Iowa State’s defense isn’t the only thing on Wally Burnham’s mind these days.
Like many in the coaching profession, the Cyclone defensive coordinator is disappointed with Florida State’s treatment of longtime head coach Bobby Bowden, who has come under fire this season because of his team’s poor performance.
The chairman of the school’s board of trustees came out publicly saying Bowden, who will turn 80 next month, should retire after the season.
The Seminoles (3-3, 1-2 ACC) rallied to beat North Carolina last Thursday night for their first conference victory, but are off to their worst start since Bowden’s first season in 1976.
Since then he’s won two national championships, 12 ACC titles and 384 games, second all-time to Penn State’s Joe Paterno.
He’s earned the right to leave on his own terms, said Burnham, a Bowden assistant for nine years, his last coming during FSU’s national title-winning season of 1993.
“That’s just ridiculous that he’s had to go through that,” Burnham said. “He is to that institution what Tom Osborne is to Nebraska, what Darrel Royal is to Texas and what Bear Bryant is to Alabama. Let him call his own shot. He deserves that.
“You won’t find a better man that Bobby Bowden. He’s a Christian man, he’s a family man. It’s a shame, I think.”
Bowden’s contract gives him the option to return in 2010.
FSU defensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has been chosen as Bowden’s successor. The coach already is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and has taken the Seminoles to 27 straight bowl games.
The program has fallen on hard times of late. FSU hasn’t won more than nine games in a season since 2003.
“The recruiting has really fallen behind, for whatever reason,” Burnham said. “Florida’s gotten so far ahead of all of (the state schools). They really have.”
There’s a chance Bowden’s 37th season as head coach will be his last. That may not be up to him, however.
“We hope and pray that he sticks in there and does what he wants to do,” Burnham said. “If he wants to go, let him go. If he wants to coach another year, let him coach. He deserves it in my opinion.”