Seminole Nation Reacts

Around the same time that Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was addressing a luncheon group of boosters and season ticket holders on Monday afternoon, a pair of university employees were busy tending to one byproduct of a hot-button topic that no one in Bowden's audience had the guts to bring up.

That would be Bowden's youngest son, offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden.

A target for scorn since his appointment to the post five seasons ago, the younger Bowden has faced his toughest criticism to date in the past week following FSU's 34-7 loss at Florida.

That pair of workers managed to remove a bedsheet that was hung from a fence adjacent to the football complex and painted with a simple message: "FIRE JEFF BOWDEN".

Across the street, Bobby Bowden stepped down from the podium and briefly addressed a handful of reporters.

"He's smart enough to pay any attention to this."

OUTCRY IN THE SEMINOLE NATION

That sheet is just one of the more creative avenues that Florida State fans have utilized to express their frustrations regarding the current three-game losing streak that their Seminoles are enduring.

Online message boards are another. Posters on Warchant.com and Renegade Report.com – the two largest FSU fan sites – have flooded cyberspace to make their feelings known.

Viewpoints are varied, but a poll on RenegadeReport.com expresses unanimous disapproval for the manner in which Bowden has handled criticism of his son. Over the weekend, the coaching veteran called the controversy "crap", saying that his critics were only after a "hanging".

Jeff Cameron, a sports talk radio host in the Tallahassee market, has devoted upwards of three hours of his program per day to taking calls on the subject over the past week.

"It's obvious that there are some changes that need to be made," said Andrew Aiello, 23, an FSU junior who frequents the Cameron show and the Warchant.com message boards. "I'm not sure who's paying attention, but it's good that there are some ways to vent."

The disillusionment among some FSU alumni is even more intense outside of Tallahassee.

"We're at a crossroads," said Gary Van Sciver, 37, an executive who graduated with the class of 1990. "The decision is simple. FSU football tradition is on hold until Bobby decides that Jeff has to go. (Jeff) is like the awkward 12-year old playing shortstop because his dad is the Little League coach."

James Sweeney, the head football coach at Father Lopez and an FSU graduate, has been more patient than some. A change, no matter who is in charge, might be necessary.

"They've had ample time to turn this around," Sweeney said. "For whatever reason that hasn't happened. Jeff shouldn't put this burden on his father – he needs to swallow his pride and step down. It's the right thing to do, guilty or not."

Nepotism aside, several other critics have pointed out the glaring lack of production on the offensive side of the ball for FSU. In the five seasons since Mark Richt left to take the head coaching job at Georgia, FSU's offensive numbers have steadily declined, bottoming out two seasons ago when the Seminoles were 63rd in the nation in total offense.

Radio analyst and former quarterback Peter Tom Willis called the FSU scheme a "high school offense" during its 35-14 drubbing at Clemson. ABC analyst and Orlando radio host Terry Bowden termed it "jumpball, only".

"In my mind, this is dependant more on performance," FSU President T.K. Wetherell said Monday. "I'm sure that's what coach Bowden is looking at.

"When we were 5-0 nobody was talking about it."

FOUNDATION STILL STRONG

Perhaps the most critical opinions are those of the 13 high school talents who have pledged their services to play for the Seminoles via oral commitments.

One is Caz Piurowski, a coveted tight end from Land O" Lakes who is also an FSU legacy. Piurowski was sitting in a group of about three dozen recruits last weekend at Florida Field.

"I was miserable," said Piurowski, whose father Paul was an all-American linebacker at FSU. "But this hasn't affected by thinking at all. It's just been frustrating because we started off the season so hot.

"My mom's a good cook, but if she runs out of an important ingredient, she's not very good at it. That's part of what has happened at FSU."

Myron Rolle, the top safety prospect in the nation according to Scout.com, agreed with that mentality. Rolle, a 4.0 student, is set to graduate early and enroll in January.

"I did a lot of research when I made my decision and I'm still confident that the choice I made was the right one," Rolle said. "I'm going to continue to work the phones of other recruits in the hopes that they realize the same thing I did – FSU is bound for success in the future."

HIS TERMS

Now finishing his 30th season in Tallahassee, Bobby Bowden is a fixture that likely won't be headed anywhere soon – two years remain on his $2 million a year contract.

Motivations still remain. FSU undoubtedly has the talent to win a third national title under his watch. Bowden – the Division I career wins leader – has Penn State coach Joe Paterno to worry about again. Thanks to a resurgent season, Paterno trails Bowden's 358-win total by just five.

Whatever the case, no amount of scrutiny from the media or fans will cause Bowden not to make decisions affecting the program be built on his own terms.

"They can say what they want," Bowden said. "But there is one thing ya'll know – I'm not going to let public opinion tell me what to do. I'm going to do what I think is right."

ANOTHER MOBILE QB

The last time Florida State faced a quarterback with mobility like Virginia Tech QB Marcus Vick the game ended with a less than favorable result.

The 26-21 loss to Virginia, the Seminoles first of the season, was due in part to QB Marques Hagans' ability to avoid Florida State's pass rush, buying enough time till receivers were open.

"Hopefully, (Vick) won't do to us what Hagans did to us," said CB JR Bryant.

The Seminoles use a special defensive set, called "plaster," when facing athletic quarterbacks. If the quarterback starts to scramble, the free safety will make the call and the defense adjusts its coverage.

"When you go against a quarterback that is not mobile you prepare for one route," said graduate assistant James Colzie. "Now, a guy like Vick, you're preparing yourself for at least two or three different routes."

Any rush that Florida State puts on Vick will have to come without its top DE Kamerion Wimbley. When the Seminoles lost to the Cavaliers, the team was missing starting DE Darrell Burston and suffering from depth issues on the line because of injuries to reserve players.


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