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Bobby Bowden To Step Down at Florida State

Media reports tonight say Bowden will announce his retirement after coaching the Seminoles for 34 years.

Bowden leaves behind a program indelibly stamped with his imprint, one that reached unprecedented heights, but now finds itself the third best program in its state.

School president T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman met with Bowden today and reportedly told him he could come back as an "ambassador" for the program -- with little or no input into the football team -- or retire. Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher will officially take over as Head Coach.

The Bowden legacy is a stunning stretch of success that turned Florida State into an elite NCAA D-1 football program.

Florida State has been playing football since 1947, and Bobby Bowden has walked the sidelines as Head Coach for 59% of the school's games throughout its history.

Before Bowden, FSU experienced some success with Bill Peterson, who was 62-42-11 from 1960-70. Peterson, also known for his mangling of the English language )"Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl."
"You guys line up alphabetically by height.")
got FSU ranked in the Top 20 four times.

But when Bowden took over, the program was at the bottom, going 4-39 the previous three years. Bowden went 5-6 his first season (1976) and then ran off 32 straight winning seasons until this year's 6-6 mark.

Bobby Bowden brought the bling to FSU along with 315 wins.

Before Bowden, Florida State was 150-130-13 for a winning percentage of 53%. Bowden leaves the sidelines with a 315--97-4 mark at FSU for a winning percentage of 76%

During the late 1970's and early 1980's Bowden set about building a program that would play anyone anywhere. He took the Seminoles to Baton Rouge five straight times to play LSU without a return date. He played Nebraska and Ohio State two times without a return date, he went to Notre Dame. He also took some damn good teams with him and came away with more than his share of wins on the road.

From 1987-2000, Florida State averaged 11 wins a season and finished in the Top Five all fourteen years. But since the streak ended there has been a gradual decline in the program, and now FSU fans must hope he didn't stay too long.

Bowden leaves without reaching his final goal, passing Joe Paterno on the all-time major college coaches winning list.

It isn't just that the wins were not piling up as fast since 2000. There was his hiring of his son Jeff as Offensive Coordinator, and the turmoil that followed. He has seen the NCAA take away some of his wins over an academic misconduct scandal that involved 25 of his players (FSU is appealing the NCAA penalty).

The landscape has changed since Bowden came on the scene. Florida was a non-factor until Steve Spurrier showed up, and now Urban Meyer has ramped up the pressure even more. Miami is showing signs of becoming a major player again and Florida State cannot afford to fall further behind in the recruiting wars to its two major competitors.

School President Wetherell and AD Spetman can only hope that Jimbo Fisher is capable of taking on the in-state rivals. The question they have to answer:

Is the program bigger than Bobby Bowden.