Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, a night after stunning folks by saying he had some "soul searching" to do about his future, couldn't have made his hopes for 2010 any clearer a day later:
"Right now, I would like to come back," he said Sunday, sounding more upbeat than he did moments after a 37-10 loss at No. 1 Florida on Saturday.
Contrary to Internet reports, Bowden said no meeting has been set for today with FSU president T.K. Wetherell, but he does expect to sit down with him soon. Bowden, 80, who trails only Penn State's Joe Paterno in wins (393-388) in Division I-A history, has worked under a one-year contract for the past few seasons, and his latest deal expires in January.
But he has had an understanding with Wetherell and his athletic directors, Randy Spetman and Dave Hart before him, that it would be his call whether he wanted to return for another year. Has something changed?
"I've got bosses, and I've got people who would have to approve it," Bowden said. "Do I have that forever? I would say no."
Wetherell told the St. Petersburg Times in an e-mail last week that Spetman "will evaluate the football program after the season — like always." Spetman declined an interview request but has given Bowden glowing performance evaluations, according to records obtained by the Times.
It seems apparent that Bowden and Wetherell had agreed some time ago on his departure date — after the 2010 season, which was in synch with heir Jimbo Fisher's contract (he must be offered the coaching job by January 2011 or he's owed $5 million). But then the Seminoles started 2-4.
Prominent alumnus Jim Smith, chairman of the school's board of trustees, then publicly called for the Bowden era to end, intensifying the heat on Bowden to retire or the administration simply not to offer him another year. Bowden said Wetherell was "trying to feel me out" in October when they last talked in earnest about his future because the season "looked bleak." The Seminoles finished 6-6 and qualified for a bowl for an NCAA-leading 28th straight year.
"I keep saying, 'I want to right the program,' " Bowden said. "I think we're better, but our record doesn't look any better. You would still like to get that big year. You'd like to turn it around like Joe (Paterno) did (in 2005) before you step out. But that might not happen."
Bowden stressed he would probably "step out now" if the future didn't look brighter and said that if the players didn't want him to return, he likely would retire.
"That'd be too futile; that wouldn't be fair," he said.
Several players who spoke to the media Saturday night said they hope Bowden will be back.
While Internet rumors have suggested that could happen if he were to abdicate significant authority to Fisher, Bowden said he will only come back as "the head coach." So, how quickly will his situation be resolved?
"My answer is," he said, "it don't take long to say yes or no."
Award: Junior OG Rodney Hudson won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in a vote by ACC coaches and defensive coordinators.