FSU Demise at Urgent Level

When the 2000 season ended Florida State was arguable the top college football program in the nation. The Seminoles had just concluded its 14th consecutive season of 10-plus wins and top five finishes in both national polls.

The Noles had won a pair of national titles and had played for three more and had just played in their third straight BCS Title Game. Not only that, but they were also recruiting at a high level year in and year out.

But the Noles lost Mark Richt after the 2000 BCS Game loss to Oklahoma and the Seminoles never recovered. In the eight-plus seasons since that game FSU has won 69 games and lost 39. They have had just one 10-win season in that time (10-3 in '03) and have slipped to the fourth best team in the state. In the last four-plus seasons FSU is 33-24, but 14 of those wins have come against non BCS conference schools making the Noles 19-24 against teams in the BCS leagues.

Eight years ago Bobby Bowden was a surprisingly alert and engaged 72-year old coach. Now the Seminoles' mentor looks every bit of his 80 years. The fact that FSU spent the entire off-season fighting the NCAA over being told to vacate 14 wins than it did preparing for the 2009 season. No one should ever be bigger than the program, but that's what has happened in Tallahassee.

The Future is Now

FSU cannot afford to wait until Bowden decides to step down. They should make a clear, unequivocal statement today that Bowden's coaching career will end in Gainesville on November 28. It would be remarkable that both Bowden and Tim Tebow make their final appearance at The Swamp on the same day. They should also plan for "Bobby Bowden Day" at Doak Campbell Stadium for some time in January to pay tribute to the man who put their program on the national stage. But they need to do it right away.

I'm not convinced that Jimbo Fisher is the right man to return the FSU program to national prominence, but with a $5 million buyout it would be irresponsible not to give him the opportunity. Seminoles fans are probably hoping the offensive-minded Fisher has an offensive coordinator in mind to take over play calling duties --- at least when they get near the goal line. It's hard to find much to praise about the FSU offense under his direction, but the contractual commitment will override all other issues.

Fisher's first job will be the purge the coaching staff and put together a group of young, hungry assistants who will be relentless recruiters. FSU has too much going for it to be a middle of the pack ACC team and getting back to the top starts with personnel.

With three losses in five games and an 0-2 start in conference play there's not much to salvage for the 2009 campaign and there's no longer any reason to delay the inevitable. Florida State has to start moving forward. It's already taken enough steps back.

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