This weekend in Tallahassee former FSU head coach Bobby Bowden will make his long awaited return and the timing couldn’t be better.
The Seminoles are undefeated, ranked second in the BCS and smacking around ACC competition like they did 20 years ago, when Bowden finally won his first national title behind Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward.
These days the Seminoles are led by another Heisman candidate at quarterback and don’t believe that Jameis Winston hasn’t gotten the 82-year old Hall of Fame coach’s attention.
“He inspires people, he really does,” Bowden said to the Tallahassee Democrat earlier this week. “Every game I see him play, and I’ve seen them all on film, I just get more and more impressed.”
Bowden might be impressed by the guy following in his massive footsteps too.
“Jimbo’s got control real good, now,” Bowden added. “He has established himself so it’s probably time for me to get back.”
The program is a little different than the one Bowden left behind. Only a small handful of players remain from Bowden’s tenure. Right away Fisher changed the way FSU trained off the field. He changed the nutrition programs. He put a bigger emphasis on recruiting in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The program has added an indoor practice facility.
Fisher also made some mistakes early. He rubbed some people the wrong way after last year’s loss to N.C. State. He’s learned from his mistakes and he is continuing to grow in his fourth year as a head coach. And to Bowden’s credit he’s given Fisher the space to make his mistakes, correct them and build his credibility with the fan base.
The current Seminoles head coach will be proud to show his mentor what he’s done. How he’s made some changes within the structure of the program but he has stuck with the foundation that Bowden built many years ago.
“[Bowden] made Florida State, he was Florida State,” Fisher said. “We have this stadium, the facilities because of him. That’s why we have academics. That’s why we have everything.”
Bowden’s departure from FSU wasn’t as peaceful as we all hoped it would have been. As the program began slipping away from Bowden he tried to hold on tighter. As the fan unrest got louder Bowden’s folksy charm was replaced by a more defiant, defensive character.
Thankfully time heals all wounds and Saturday it will provide the proper closure for both Bowden and the fan base that, when it’s all said and done, adore him and consider him FSU’s forever coach. Hearing those cheers will bring back strong memories for the coach. And it’s very likely that the product on the field will remind him of his better years in Tallahassee.