It was not a good week for Florida State University.
First, legendary football coach Bobby Bowden declares he was forced out of his job at FSU and did not voluntary resign. The next day, his new book hit the shelves harder than a Seminole Tomahawk chop.
Almost simultaneously, FSU administrators looked like bullies in trying to strip Southeast High of its nickname and logo, claiming it infringes on their merchandising rights.
By Friday, FSU was operating on damage control.
The backlash here moved up Interstate 75 and across Interstate 10 with the fury of a Hurricane, threatening to destroy the integrity of the university’s hallowed grounds.
Bowden continued his promotional tour for “Called to Coach,” insisting in an AP interview, “I didn’t want them (FSU) to spread the story that I voluntarily, happily resigned. ... I was pushed out.”
With the heat turning up, cooler heads prevailed and the administration backed off its insistence that Southeast discard decades of tradition and acquiesce to its demands.
Before we start showering the Panhandle’s most famous institution with applause, let us realize it had no choice. Things were getting so embarrassing at FSU that its Garnet and Gold school colors were turning a bright red.
Reportedly, it took an intervention from the office of the university president to get this thing rectified.
But it should never have gotten that far.
University administrators could have prevented this fight by stopping the Collegiate Licensing Company, which handles the FSU trademark, from sending its death sentence to Southeast.
The fact that it came shortly after Bowden claimed he received what in essence was a death sentence to his coaching career didn’t help.
He says when Jimbo Fisher was labeled a “coach in waiting” a few years back, it robbed him of the control he needed to run his program, noting the only person who likes the coach-in-waiting title is the coach in waiting.
In the court of public opinion, you fight muscle with muscle, and Southeast had a perfect weapon in Peter Warrick, the most well known Seminole this side of Chief Osceola.
The former Southeast star made a heckuva lot of money for FSU during its 1999 national championship run. Surely a boatload more than the $100,000 it reportedly would cost Southeast to destroy every reference at its school to Seminoles.
Warrick said he was going to broach the subject for public consumption at the ceremonies commemorating his induction into the FSU Hall of Fame this Friday. The threat might have had more impact than an IRS lien on Doak Campbell Stadium.
This is the person perhaps most responsible for the greatest football season in FSU’s storied history. Those Noles spent the entire season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, marking the first time it had ever been done in college football.
It goes against common sense to take on the greatest coach and one of the greatest players in school history and expect to win. World War II proved you don’t fight battles on two fronts.
Take the whole thing as a lesson learned and heed Aristotle’s warning that desire and reason motivate men, but desire prompts actions in violation of reason.
In this den of Manatee County, FSU cannot be totally absolved of its actions.
The report that the university insists Southeast pay FSU $1 a year for use of the name and images sounds a touch bullish.
Bowden’s public discontent with his “dismissal” from FSU appears to be in its infancy stage, and if his book becomes a best seller, university officials could be circling the wagons.
Explaining alleged cold-heartedness to the man who took a football program off the scrap heap and gave it national prominence is difficult.
But it does get easier if you are no longer perceived as the bully on the block.