Bowden: 'It's probably best if I get away'

Updated: December 9, 2009, 3:52 PM ET
By Mark Schlabach | ESPN.com

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who was forced to resign last week, said Tuesday that he probably won't return to the school as a fundraiser next year.

Florida State president T.K. Wetherell and athletic director Randy Spetman asked Bowden, 80, to return to FSU as an "ambassador" for the football program after he coaches his last game against West Virginia in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on New Year's Day.

"I'll probably weigh other options," Bowden said during a teleconference with reporters on Tuesday. "It's probably best if I get away from FSU."

Bowden, whose 388 career victories trail only Penn State's Joe Paterno as major college football's winningest coach, said he has told incoming coach Jimbo Fisher that he would have his office cleaned out before the Seminoles return from the Gator Bowl.

Bowden said he also didn't want FSU officials to honor his career during a game at Doak Campbell Stadium next season. When FSU announced Bowden's retirement on Dec. 1, Wetherell said in a statement that he hoped the athletic department would plan a celebration and recognition for Bowden during a game in 2010.

"I don't need my back stroked," Bowden said. "I don't have an ego problem, I don't think. I appreciate their concern and thoughts, but I don't have to have that."

Bowden said he insisted on coaching FSU in the Gator Bowl because he didn't want to quit on his players.

"I didn't think it would be fair to the boys," Bowden said. "I thought it would be like I was running off on them."

He also said that he won't apologize for going to a Jan. 1 bowl despite a 6-6 record. He said the Seminoles are fortunate to go to the bowl but pointed out that FSU was left without a bowl invite in 1978 despite an 8-3 mark.

Bowden said he and his wife, Anne, will probably keep their house in Tallahassee, Fla., but plan to relocate to their condominium at Panama City Beach, Fla., or will find a new home in their hometown of Birmingham, Ala.

Bowden, who is heavily involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, said he planned to embark on a speaking tour after retiring from coaching.

"I've always said I don't want to be in Tallahassee [after retiring]," Bowden said. "I don't want to be over the coach's shoulder. I don't want to do that."

Bowden said he hoped FSU fans would support Fisher, his offensive coordinator, who was named Bowden's eventual successor near the end of the 2007 season. It will be Fisher's first head-coaching job.

"As soon as I get out of here, they've got to jump on his bandwagon," Bowden said. "They've got to support him every way they can. They've got to do that, and I think they will. That's one of the reasons I want to get out of town. I don't want to be here and him sitting there in my shadow."

Bowden was forced to resign by school officials after the Seminoles finished 6-6 in his 34th season at FSU. It was the third time in four seasons that FSU lost six games or more.

Bowden said he planned to coach the Seminoles in 2010 but wasn't given that option by school officials. Bowden said he hoped to turn around FSU before leaving, like Paterno did at Penn State.

"I'm just like an old fighter," Bowden said. "I'm like [Evander] Holyfield. I'm like Joe Louis. You always think you have one more fight you can win."

Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Mark Schlabach | email

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