In the spirit of ESPN Classic's "5 Good Reasons Why ..." I have decided to try and justify Jeff Bowden's continued employment with Florida State football. This is going to be an exercise in intellect, as I am among the many who wish to no longer see Jeff anywhere near Doak Campbell Stadium or Seminole football. But for the sake of argument here are my 5 Good Reasons Jeff Bowden is not to blame for Florida State's recent offensive ineptitude:
5) The Re-emergence of the U
Starting in 2000, the University of Miami reclaimed its spot as one of the premier football powerhouses in the nation. Save for this year's dismal start, Larry Coker has taken the recruits of Butch Davis and his own players and made "the U" one of the best teams in the ACC. Gone are the days of beating sorry Miami teams 47-0. Who knows how many of those recruits would have gone to Florida State had Miami stayed on probation?
4) Keeping up with the Joneses
Who can forget Jared Jones? The next quarterback in line after the graduation of Chris Weinke, Jones was supposed to keep the seat warm for California super-stud Chris Rix. Well Mr. Jones got thrown off the team prior to the 2001-2002 season skewing the prefered rotation of college quarterbacks becoming starters as juniors. Instead, Chris Rix became a starting freshman quarterback with a lot of potential and not much results. This mix of star potential and ill-fated mistakes plagued him throughout his FSU career. Thanks for messing up the rotation Jared. You get shot in some neighborhoods for that.
3) Joe Mauer
Yes, the same Joe Mauer who is currently leading the major leagues in batting average is partly to blame for FSU's woes. Mauer was supposed to be the "next big thing" after Rix, and was recruited out of Chris Weinke's old high school in Minnesota. But what does Mr. Mauer do? Does he save FSU football? No. He turns down FSU after getting drafted by the hometown Twins. Good career move? Maybe. But fortunately Bobby Bowden reportedly "promised to keep a scholarship open for Mauer 12 years after he is done with baseball" (The Kansas City Star). Come on Joe, you know Tallahassee is much nicer than the Twin Cities.
2) Bobby Bowden's coaching tree
Like all great coaches, eventually the apples fall from the tree. In Coach Bowden's case, losing Mark Richt to Georgia and Chuck Amato to N.C. State really hurt FSU football as both coaches have used their Bowden-taught wisdom against Coach Bowden. Although it is a credit to Coach Bowden's career and abilities as a teacher, the branches of this tree have come back to whip the Seminoles in the face.
1) The Emergence of ACC Football
In 1992, USA Basketball, the "Dream Team", destroyed the world competition on their way to the gold medal. One year earlier, FSU entered the ACC, similarly destroying all in their path. Why compare the two? Because in both cases their opponents have caught up in terms of talent and training. USA basketball hasn't won a gold medal of late due not only to inconsistent play but to the rising talent throughout the world. FSU football, likewise, has not contended for national glory of late also due not only to inconsistent play but also to the increased emphasis on football recruiting in ACC Country. Years ago, talents like Phillip Rivers, Julius Peppers, and Mario Williams would have been no-brainers to join the FSU juggernaut. But like most monopolies, the competition eventually comes back.
Injuries: see Thorpe, Cro; Castillo, David; and other assorted linemen.
Academic problems (alarm clock-related): see Rix, Chris.
Legal problems: see McPherson, Adrian; Rouse, Fred.
God complex: see Sexton, Wyatt.