Bobby Bowden, the Florida State Seminoles and the end of an era

Thanksgiving is a special time of year.  It’s a holiday when family and friends gather round the dinner table and give thanks for everything they have.  Back in the day, I used to dread that time of year for it meant the annual meeting between Florida and Florida State. 


warrick-dunnNow all is good. Florida has beaten Florida State soundly the last five times they’ve played by a combined score of 165-61.  But back in the 1990s when the Gators were trying to solidify themselves as a national power, they would be brought back down to earth with a swift, tomahawk chop.  Warrick Dunn, Charlie Ward, Derrick Brooks, Deion Sanders, Tamarack Vanover wore the garnet and gold with pride.  They were bad ass.


Florida went nearly twenty years without a win in Tallahassee.  Steve Spurrier never won there in six tries. 


In 1994, perhaps the most painful Gator ‘loss’ of them all, Florida State came back from a four touchdown deficit IN THE FOURTH QUARTER to tie the game 31-31.  We watched that game in disbelief, knowing all along the outcome was inevitable.  After the game, Bowden was asked why he didn’t go for the two-point conversion and the win.  Bowden smirked at the reporter and responded confidently in his southern drawl that his boys had played too hard to risk losing the game.  Everybody knew the Seminoles had won that day despite what the scoreboard said. 


Sure, Florida got its occasional victory, including the biggest game played between the two, the 1997 Sugar Bowl, but wins were few and far between. 


Simply put, Florida State owned Florida.  Not so much anymore. 


Which brings us to present-day Bobby Bowden.


fuck-the-noles-2Hey, I’m no Seminole.  In fact, I’m the anti-Seminole.  But it’s clear to see the football program is a shell of its former self.  Florida State no longer strikes fear into its opponents as it once did.  No disrespect to South Florida who totally outplayed Florida State on Saturday, but they were 14 point underdogs.  There is NO reason Florida State should lose that game in the manner they did.  Florida State was out-hustled, out-played, out-smarted and out-desired.  The gathering of green-shirted, Bulls fans reduced the tomahawk chop to a dull murmur.  Who would have thought?


Bobby Bowden has forgotten more about football than I will ever know.  But Florida State hasn’t won a meaningful bowl game since Michael Vick was still in college.  If it’s true, as many people speculate, that Bobby Bowden is still coaching to try to compile more career wins than Joe Paterno, which I personally don’t believe to be true, then that is not reason to just hang around.  The program is suffering.


BJ Daniels, a two-sport athlete FROM Tallahassee, went un-recruited by Florida State.  This is the same BJ Daniels who passed for 215 yards and two touchdowns against the Seminoles on Saturday, the same BJ Daniels who rushed for 126 yards against Mickey Andrews’ defense.  The same BJ Daniels, a freshman, who on one Tallahassee afternoon showed the poise and leadership that senior quarterback Christian Ponder hasn’t showed on that field in four years.


Why didn’t Florida State pursue Daniels, who probably would have signed as soon as Coach Bowden walked into his living room?  Only Florida State knows for sure.  But watching him Saturday, Daniels looked exactly like the kind of kid Florida State used to make famous.  The crafty kid who could dismantle an opponent not only with his arm and his legs, but with his mind and his will.  Now Daniels wears USF green and there wasn’t a Seminole in the stands who wouldn’t have preferred him in garnet.  Heck, half of them probably would trade Bowden for Jim Leavitt at this point.


bobby-bowden-statue1Who’s to say what will become of BJ Daniels or the Florida State program?  Daniels might turn out to be a bust.  Bowden might turn things around.  But it sure didn’t look that way on Saturday.  The USF team that faced the Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium dominated the line of scrimmage from start to finish.  They were simply the better team.  That’s coaching, talent and desire, three things the Seminoles apparently don’t have anymore.


Bowden patrolling the sidelines is good for Gator fans.  I haven’t worried about that game in years.  Thanksgiving is enjoyable again. 


Coach Bowden has put countless college football players into the NFL.  He’s won two national championships.  He built the program.  He’s the very reason the team is held to such a high standard.  He’s earned the right to leave when he wants.  Or has he?  No one man is bigger than the program, even if the stadium he coaches in bears his name.  He made the program what it is today, but it also made the program what it is today… an average team at best.  These are not the Seminoles of old.  The talent isn’t there and someone has to be held accountable.  Bowden will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time but remaining on the sidelines as nothing more than a figurehead might just be doing the school more harm than good.

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45 Replies to “Bobby Bowden, the Florida State Seminoles and the end of an era”

  1. I remember that pix (you & the Native American statue). Never knew it would come in so handy. 🙂 You’re tooooo funny.

  2. You know it’s a healthy hate for the program when you make faces and give the finger to an inanimate object.

    I’d have myself checked out but I’m pretty sure most Seminole fans feel the same way about us.

  3. I kinda hard to pull for one of the two Florida teams when they play each other being I am from Florida. But for some reason I do favor the Gators.

  4. When you watch Bobby Bowden on the side line you have to ask yourself, does he know what day it is? Does he even know he is on the side line? FSU needs a young, progressive head coach like a Meyer or Stoops. Bobby is a figure head who had his day, let’s move on FSU, give Bobby his due and work on building the future instead of living in the past!

  5. Jeff… Very well said.

    I tried really hard to write this post and say something like ‘the game has passed him by,’ but that may be true.

    Hey, Florida had to kiss a frog (Zook) before landing a prince (Meyer). Whether Fisher is the right choice as successor, we’ll eventually find out.

    But if he doesn’t pan out, that school should essentially be able to pick and choose whoever it wants to lead the program into the future.

    Heck, ya never know, Richt’d probably come back if the timing were right.

  6. Dadgummit Rev, I like Bobby, but it’s time for him to let go. He put Florida State on the map, but the program is now in serious trouble. It is time to clean house in Tally.

    Take care bro, see ya!

  7. Chris

    If it comes to having to make a choice of watching the ‘noles or perhaps having to watch paint dry of even Rosie O’Donnell mount a stripper pole. Then in a discerning order it’d be ‘…. paint dry, O’Donnell mount the stripper pole and lastly ‘noles’ football.’ It’s become that bad at this moment in time !

    Alan Parkins

  8. Chris,

    While I agree with a lot that you say, I must respectfully disagree with your conclusion that no one man is bigger than his program. In most cases I would agree with you but in a select few cases (Florida State being one of them)I do think that the Head Coach is bigger than the program.

    When a program has history, coaches are brought in to be caretakers of that legacy. Saban at Alabama, Meyer at Florida, Mack Brown at Texas, Rich Rod at Michigan, etc… In my opinion these coaches can never be bigger than the program because they did not build the program. Even when those schools are down, they still have so many built in advantages (facilities, recruiting, boosters, alums, legacy) that they can’t stay down. Even though Texas, Florida and Michigan were down when Brown, Meyer and Rich Rod took over, they weren’t going to stay down for long. Caretaker coaches can never be bigger than their programs.

    Part of the reason why these programs don’t stay down is because somewhere along the line, a coach that was larger than life built that program and made it what it is today. Those are Patriarch coaches. To me, a patriarch coach is a coach that takes a program with no history and creates the traditions, gets the alumni and booster support for facilities and basically builds the program from the ground up. In my opinion, Joe Paterno is this type of coach much in the way Darrel Royal was at Texas, Bear Bryant was at Alabama, Spurrier was at Florida. To me, Bobby Bowden is in this class of coach. Before Bowden, FSU (then Florida Teachers College) was an all-girl school with no football or athletic tradition. Everything that FSU has is because of Bobby and in those rare cases, those coaches truly are bigger than their programs because before them, there was no program.

    Coaches like JoePa and Bobby are legends that are bigger than there programs and those institutions owe it to the men that put them on the map to let them stay and go on their own terms. Those coaches owe little to the institutions but those institutions should always be beholden to those coaches. Meyer and Saban can win more national championships but Florida and ‘Bama will always belong to Spurrier and the Bear, the men that built those programs. Bobby is Florida State and JoePa is Penn State. Those guys in my opinion are untouchable legends that deserve to go out on their own terms because they ARE their programs.

  9. So Frank, FSU owes it to Bobby Bowden so he can now basically wreck everything he built? Hurt recruiting? Alienate the alumni and boosters? Put an inferior product on the field? Come on, FSU is no different than General Motors. The “good old boy syndrome” and “we were the best once” already has made FSU a laughing stock of the ACC. Dad gum it, he already has a statue so this Patriarch is considered a legend. Have a party, write him a check and let him go out as a legend or the FSU football program might end up like GM, BANKRUPT!

  10. Aer… I would like to see if Mickey Andrews stays under Jimbo Fisher.

    Andrews has been a mainstay and has put countless studs into the NFL, not to mention the Hall of Fame.

  11. They looked like world beaters against BYU, Al. They were fired up to play that game. I don’t know what happened on Saturday.

    Is BYU that bad? Is USF that good?

    One game I’m going to want to watch will be when Cincy comes to Ray Jay on 10/15.

    That’s a Thursday night game and I am drinking the Kool-Aid on Tony Pike.

    Besides, it’ll be nice to see a team play some real football in that stadium for a change.

  12. That’s fine, Frank, but what happens when the man who built the program is slowly seeing other, smaller programs that have no business doing so, pass him by.

    Not only did USF totally outplay FSU that day but they were the better team.

    How long would you allow the man who built the program to stay in charge if he’s not doing what he’s supposed to be doing and that’s recruiting good kids, teaching them and putting a winning product on the field?

    It wasn’t that long ago that they were talking about stripping Bowden of wins. That’s indefensible, Frank.

  13. Jeff & Frank… I think we’re overlooking something important.

    They’re student athletes. Winning football games is only a small part of it.

    Is Bowden graduating players? At what rate? Are his players good kids or are they still getting into trouble with the law?

    If that’s not happening AND FSU still stinks, then it might be time for the man to step aside.

  14. Chris

    BYU could be that good or they could be that bad ? Who really knows at this juncture ? USF with Daniels, are far better than them having Grothe at the helm. Grothe is just another Tebow wannabe . And he’s not that good to begin with !

    Dropped this piece on Tiger , the fight between Klitschko and Arreola as a postscript . And I lambast the Raiders and the Bucs. Let me know what you think as to the piece’s merits ?

    I’m Not Going To Rain On Your Parade But ………..

    Alan Parkins

  15. It was still a shame to see Grothe go out like that.

    He’ll go down as one of USF’s greatest players and that ain’t bad.

    Although from what I saw on Saturday, they’ll be better off in the long run with Daniels.

    Be right over to check out your Tiger piece.

  16. Chris,

    I went to the game in Tally and I think the Bulls may be better than anyone thought. Never mind Daniels who played well to be sure, the defensive line was scary fast and looked much bigger and stronger than the ‘Noles and that was really the difference in the game. This is no fluke given that All American and probable first round pick George Selvie is there but when you add Big East Defensive Player of the Week Jason Pierre-Paul suddenly they look pretty damn tough. The Bulls rarely played their starters in their first three “warm up” games so that could be in part why they took Bowden by surprise (and Vegas) but remember this is the same program that beat #18 Auburn at Auburn a couple of years ago and boasts victories over then #12 Kansas and one each against top 5 rated at the time Louisville and West Virginia. The Bulls we over ranked but they were #2 in the country two short seasons ago. More than anything else though, the Bulls have a better over all record than FSU (and Miami)over the last three years. as I walked into Doak and Sminole student leaned over and said “you don’t actually think you guys have a chance do you?” and I pointed out the above stat. I wasn’t sure we would win but I thought we would hang. Wish I could have seen him after the game. I must admit the ‘Nole fans were very classy and several people congratulated all of the guys in my group. Gator fan could learn alot from them.

  17. Chris

    What’s Frank talking about when he’s saying no man is bigger than the program ? If that’s not the case with regard to what’s happening with FSU . Then I don’t know what is. It’s clear that Bowden has outlived his usefulness there. And it has certainly become a hindrance in their recruiting. He’s not on tap with what’s going on in the game.

    On another point , how unbelievable is that situation with regard to USC running back Stafon Johnson ? He crushed his larynx while in the gym doing some bench work with weights .

    I’ve never heard of something like that happening in the gym before. Even when as a trainer with Ballys down south . I’d never come across a situation like that.
    It’s tragic to say the very least.

    Alan Parkins

  18. Ouch, Seth, bashing the Gators. I think it’s just that the Noles were in shock post-game.

    I’m looking forward to that USF-Cincy game coming up next month. That should be a great one.

  19. Pingback: Showing Respect Where Respect’s Due (9-29-09)

  20. Chris

    Me thinks Frank has been imbibing just a little too much as of late. If Bowden had been consistent like Joe Pa’ has been of late -then I wouldn’t be questioning the statement. But in all honesty every ‘nole alumni knows that the program has stalled over the last few years.

    Dropped this piece on the Trojans’ tailback Stafon Johnson and that of the Gators’ Tim Tebow. As such one can state that there’s no real comparison to be made as to the severity of the injuries suffered. But in all honesty both are just as significant as to their inherent threats as to their well being.

    It Still Has Its Dangers Be It One The Field Of Play Or Off It ……….

    Alan Parkins

  21. I just commented on the Stafon piece.

    Awful news, man.

    So is Bobby locked into FSU for one more year?

    Miami’s already made their changes and appear in the right direction. UF is on top of the mountain. FSU is nowehere near.

  22. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include these comments from Jon who emailed me personally.

    Jon writes…

    “Good Morning Mr. Humpherys,

    In your recent article in “The Daily Loaf”, you made at least one
    inaccurate statement:

    “The same BJ Daniels, a freshman, who on one Tallahassee afternoon showed
    the poise and leadership that senior quarterback Christian Ponder hasn’t
    showed on that field in four years.”

    Christian Ponder is a redshirt junior QB who has shown great leadership
    both on the field and in the classroom. He finished his undergraduate
    degree in finance in 2 1/2 years, graduating Magna Cum Laude, and is
    currently pursuing a master’s degree in finance. As far as football is
    concerned, this is only Ponder’s second year as a starter. He is also
    involved in public service:

    Perhaps you are referring to a different QB?”

    I stand corrected.

    Ponder is, as Jon states, a redshirt junior.

    Perhaps I was a little harsh on Ponder in questioning his ‘leadership.’ By no means was this meant as a judgment of his character.

    All I meant was, in his time under center as an FSU quarterback, he has come up significantly short of those who preceded him. Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke, to name only two, left huge shoes to fill, just as Tim Tebow will when he leaves Florida.

    Ponder’s on the field accomplishments pale in comparison those aforementioned. By the looks of it on Saturday, Daniels might have been a nice, eventual replacement.

  23. The man who gets the most satisfactory results is not always the man with the most brilliant single mind, but rather the man who can best coordinate the brains of his associates. This allpies between the coach and his players plus the coach and his coaches.

    Over the years how many of Bobby’s coaches have moved on to bigger and greener pastures?

    Talent, can at times, offset coaching decisions, but when it comes down to making a game plan and having the right talent on the field, the onus is on the head coach and his staff. Bobby has solidified his role but how good is his staff?

    Go Devils
    Go Hawkeyes

    Fitting that most schools in Florida have FU in it, except Miami, but then they just say “the U”. Could it be that “Miami” is too hard to spell?


  24. Wish you had a “goof-proof” to edit with. I’m not sure what allpies means but you get the jest of it.


  25. Chris

    Ponder shows leadership like John Kerry waffles on about heroism . Need I say anymore ?

    As for Josh Johnson ‘….. talk about throwing a lamb into the lion’s den’. Where’s Russell Crowe when
    you need him ? Gladiator …..’ Maximus , Maximus , Maximus . LOL, LOL ,LOL !!

    Can we all now agree that Bryant, Winslow , Adams, the friggin’ O and D lines of the Bucs have no sack much less balls to begin with ? I would bet against these tools being able to tackle a streaking octogenarian female . That’s how friggin’ bad they are !

    I Think I Could Do That …..

    This piece is somewhat poignant . Let me know what you think of it ?

    Alan Parkins

  26. Chris

    I hope it’s not Meyer’s intent to rush Tebow back into play after his concussion ? Second degree effects can linger for some time after the initial event.

    I’d responded to the comment left on Johnson Tebow piece.

    Chris Humpherys

    This is all so messed up ! He’s probably worked out in the gym repeatedly hundreds of times . And then something like this happens , even with a spotter there ?

    As for your buddy I’m glad that he wasn’t seriously injured .

    The closest I’ve ever come to a situation like that was when I’d been competing in a martial arts tournament as a kid. I wasn’t on the receiving end but I mistimed my punch and caught the opponent on the side of his neck. It almost decapitated him at the time.

    I don’t know what the outcome’ll be concerning Tebow. But I for one hope that they’re not inclined to rush him back just for the sake of the program’s national championship aspirations.

    Alan Parkins

    Alan Parkins said this on September 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Reply (edit) ”

    Alan Parkins

  27. Love to see Saint Bobby still standing on the sideline, mouth agape, catching flies, wondering if that was a BM or just gas.

    You’re right, he has forgotten more about football than you’ll ever know….in fact he probably has forgotten everything HE ever knew about football.

    Thank goodness that it’s the Criminoles that have to put up with his ego trip. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

    What has pissed me the most about Bowden (and Holtz) is that the media never questioned them about the thugs and criminal acts by their teams….yet they (the media) were all over Erickson and JJ at Miami. And before anyone says Miami deserved it…why didn’t FSU or N.D.? Rapes, thefts, academic fraud, all never questioned at those schools under the grandfatherly quote machines.

  28. PD… they used to say, you can’t spell scum without UM. So there.

    Agreed, Bowden has put out a braintrust of coaches.

    But as a Gator fan who suffered through the brief Zook years, following a legend ain’t easy.

  29. Al… I don’t think coach will do anything to rush Tebow back. Although we know Tebow will want to play.

    The bye week could not have come at a better time for Florida.

  30. Hantheman… I tried not to bring that up in the article but it’s true.

    If he’s graduating kids and they’re becoming men under Bowden, then have at it. He should stay there til he sees fit.

    But if that’s not the case and players are ending up on the police blotter, then that’s a different story altogether.

  31. Chris

    I know but there’s a preponderance that after having suffered a 2nd degree concussion as in the case of Tebow. He’ll be OK and set to go. A victim tends to have some sort of re-occurrence or something similar in effect within 30 days of the original event. It’s best to sit him and not take note of what Tebow wants. His health is of the utmost priority.

    As to Han’s take about graduation rates. It doesn’t matter if it were Bowden or any other coach in charge. That ought to be that coach’s first priority and that of the program’s on the field achievements. So his point is mute. It makes it sound as if any other coach wouldn’t be of the same mindset.

    Dropped this piece on the tiresome and woefully inept Redskins.

    DC BC There’s No Mistaking The Redskins Suck ………..

    See the vids within the piece as well. One of the fans is a Pinellas’ domiciled ‘skins’ fan. He makes Jed Clampett seem like an intellectual phenom !

    Alan Parkins

  32. Vegas needs some time adjusting the lines. The G-Men were 7 point road favorites last week. That 7.5 sounds about right. It’s not like the Skins are world beaters.

  33. I dont believe he should be fired but I think he should just step down. Now the main reason I`m feeling this way is because they just haven`t been preforming well under his leadership. They have not been winning like they should and recruiting has not been at the level it should.
    Since I work at the stadium I have seen a drop in the number of people that travel to come to the game. The RV area was full for the first game and traffic was crazy, but the home games since have not had that major turn out. Last year Every Single home game was crazy but now I feel as though fans are staying home. Even the local fans are just not excited about the games anymore. People are tired of losing. They are tired of traveling just to turn around and get laughed at.
    Overall, He had a great and amazing run but everyone needs to know when to just let things go and it is his time.

  34. I believe in nearly everything you said but I do believe that it is time for Bowden to just resign. I don’t think they should fire him but he needs to just step down. He has made Flordia State what it is today but he isn’t helping the school any longer.
    Their recruiting technique is so poor and it hasn’t improved, just gotten worse. Their fan morale has also gone down extremely. I work at the stadium and from last year to this year, the fans have decreased. Many people shovel in after half time depending on what the score is. People are tired of seeing their team lose and just play so poorly overall.
    Bowden has done a great job and now it is just his time to let someone else take Florida State higher.

  35. Syi… ’bout time you got over here to check out this piece.

    I don’t think he should be fired either. He’s earned his right to do as he sees fit… as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of the program.

    I think the booster that mouthed off lately was just some sucker who fell for a microphone that got stuck in his face. Even though his comments may have been slightly right, there were still disrespectful, which is why Bowden’s wife went off. I’m sure he got a tonguelashing for it.

    Wow, I didn’t realize they had a drop in attendance. That is definitely not good. No wonder they sold USF 10,000 tickets. I thought that was a high number.

    I think you’ve echoed the sentiments of most Seminole fans. Sometimes, it’s just time.

  36. I like to meet bandwagon fans like yourself,Chris.If you’re ever in the orlando area, I’d really like for you to come up to me like you did that statue so I can give you a dirtnap…..carry on smoking the pole gayturds!

  37. Actually, Dale, I didn’t stay at home but rather went out to watch the game.

    Congratulations on your national championship… and your innocent verdict.

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