Even though there are things I hate about most sports (money, greed, MONEY and GREED), college ball gets a lot right. Don’t kid yourself, the NCAA has a case of The Greed so bad it can’t figure out what to do with all the cash it is printing. The NCAA also has a wickedly strong case of The Stupids. But every now and then, someone somehow gets it right. Case in point (follow with me here);
Bobby Bowden, stud coach at Florida State. Coached there for like 96 years, won a shitload of games/titles/fans. Basically put FSU on the map. Single handedly. As the wins piled up, so did the fans. The fans brought money. Money that managed to expand the stadium from 40,000 to 80,000 seats. More fans, more wins, more TV, more money, more of everything. The football program was financing the growth of the University like no state comptroller ever could. Bobby Bowden was revered in Florida State circles. The soft talking coach that knew how to carry a big stick was everything a school administration could ask for.
And then, They asked for more. And by They, I mean a bunch of different folks; administrators, boosters, fans,
students scratch that, the students were having a blast. Apparently, for some, winning 2 out of every 3 games and going to a bowl game every year wasn’t enough. Bowden was getting long in the tooth, they said. His methods were out of touch with the times, they said. He couldn’t relate to the kids, they said. Soon there was a ‘Official Coach in Waiting’ on the staff. The gentle nudges towards the door were getting more frequent. And firmer.
One day the Athletic Director, technically Bobby Bowden’s boss, sat in Bobby’s office and told him ‘It’s time. Time for you to step aside. Time to move on. It’s what’s best for the program.’ Bobby Bowden looked his boss in the eye and said, ‘Son, that statue in front of the stadium, is that a statue of you? No? You’re right, it’s a statue of ME! When they take MY statue down and put yours up, then, and only then, you can tell me what’s best for Florida State Football.’
It took two years for the school administration to work up the cojones to present Bowden with an ultimatum basically sending him out to pasture after 34 years of service. Bobby told them to stick it where the sun don’t shine, grabbed his fishing pole and headed for his boat in the gulf and turned his phone off. ‘Where’s all the talk of loyalty now?’ Bowden wondered.
3 years have gone by. Time heals all wounds. The awkward days are in the past, The school president that presented Bowden with the ultimatum has since quit. The football team is doing well. 83 year old Bobby Bowden’s phone rings, the caller ID shows a familiar number, Bobby answers it. “Yup. Sure. I’d love to. October 26th? Dadgum perfect, I’ll be there.”
The FSU Band in on the action –
Bobby Bowden Day – Awesome. Good work FSU. This Penn State fan tips his hat to you.