Sept. 18, 2000
The 2000 college football season is just barely under way and there
are already startling reminders of just how much we should all cherish what
has happened at Florida State over the last 13 years.
By now you would have to be living in a cave or perhaps Gainesville
not to know that Florida State University is the only school in the long
history of college football to have finished among the Associated Press’
Top Four for 13 consecutive years. Think about that for a moment. Not the
AP Top 25, not have a winning record, not go to a bowl game, but finish
among the best four teams in the country. In fact, FSU has not been lower
than fourth since Travis Minor was in third grade.
With that as the backdrop, look over the scores from the early
games and you get a pretty full appreciation of just what Bobby Bowden, his
coaching staff and our players have done. Penn State starts 0-2, Notre
Dame is surprised by a home win over Texas A&M, and closer to home, Georgia
Tech edges Central Florida and Appalachian State and Miami of Ohio get wins
over the ACC and the SEC.
It’s a tough world out there in college football right now which
makes our success nothing short of remarkable.
I have heard Coach Bowden asked a million times what he attributes
his success to. He always refers to the wealth of talent in the state. He
points at the attraction that a great university like FSU has and he even
gives the hot weather some credit. But the very first thing he talks about
is the continuity in his coaching staff. Always quick to give his
assistant coaches most of the credit, Bowden truly believes that the
dedication and longevity of his coaches have made the Seminole program more
stable than most others in college football.
The element that Coach Bowden shys from talking about is his own
remarkable leadership of these 25 years. And leadership is the appropriate
description. When Bowden took on the FSU football program it was a
rudderless ship. Whispers of canceling the program all together if more
success was not reached could be heard throughout the state and the great
success the program enjoyed in it’s infancy was in danger of being washed
away by recent losing streaks.
Twenty-five years ago Bobby Bowden grabbed the reigns of the
program and through a combination of stubborn determination, rock solid
principles and a unique ability to communicate, he has led the Seminoles to
the very top of the college football world.
He is the very best college football coach in the country and I suspect
history may end up suggesting the very best ever. But back to the point of
As Florida State fans and fans of college football in general, you
can rest assured that our program is in the very best of hands. From our
president Sandy D’Alemberte, to our Director of Athletics Dave Hart and to
Bobby Bowden, we are guided by people who unwaveringly believe in the
integrity of this university and are committed to making sure our football
program represents FSU the very best it can.
Over the summer, a number of columnists have taken knee jerk shots
at Coach Bowden and our program. They are wrong – dead wrong. And as
Florida State fans you should look our detractors right in the eye, kind of
the way Marvin Jones used to look at a Miami tailback, and tell them they
Our football program and its student-athletes are by and large
exceptional representatives of this university. And when they are not,
they are disciplined just as surely as they are praised when they score a
touchdown. Our student-athletes dedicated over 3,000 volunteer hours to
Tallahassee and the surrounding areas last year alone, but there is rarely
an effort to squeeze that kind of news on the front page. Ditto the fact
that 19 of our 28 seniors on the football roster will have their degrees by
the time we play a bowl game, which is going out on a pretty thick limb.
“Got an easy solution for all those folks who are tired of our
program being picked apart,” Bowden told a group of reporters this summer.
“Just lose three or four games. We lose games and you’ll be amazed at how
little you hear about FSU. It’s not fair and it’s not right but it just
comes with the territory. ”
What I would suggest to Seminole fans, however, is that you do not
buy into the latest media fad. Look them straight in the eye and tell them
they are wrong. Remember these “controversies” of the last few years:
FSU’s running up the score on people, Spurrier’s late hits whine, the
schedule is too tough, not winning the big games, etc., etc. When’s the
last time you heard any of these. It’s the nature of the media to let
these things rise and fall like a wave at St. George Island.
Do our student-athletes occasionally make mistakes? Absolutely.
Does this embarrass us at times? Certainly. Do we over look them in an
effort to win games? Not a chance. Are we proud of our athletic program?
You better believe it!
Leadership is what Coach Bowden says will determine if we can
repeat as National Champions. And it has been strong leadership from
D’Alemberte, to Hart, to Bowden that has made our remarkable success
possible. Trust them and look our detractors right in the eye!