Bowden: Promoting son was the right decision

Published November 20, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - As strange as it may sound when you consider the shock waves that hit his program, Bobby Bowden didn't necessarily view last week as one of his toughest as a coach.

"It might have been a relief," he said Sunday morning in his first extensive comments on son Jeff's resignation Tuesday as offensive coordinator. "Seeing your son pounded year after year after year and every blame goes on him, it might have been a relief in that regard."

He's sure Jeff shares that feeling. But that's not to suggest he wanted his son to take such a drastic, unexpected step.

The elder Bowden said he arrived home at 2 a.m. after the 30-0 home loss to Wake Forest on Nov. 11 to find wife Ann, son Steve and Jeff waiting for him. That's when Jeff told his dad he thought he ought to resign.

"Nah. I don't want you to," Bowden said he told him. "Let's finish the season ... and see what happens. Don't do it."

But by 10 a.m. Monday, Jeff told his dad that he had met with athletic director Dave Hart. The public announcement came the next day, in part, to take the heat off his father who had staunchly supported him.

"That's the only thing I hate about it; I think he did it for me," the father said. "He thinks he's hurting me. He thinks he's hurting me and naturally y'all do, too. But I don't."

Jeff Bowden, whose last day is Nov. 26, one day after the regular-season finale against No. 4 Florida, will receive the rest of his annual salary about $141,000 and $537,000 from Seminole Boosters over five years.

Bobby Bowden, who reiterated he would still promote Jeff if he had it to do over again, uncharacteristically vented about the role the media played in Jeff's struggles as coordinator the past six seasons and his decision to quit.

"Y'all ignited it," he said. "You listened to (the Internet) and e-mail and all that junk. Y'all kept writing about it. It fans it; makes it grow and grow and grow and it becomes a cancer."

As for filling the job, he said he's mulling over names, probably would make inquiries to other schools after the Florida game and move quickly.

"But the most important thing is to get the right man, no matter what recruits think," he said. "If I bring the wrong man in, I've got to suffer with it for three or four more years. ... (I want) the best offensive person I can find. But I don't want to talk about this that much. Now look. I've got four coaches up there wondering if they got a job, so I don't want to discuss too much about what I'm thinking because it might affect them."

NO SURGERY: Sophomore tailback Antone Smith said he won't need surgery on his dislocated right elbow and "may make it back in time for a bowl." He'll begin a rehabilitation regiment today of running in a pool to maintain conditioning, squeezing a tennis ball to work on his grip (his fingers were puffy) and icing.

ANOTHER QB DECISION: Bowden said that after Saturday's win against Western Michigan, he's "more likely" to start Xavier Lee at quarterback against the Gators. Bowden also expressed concerns that Drew Weatherford's right foot still might be affecting him. "He doesn't look as consistent as he was a year ago," Bowden said. "Maybe that'll come back."

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