Calls for Florida State coach Bobby Bowden to retire, which has created an environment of turmoil and rumor, could make the job of luring top-shelf players more challenging than ever.
"You don't think those kids are hearing it from the Floridas and Georgias and Miamis of the world?" said Jamie Newberg, the national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. "I think it will affect them in a negative manner until they address it."
But two days after the school's Board of Trustees chairman, Jim Smith, said it was time for Bowden, 79, to announce this is his final season, school president T.K. Wetherell continues to stay mum. That amid speculation that he and Bowden are talking about an enhanced retirement package or a change in Bowden's day-to-day control if he wants to stay for the 2010 season. Anointed heir Jimbo Fisher must be offered the job by January 2011 or he receives $5 million.
Terrence Mitchell, a touted defensive back from Hillsborough High, told the Times that neither the uncertainty surrounding Bowden nor the team's struggles (2-3 overall) affect how he views FSU.
"I'm not looking at which team is down and which is up," said Mitchell, who has whittled his list to FSU, USF, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina and Illinois. "I'm looking at what's the best fit for me, what school has the best academics, playing time and location, so that I'm comfortable."
His prep coach, Earl Garcia, is taken aback by how the school has handled Bowden's situation and sees it as an issue.
"If they are going to treat Bobby like that, how are they going to treat a kid off the street?" he said. "You're darn right it's going to affect recruiting. Is it going to affect Terrence's? I don't know."
FSU's job seems further complicated by a possible shakeup to the defensive staff regardless of Bowden's fate. Longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews has said this could be his last year and if he leaves, then the future could be uncertain for other assistants, including linebackers coach Chuck Amato.
Fisher said the Seminoles already have had to answer questions on the recruiting trails "about what we do and what goes on and we have to deal with it. There's always going to be things like that."
Even while the heat on Bowden intensifies, he's receiving support from former players and his peers, including USF's Jim Leavitt and Florida's Urban Meyer.
"What's going on up there (in Tallahassee), I think is ridiculous," Leavitt said. "I think, to me, it's embarrassing … I remember growing up here, when Florida State was a teachers' college and … didn't have nearly the significance it has now. What he's done for that program is legendary, and to me, he has every right to retire whenever he wants to retire."
Times staff writers Eduardo A. Encina and Greg Auman contributed to this report. Brian Landman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3347.