Jim Smith, the chairman of the Florida State Board of Trustees, said his call for coach Bobby Bowden to announce his retirement represented the sentiments of most fans.
He said, citing the e-mails and phone messages he had received in less than a day, that "90, 95 percent" of folks supported him and thanked him for lending his powerful voice to them.
But according to e-mails sent to FSU president T.K. Wetherell, who has said in a statement that no coaching moves will be made until after the season ends, the fan base's opinions are far more diverse: From backing Bowden to bashing Smith to questioning the wisdom of eventually turning the program over to Jimbo Fisher, the anointed heir.
- Eight people, out of 31 who sent correspondence that was obtained Friday by the St. Petersburg Times through a public records request, fervently said Bowden had earned the right to decide when he retires.
Wrote Margaret Murphy of Chicago: "Normally I wouldn't send an e-mail like this, but ... I felt that someone needed to have Bobby's back. He deserves to have our support ... ."
- An even larger number, nine, either implicitly or explicitly supported their 79-year-old legend by attacking Smith for his public comments, beginning Monday in the Tallahassee Democrat when he said, "enough is enough" and again on Tuesday in the Times when he likened the situation to putting "your favorite dog down; you know it's the right thing to do but you sure feel bad about it."
Wrote Kathryn Vasterling of Tampa: "Please do not be misled by Jim Smith, a trustee (chair or not!) with so little regard for respect and honor of a coach who put your University on the map. Coach Bowden is why I watch FSU football. What has occurred this week in the media and with the egocentric group of blow hard trustees is a knife in the back to a legend and institution ... Coach Bowden is owed an apology."
From Van George of Clearwater, FSU alumnus (Class of 1967): "I remember our program before Coach Bowden arrived. I have been embarrassed by the statements from many fans and a trustee in particular. ... Our coaches can coach and our players can play. I support them and you."
- Five fans were equally as inclined as Smith that Bowden should go, sooner rather than later, threatening to withhold any donations if Bowden is "allowed to destroy what he built," wrote John Anderson.
- Four others agree that Bowden should go but would like to see a far more comprehensive house cleaning so that FSU can conduct a national search for a new coach. Ham Bisbee of St. Augustine, for one, suggests going after former Bucs coach Jon Gruden.
- The rest were a smattering of support for Wetherell's statement or a plea for him to act decisively now.
Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.