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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
A plan to anoint Jimbo Fisher as Bobby Bowden's eventual successor, ensuring a more seamless transition in leadership for the Florida State football program, is apparently all but complete.
A news conference has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday.
FSU president T.K. Wetherell was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but he told a reporter for Warchant.com at a Seminole Booster function Tuesday in Jacksonville that "there's a plan in place" for Bowden's replacement and that FSU wasn't going to lose Fisher.
"I'm pretty sure he's had several offers and he'll have more," Wetherell said of the offensive coordinator, referring to rumored interest in him from Arkansas and Southern Mississippi.
"He's clearly one of the outstanding coaches in America. He understands the X's and O's and can help turn a program around. He needs to work on a couple things and I think he understands that and FSU is the place for him to do it. So we are going to give him these opportunities."
Several FSU officials have confirmed that negotiations have been going on with Fisher and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, on a new deal that would help guarantee Fisher would remain in Tallahassee.
The deal, likely to be for three years, would mean both a considerable increase in his paycheck - perhaps a couple hundred thousand more annually from the $425,000 his current three-year contract pays, although ESPN.com reported it would be for nearly $1-million annually. At the $625,000 range, he would be paid more than most head coaches in the non-BCS leagues.
The deal apparently will include a lucrative payment - believed to be a little more than $1-million - from FSU if Fisher didn't get the job once Bowden retires or at the end of the three years. If Fisher left early for another job, he would owe the same amount to the school as a buyout.
Fisher, 42, has never been a head coach, but he's affable and approachable much like his boss and has many of the same football philosophies; he played and coached for Terry Bowden. Fisher is also a proven recruiter, the lifeblood for any program.
That is perhaps one reason why school officials have zeroed in on him as Bowden's heir. Plus, were he to leave now, what is shaping up as a top-shelf recruiting class could take a hit. A Fisher departure also would force Bowden to remake his staff for a second straight year and that wouldn't allow the team to build on any improvement from 2006.
Neither Fisher nor his agent returned calls to the Times on Wednesday.
Bowden, 78, has said he's not a fan of naming a coach-in-waiting a strategy that several schools have used of late with men's basketball, including Oklahoma State and Washington State, and he would have to sign off on it. He wasn't available for comment, either.
Bowden has maintained he's not even thinking about retiring and Wetherell has consistently said that Bowden has essentially a "lifetime contract." But Bowden's current contract expires in January and, in an unusual move for him in his FSU tenure, just agreed to a one-year, $2.5-million deal, which stipulates a $1-million bonus whenever he does leave.
"There's no intention that it (the one-year contract) is (meant as) an exit for him," said Bill Proctor, the special assistant to the president for athletics who will be the interim athletic director when Dave Hart leaves on Dec. 31.