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Pressure Building on Bobby Bowden

From 1987-2000 Florida State was 152-19-1, finishing in the Top 5 for a incredible 14 years in a row.

Since 2006, the Seminoles are 24-19, and even the hometown media thinks it is time for Bowden to step down.

With the 28-21 loss to Boston College on Saturday, the Seminoles have now lost two straight since moving to No. 18 in The Associated Press Top 25, including last week's 17-7 victory by South Florida.

With the loss to Boston College, Florida State is 2-3 for the first time since 1976, Bowden's first season as the FSU head coach.

The entire situation has Shakespearean overtones from King Lear.

Bowden, who will turn 80 in November, is 384-126-4 as a D-1 Head Coach. That is only 3 games behind the All-Time Major College winner, Joe Paterno of Penn State (387-128-3) -- or maybe not.

The NCAA has ruled that Florida State committed serious academic violations involving more than 50 athletes in a online music course, and they have ordered that 10 sports be stripped of some victories, including 14 from Bobby Bowden's mark.

FSU has appealed the ruling, denying any knowledge of infractions by the football staff and saying the coach's records should not be altered.

In a similar case, Alabama was told to vacate 21 of its wins, and they are also appealing to the NCAA.

Bobby Bowden either trails Joe Paterno by 3 wins or by 17 wins in all-time D-1 records, depending on an appeal to the NCAA.

One interesting sidenote to this is that the NCAA's penchant for secrecy is also under fire. An appeals court upheld a lower court ruling last week that the NCAA must release documents on Florida State's appeal of an academic cheating penalty. The Associated Press and other media groups had sued, saying the NCAA's desire to keep the process private violated Florida open records laws.

When Florida State appealed the NCAA penalty, the NCAA blocked public access to its response to FSU -- providing the records through a confidential "read only" Web site available only to Florida State and its lawyers. The NCAA later allowed Florida State to transcribe the appeal response and provide it to the public, but not release the record itself.

Florida newspapers and television stations have sued the NCAA and Florida State, alleging that the use of a confidential system violates the state's public records law.

This summer, Florida State decided to join the media in the lawsuit, urging the NCAA to comply with state law and turn over the documents.

The NCAA has a history of closely guarding the information in its infractions cases, to the point of not even allowing the Institutions under investigation to keep copies of the documents used in the investigation.

In recent years the NCAA has used a private website to let institutions view the information in the investigation. The NCAA makes schools or their representatives sign a "web custodial confidentiality agreement" that threatens them with "civil or criminal actions" or Bar complaints if they disclose information regarding the case.

The NCAA argues that they need confidentiality in order to be able to to discipline offending schools.

Lawyers say it is one of the first direct challenges to the NCAA practice of conducting its investigations and decision-making largely outside of public review. And although a court ruling against the NCAA would only apply in Florida, it could provide a template for challenges in other states with similar public records laws.

Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has been named Coach-in-Waiting, and his contract has an out if he is not the Seminoles head coach by 2011. Meanwhile Bowden gives every indication that he still has the desire to coach. After yesterday's loss to Boston College, Bowden was again asked about his future, even so much as this next week.

"What would I gain by stepping down?" he said after the game. "What would you do, fire everyone and bring in an entire coaching staff? What would you gain by that?

"I'll evaluate myself."

Florida State was a mediocre program at best before Bobby Bowden took over in 1976. The program won 53% of its games before Bowden. But over the past 4+ years, Florida State is 33-24, and FSU fans fear they are about to take up permanent residence as the 3rd most relevant D-1 program in their state.

Urban Meyer is 48-9 at Florida and has the Gators gunning for their 3rd National Title in 4 years. Randy Shannon has just taken Miami through a stretch of 4 games against nationally-ranked opponents with a 3-1 record. The Hurricanes are back on the national stage and should be favored in every game left on their schedule.

Meanwhile Florida State fans watch King Bobby rage against the dying of the light, pulling the Seminoles back to the middle of the pack with him.