TALLAHASSEE — A day after the Bobby Bowden forced-into-retirement story resurfaced, eight months after the details had been public, former Florida State president T.K. Wetherell offered his version on how the Bowden era.
In an e-mail sent to the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday, Wetherell detailed how the university offered Bowden two choices in December. Retire after a 6-6 regular season or return in an ambassador role in which Bowden would have no authority.
"There were basically two options and neither were going to come out good," Wetherell wrote. "The whole idea of an Ambassador Coach made no sense to me or him when we talked through it, but I told some of the Board of Trustees and Boosters I would present it — but was not committed to it and didn't think Bowden would want it either. To his credit, he dismissed all variations of it right off the bat.
"That left option 2 — not renewing his contract. … So Bobby chose to announce his retirement."
Tackle returns: If there had been a game to play, Andrew Datko said he would have been on the field sooner. But since there wasn't, he used the majority of the past couple of weeks to rest a left shoulder that has given him problems during the past year.
Datko, the starting left tackle who is among the ACC's best, returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out for about a week and a half.
"I think they just wanted me to be healed, and I wanted to be playing all 14 games this year," he said. "I didn't want to rush back where something happens and I'm out for the whole year."
The shoulder injury, as well as one to his elbow, hindered Datko last season but he started every game. The junior has bulked up to 310 pounds, an increase of about 40 pounds from when he arrived as a freshman.
"I'm actually pushing the guys backward instead of getting pushed back," he said.
Quick hits: The threat of lightning interrupted practice for the second consecutive day. That's more ammunition for coach Jimbo Fisher, who is campaigning for an indoor practice facility. … S Nick Moody (hamstring) returned to practice, where he is battling Ochuko Jenije for a starting spot.
USF: Still sorting out some defensive spots
TAMPA — Coach Skip Holtz released a new depth chart that shows several key defensive positions up for grabs.
Both cornerback spots have co-starters listed, with senior Mistral Raymond and junior Quenton Washington even on one side, and sophomores Kayvon Webster and George Baker vying for the other spot.
What's more, redshirt freshman JaQuez Jenkins of Lakewood was working with the first-team defense, ahead of expected starter Jon Lejiste, who is playing despite a broken bone in his right ring finger.
Another redshirt freshman, DeDe Lattimore, is listed as a starter at weakside linebacker ahead of senior Sabbath Joseph, who missed much of the last week with a concussion. Joseph returned to practice Wednesday.
"There's some slashes and tight races that maybe could flip, but pretty much, the guys on that depth chart are the guys who are going to be playing," Holtz said.
Quick hits: QB B.J. Daniels will assist with the Bucs-Jaguars pregame coin toss Saturday at Raymond James Stadium as part of USA Football Month festivities. Daniels will be joined by youth football players from elementary, middle and high schools, along with former Bucs players, to show the progress of the sport from childhood to retirement. … Of two injured starting receivers, Holtz said Sterling Griffin (ankle) is likely to return ahead of A.J. Love (knee), though both are likely out until at least October.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UF: New 'Slash?'
GAINESVILLE — Omarius Hines will be on the field in the season opener. Where he will line up remains a mystery.
Hines has worked at receiver and tight end throughout the preseason, and he even said he has lined up in the backfield. The latter position came as a surprise to everyone, including running backs coach Stan Drayton, who said he has not seen Hines take any snaps there.
Coaches confirmed Hines is playing tight end. While he is still raw at the position, the 6-foot, 219-pound receiver has the physical tools to succeed.
"He's too big for corners and too fast for linebackers, so he's that hybrid player," OL Carl Johnson said. "It's fun watching him, to see those little DBs try to tackle someone that big and see those linebackers try so hard but can't even come close to catching him."
Hines said he does not care about where he lines up, and he is prepared to play close to the linemen or out wide.
"He can be an outside receiver, and he's big enough where he can block and still get out and catch the ball," QB John Brantley said. "He's fast enough to do anything. He's going to be a big asset for our offense."
Tyler Jett, Times correspondent
UM: Key tackle back
CORAL GABLES — T Joel Figueroa and WR LaRon Byrd returned to practice after being held out last week with injuries.
Figueroa, whose injury was undisclosed, is one of the more experienced linemen. Byrd had a mild knee injury.
"We knew (Figueroa) was going to come back without any problems," said coach Randy Shannon, who added that Figueroa will start the season opener. "You concern yourself, but you just have to be careful and make sure we have him for the long term."
South Florida Sun Sentinel
UCF: Bonded bunch
ORLANDO — Veteran LB Chance Henderson and Josh Linam said the Knights had a great camp, marked by aggressive sessions on the field and a lot of team laughter off it.
"I thought it was a great camp as far as effort and enthusiasm," Henderson said.
"It seems like everyone's really close this year, and there's not really anybody who doesn't like each other," Linam said. "Everyone has great chemistry."
Tailgate practice: The UKnight Ultimate Tailgating Party is 2-6 p.m. Saturday at the Wall Street Plaza in Orlando. Restaurants will offer food and drink specials, and 10 pairs of tickets to the opener will be given away.