Bobby Bowden Isn’t Florida State University
Posted by William Kristoph
Let me first start off by saying this isn’t an Anti-Bobby post. I’m not against Bobby Bowden. I’m really not. My opinions are obvious over the last few years. I thought it was time for him to move on, or hire better assistants. Since the latter wasn’t happening on the defensive side of the ball, the former had to happen a bit earlier than Bowden might have liked. It happened, it’s over, and the Jimbo Fisher era starts now.
However, something nagged at me over the final month or two of the season, and it really started to bother me after Bobby Bowden announced his retirement. The pundits and media came out in force and turned up the volume. Former players spoke out. Many fans spoke out. No, I’m not talking about comment #1 which was, “He deserves to go out when he chooses.” I can agree to disagree on that. No, what bothered me was the statement made by many, “Bowden IS Florida State University,” or “Bobby Bowden made Florida State University.” It bothers me that players and media alike want to minimize what a great university Florida State is academically and culturally by chalking up the success and fame of FSU to ONLY the football program.
I have a problem with the statements, because as usual it ASSUMES way too much about too many of the students that attend FSU. Is it true that FSU was the “girls” school originally? Yes. But remember, Bobby Bowden and FSU Football had absolutely nothing to do with the change from a female-only institution to a coed one. If that change hadn’t been made so many years ago, Bobby Bowden wouldn’t have “made FSU.” It wouldn’t have been there to make. If Bowden hadn’t resurrected the FSU football program, would FSU look differently today? Yes, but it would still be here with other, different successes.
Let me share a little story:
Once upon a time a young man that grew up a Miami Hurricane fan was accepted to the University of Miami. He set foot on the campus and his gut immediately told him that Miami wasn’t the place for him. He wasn’t meant to be a ‘Cane. There was somewhere else for him. That same man eventually took a tour of Florida State University. FSU was in major transition with renovations going on everywhere, and the sleepy City of Tallahassee starting to slowly wake up a bit. FSU and Tallahassee were home.
None of that had anything to do with the football program. I can tell you that story, because it is my own. I didn’t grow up a Seminole. I didn’t grow up a fan of the Noles. I didn’t know the fight song at the first game, and I didn’t know too much about Bobby Bowden either (blasphemy, I know). I knew it would be fun to watch good football, live and consistently for the first time in my life (I had only been to one Jets game as a child in Connecticut). But, the football team had nothing to do with me going to FSU. It had nothing to do with thousands of students that went to FSU.
What happened was a perfect storm of events. An improving athletics situation, combined with the boom of the 1990′s and the ability to bring in money to expand campus, plus exploding television coverage of EVERYTHING including college sports and tossed with the explosion of the Internet, bloggers, Tweeters and everything else. Does anyone really think I’d be a fan of Boise State University if they weren’t on ESPN in the middle of the week? Sure it’s ONE WAY people hear about a university, but it’s not the only way. There are thousands of parties responsible for making FSU a popular destination for graduating high school seniors. If you’re a Nole, you’re part of it. You’re part of spreading that word and taking care of the FSU community. The success of FSU isn’t attributable to one man. Let’s remember that as we start a new decade and make more history together as Seminoles.