts and the media, who has questioned whether or not the game has passed them by.

FSU coach Bobby Bowden has not had much to smile about lately (google images)

FSU coach Bobby Bowden has not had much to smile about lately (google images)

While Penn State has turned the corner the past few years, in part, thanks to an Orange Bowl victory over FSU in 2005, Bowden’s Seminoles have taken a turn for the worse.  Last weekend’s loss to Boston College put FSU’s 2009 record at 2-3, the worst start for Bowden since 1983.

Doak Campbell Stadium, which saw the ‘Noles go undefeated in 54-straight home games in the 90’s has dropped to a very mediocre 14-10 at in the last 24 home games, with many of those wins coming from inferior opponents such as Western Carolina, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Jacksonville State to name a few.

What is more disturbing than the rapid decline of the win totals might be the dysfunction of the coaching staff.  Rumors have been swirling for a while now, but they have escalated recently.  Most rumors suggest a rift between the offensive coaching staff and the defensive staff.

In 2007, it was announced that offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher, was the “Head Coach in Waiting.”  At the time, the move was not only necessary for Florida State to keep Fisher from leaving for a different head coaching position, but it also allowed FSU to provide a sense of stability to potential recruits who were unsure what the future held at FSU.

The combination of Fisher’s title (and future) combined with a seasoned defensive coordinator who is set in his ways (Mikey Andrews) and the hiring of fired NC State coach, Chuck Amato has developed into the perfect storm. 

While the team and athletic department will not confirm anything, there definitely appears to be a disconnect on the Seminole coaching staff.  And Bowden acting as more of a figurehead instead of the leader of the program has allowed the disconnect to turn into an outright division in the staff of Fisher and the new offensive coaches (OL coach Rick Trickett, TE coach James Coley and WR coach Lawrence Dawsey) on one side, and Bowden’s contingents on the other.

How bad has it gotten?  For the first time, FSU’s Board of Trustees is calling for Bowden’s resignation at the end of this season.  The Chairman of the Board, Jim Smith, said on Monday, “I know the coaches are snipping at each other, and that’s just terrible.”

Smith went on to say, “I love Bobby Bowden, but I tell you what, I love FSU more.”

Either way, it appears there could be some answers in the near future.  Some outlets are suggesting possible changes and/or plans for these changes as early as this Wednesday.

If these changes are not made soon, FSU’s recruiting efforts, especially on the defensive side of the ball, can and will continue to suffer.  The ‘Noles already lost the commitment of stud defensive end, Corey Miller from Byrnes High School in South Carolina to Tennessee.  On the same weekend, they also lost Miller’s teammate, defensive lineman Brandon Willis, who was once considered a strong FSU lean before he followed suit and committed to Lane Kiffin’s Vols a few weeks ago.

If the necessary changes are made on FSU’s staff and they are announced quickly, the ‘Noles may be able to stop the bleeding.  If not, Jimbo Fisher may be inheriting a program with little to no defensive talent when he finally gets the reigns.

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