It will not end well for Bobby Bowden and Florida State, no matter how it ends, no matter when it ends.
One side will not be happy. Doubtful either side will be happy.
Bowden will say he was forced out. Those who forced him out will say he stayed too long.
Jim Smith, the chair of the FSU’s board of trustees, wants Bowden gone after this season.
Bowden’s wife, Ann, senses betrayal by the university.
The boosters are tired of donating to a program that is the fourth-best in the state. And who knows where they rank among the powers in the south?
The rest of us, I suspect, are growing tired of the story.
We all know Bowden’s legacy.
We all know what he’s meant to not only FSU, but to the explosion of college football in this state and to the game in general.
Most will agree he was one of the best college football coaches ever.
FSU’s 14-year run near the top of the polls will never be matched, not in today’s college football landscape.
Maybe that’s the saddest part of this story. Bowden wants another run at a national title. He wants FSU of 2009 to be FSU of 1999. Trouble is, those days no longer exist.
The ACC is much tougher, thanks to the money Bowden and the Seminoles pumped into the conference during all those national title game appearances. He can’t beat Urban Meyer like he could beat Steve Spurrier. Miami is now a conference game.
In a way, Florida State is a victim of its own success. In another way, the program is being held hostage by its past.
At the center is Bowden, the coach who once said he would willingly step aside if the program slipped into mediocrity, and by mediocrity, Bowden meant three or four losses a season. The way things are going now, a four-loss season would be cause for a parade at FSU.
Of course, Bowden said those things in the early part of this decade because he never dreamed of days like these.
You rule the sport for more than a decade, you think you can rule it for another decade.
You see a three-loss or a four-loss season as an anomaly, not the norm.
You want your son to be offensive coordinator, so you get the university to bend its own nepotism policy.
Your program becomes irrelevant and the whispers start that you should maybe leave, but no one is going to tell you when it’s time to go.
You know another run to the national title is just a season away, never mind you can’t recruit the players or coach them to reach that level.
So the board of trustees want you out, and your wife sees a knife in your back and the one funny line you used over and over during the glory days rings true: “A halo is but two feet from being a noose.”