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Wetherell: Complaints won't sway FSU's support of Bowden

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published November 5, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - Florida State president T.K. Wetherell reiterated Saturday morning that fan reaction, good, bad or ugly, isn't among the major factors in evaluating any sports program at the school.

Of late, football and its icon coach Bobby Bowden have drawn sharp criticism from fans and boosters.

In a three-week period in October, coinciding with losses to North Carolina State and Boston College, Wetherell received about 180 letters and e-mails related to the program. He ordinarily gets about 300-350 pieces of correspondence a day on all subjects. About 70 fans called for him to ask Bowden to resign or force him to do so; about 50 supported Bowden. Most of the rest urged Wetherell to prompt Bowden to make staff changes.

"It's not just about wins and losses," he said.

Some fans even threatened to withhold money or not renew season tickets.

"If someone doesn't want to be at Florida State (for games), don't come," Wetherell said.

Though Bowden, who turns 77 Wednesday, has just one season left on his contract, Wetherell said that's not an issue, that his coach has essentially a "rolling" deal and Bowden hasn't expressed any concerns about it. (Bowden did ask for an extension a few years ago when he feared other schools might use it against him in recruiting.)

"If he wants to extend the contract, we'll extend the contract," he said. "Bobby Bowden will coach at Florida State, it's just that simple and we'll get the best football players."

ANOTHER BIG GAME: FSU senior receiver Chris Davis (St. Petersburg Catholic) had four catches for 77 yards, the third straight game he has led the team in receiving yards. That included a 37-yard touchdown. He also had a career-best 68 yards on five punts.

INJURIES MOUNT: As if the defense weren't banged up enough, sophomore linebacker Rodney Gallon, pressed into a starting job but coming off a strong game at Maryland, had a neck injury (likely a stinger) in the second quarter. A play later, backup safety Darius McClure separated his left shoulder. Neither returned.

MOVING ON UP: Junior linebacker Lawrence Timmons had 11/2 tackles for a loss, giving hin 131/2 this season and moving him into 10th on the FSU single-season list. He passed Marvin Jones and Ron Simmons.

AWARD WATCH: FSU junior Gary Cismesia is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker. He has made 28 of 29 extra points and 11 of 13 field goals.

FAMILIAR FACE: Former All-America defensive tackle Corey Simon, deactivated by Indianapolis this season, attended. He didn't elaborate on what happened with the Colts, but looked fit (not the rumored 350 pounds) and said he's in town for a few months to work out, work with his foundation and do mentoring in a middle school.

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or at (813) 226-3347.