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Report: Bowden expected to retire as FSU coach

The Tallahassee Democrat
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 08:50 PM
TALLAHASSEE -

Bobby Bowden's legendary coaching career at Florida State University is expected to end today, The Tallahassee Democrat learned.

Bowden is expected to announce his resignation by way of a statement to be released today, sources told the Democrat.

As part of his retirement, Bowden is expected to be offered a non-coaching position at FSU for an unspecified amount of time. In addition to any settlement compensation that may be negotiated, Bowden also is entitled to $1 million upon his retirement as part of a clause in his contract that was agreed upon at least 10 years ago.

It is unclear if Bowden will coach the bowl game, but sources said if he does coach one last game, then the Gator Bowl might try to select FSU for its Jan. 1 game.

A team meeting has been scheduled for this afternoon, another source told the Democrat.

After reports of Bowden's resignation surfaced Monday, his wife, Ann, told The Associated Press and USA Today that her husband had not made a final decision.

"I imagine, if there's any decision to be made, it would be Bobby's," she told USA Today. "Maybe we'll know something if they announce it. I haven't been informed of anything. Maybe we'll find out (today). ... I don't know a thing."

Bowden's retirement means Jimbo Fisher will become the first head football coach FSU has hired in 34 seasons.

"This is a major shift in the history of Florida State football," said prominent FSU booster Barry Smith, a former Seminole receiver and now a Tampa businessman. "You can't say enough about Coach Bowden and what he has meant for the program. He is more than a coach. He is an icon and has truly been a great father figure to so many of those kids.

"Will he be missed? Of course he will. Jimbo has some unbelievably huge shoes to fill. But I think Jimbo is going to bring a new zest to the program."

Fisher has spent the past three seasons on Bowden's staff as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was named the head-coach-in-waiting in December 2007 after his first season on staff.

As Fisher flirted with overtures from other programs, including West Virginia, FSU president T.K. Wetherell orchestrated a deal that forced FSU to pay Fisher $5 million if he wasn't named head coach by January 2011.

Setting a standard

Bill Proctor, FSU's interim athletic director when the coach-in-waiting agreement with Fisher was announced nearly two years ago, said Monday that Bowden's expected announcement comes at a good time.

"I think the arrangement is good," Proctor told The Tampa Tribune. "Whether the timing is right, that's based on Coach Bowden's decision. I wouldn't second-guess him at all. I have tremendous respect for him. He is a great gentleman and has just made a tremendous contribution to college football. He came to FSU when FSU was really talking about dropping football. What the man has done is nothing short of extraordinary."

Bowden's expected announcement ends a 34-year run at FSU, where he built the football program into one of the country's best. His teams won 10 or more games for 14 consecutive seasons from 1987-2000 - a mark that is still considered the standard for excellence in major college football.

'The perfect solution'

Longtime Bowden friend Hugh "Deacon" Jones, who grew up in Birmingham, Ala., and attended Woodlawn High with Bowden, talked to his friend Sunday night.

Jones is not surprised Bowden plans to retire, considering the two options presented to him Monday morning during a meeting with Wetherell and FSU athletic director Randy Spetman - retire or take on a reduced coaching role.

"I'm worried about him, but he sounded fine," Jones said. "Bobby's always upbeat. It was always that he was going to coach through 2010. The first I heard him move off that was after Saturday's game. I want him to get out with people still respecting him for the person he is and the coach he is.

"If I'm reading between the lines, that's the perfect solution for Bobby and the school. They can all go away as friends and appreciate each other, and he can come up here and play golf."

However, Jones understands the dilemma Bowden has talked about in making a decision about retiring. Bowden's coaching idol, former Alabama coach Bear Bryant, died shortly after retiring.

"I quit my work when I was 53, and it took me six months to figure out what I was doing," Jones said. "It will take Bobby longer than that. He never wanted to do anything but coach."

Bowden's teams won national championships in 1993 and 1999 and have played in a bowl game every year since 1982 - the longest active streak in the nation.

Bowden's decision to retire stems from Monday's meeting with Wetherell and Spetman.

The three men met for "about an hour," according to Bowden, who spoke at his weekly FSU booster luncheon afterward.

"(Today) we're going to meet again and have an announcement whether or not I'll be here at Florida State (and) continue another year," Bowden said.


Tribune reporter Scott Carter contributed to this report.

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