Bowden to return for 33rd season at FSU; Fisher in line to replace him
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher will succeed Bobby Bowden as Florida State's next football coach -- someday.
President T.K. Wetherell designated offensive coordinator Fisher as "head coach-in waiting," but skipped out of a somewhat unusual news conference Monday without answering questions about the contracts that are not yet finalized.
Bowden, major college football's winningest coach, agreed to return for a 33rd season with options to stay longer.
"Every year I'll just re-sign it and tell 'em if I want to coach another year," Bowden said. "I couldn't ask for anything better than that."
Bowden, Fisher and interim athletic director Bill Proctor all skirted questions about what Proctor described as "agreement[s] in principle" that give "stability to our program."
Florida State has struggled in recent seasons under head coach Bobby Bowden. A look at the Seminoles' record over the last 20 seasons:
Bowden, 78, said he supported the plan brought to him last week by the president and Proctor, who have both known the coach since the early 1960s.
"I think it's a great plan," Bowden said. "Hey, when you get 78 years of age, it's hard to say how you're going out, but we've got a plan. It kind of all started with my contract.
Bowden, whose present five-year deal with the school expires in three weeks, made just over $2 million in 2006, state records show.
"My position hasn't changed. As long as I'm healthy. [And] If I can win enough games."
It's the falloff in wins in recent years that has increased focus on Bowden's age.
Replacing A Legend
Whenever Jimbo Fisher (pictured) replaces Bobby Bowden as Florida State's head coach, he'll be stepping in for one of the all-time greats.
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"I do have an obligation to the university to win enough ball games,'' said Bowden, who is 14-11 the past two seasons heading into a Dec. 31 Music City Bowl game against Kentucky.
Fisher, a disciple of the Bowden coaching family who played and coached for Terry Bowden, spent much of his time praising the family patriarch and avoiding details on what exactly he agreed to.
"This gives me some peace," said Fisher, who has not been a head coach before. "I'm content to wait for it."
Terry Bowden, who has been out of coaching for a decade since being fired at Auburn, helped persuade Fisher to take the offensive coordinator's job earlier this year. The job opened when younger brother Jeff Bowden was bought out by dissatisfied boosters late in the 2006 season.
A West Virginia native, Fisher was paid roughly $420,000 as offensive coordinator this year. He is receiving a $200,000 annual raise to wear the successor title and will be paid $2.5 million if for some reason Wetherell changes his mind about Bowden's successor, said an individual familiar with the negotiations, who requested anonymity.
The individual said Bobby Bowden could earn up to $2.5 million with incentives included in the agreement being finalized by Florida State's general counsel, Betty Steffens, and attorneys for the coaches.
Bowden has 300 wins at Florida State, where he has won a pair of national championships and a dozen Atlantic Coast Conference titles.
Bowden's 373 career wins are two more than Penn State's Joe Paterno, who turns 81 on Dec. 21.
"If I'm the head coach here for 37 years and win 10 games a year, I still haven't caught him," Fisher said. "That kind of puts it into perspective."
But he too recognized the uncertainty that goes along with a head coaching job in an era of million dollar contracts that create a "win-now" mentality among boosters and fans.
"One of these days I'll be sitting there and you'll be trying to kick me out the door," Fisher said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press