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Former FSU PLAYER throws Bowden under the bus


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Former Florida State player speaks out on Bowden

October 13th, 2009 By Patrick Green

Recently, Florida State University’s Board of Trustees chairman Jim Smith told reporters that head football coach Bobby Bowden should retire at the end of this season, turning the head coaching duties over to long-time offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

Many have weighed in on the discussion, as was visible during the Seminoles’ Saturday night contest against ACC foe Georgia Tech. FSU entered the stadium locked in arms with their head coach, fans held adoring signs for their general, and even the governor lent his support prior to the game.

Despite the cry of solidarity, FSU fell 49-44 to the Yellow Jackets, leaving Bowden’s club with a lowly 2-4 record, including a winless mark in ACC play in three tries. With such an uphill climb for the 79-year-old who has coached in Tallahassee since 1976, this discussion will likely persist through the season.

Draft********** staff writer Patrick Green had a chance to speak with Roland Seymour, a former Seminole who played under Bowden from 1997-2000. The Louisiana native starred for FSU at defensive end on the 1999 national championship team that went 12-0. Injuries, however, saddled Seymour’s collegiate career. After being named a Freshman All-American, he missed several games with shoulder and knee related injuries. In fact, he played just one game his senior year. Since leaving Florida State, Seymour has worked in real estate and youth mentoring.

Talk about your experience at Florida State under Bobby Bowden.

My experiences with Bobby Bowden at Florida State – some were good , some weren’t. Honestly, I had more bad experiences with him toward the end of my career. Do I think he is a good coach? Yeah. Do I think he is more of a politician than a coach? Yes. Bobby Bowden is not hands on with his players and some of his players he does not even know by name. During my experience, he had a set of good coaches in terms of a John Lilly (Recruiting Coordinator) and Jim Gladden (Defensive Line Ends coach.) who actually handpicked a lot of the defensive ends who were very meaningful to the program. He retired in 2001, and since he retired we may have had one defensive end drafted in the first round.

What were your immediate thoughts when you heard Jim Smith’s comments about Coach Bowden retiring?

He should have retired a long time ago. The only reason he is still coaching is because Joe Paterno is still coaching. It is his ego. That’s more of what is keeping him going than the love of the game. The game has passed him by. He should have retired around 2004-2005. Since I left, we have only had one 10 win season. In all fairness, he has an outstanding record in terms of wins and losses. Obviously, from 1993-2000, he had a stretch. But sometimes, in the big games, his conservatism was what got us beat. I think where we are as a program now, he definitely needs to retire.

You don’t think he should retire when he’s ready?

He’s living on his laurels. He’s not basing anything on recent success. If I am a player and I don’t get the job done, it’s time to make a change. When you are an employee, you can’t say when it’s your time to leave. He’s not his own employee. He works for the school. In the last 10 years, he hasn’t lived up to the standard that he’s built. He tried to replace me with a player who was hurt and I didn’t have a say in it. He bad mouthed me to the NFL, saying things that weren’t called for. He’s turned his back on several players. I feel like, ok, it’s happening to you now and you can’t deal with it.

How do you feel about Jimbo Fisher being tagged as a coach-in waiting?

The whole coach-in-waiting deal lets them (FSU) off the hook. With that, they don’t have to go through the process of trying to hire a minority head coach. They don’t have to actually interview a black coach because the coach-in-waiting system is in place. Bottom line, it lets them off the hook. I really feel that is the motivation. Jimbo Fisher is a great offensive coordinator. We haven’t seen him as a head coach and don’t know what type of skills he has. I am not going to say that he wouldn’t be a good head coach. I don’t know that.

Did you experience or sense any form of racial tension while there?

It wasn’t as much about race as it was about place. If you were an African American guy who carried himself in a way that the coaching staff didn’t deem to be marketable, they would treat you differently. If you weren’t a part of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes,) they didn’t treat you the same way. Case in point, I was an outspoken guy, but because Jamal Reynolds was more of a ‘yes sir,’ and ‘no sir’ type of guy, he embodied the image they wanted to market. I was deemed as a guy who wasn’t actually marketable. He wasn’t a better football player than me. But Florida State is not going for football players; they’re going for image. Guys want to play football. They don’t want to feel like they have to be a politician in order to play. Why does what I wear or how I look have anything to do with me playing? Really, if you weren’t in FCA, you were looked at as a thug or a trouble maker, and they treated you as such.

Do you think much has changed since your own experience?

Right now, they don’t even look like the same type of athletes as before. It’s sad. The tradition that was built is dying. They don’t even look like the same type of football players. Nobody I played with has really made an impact in the NFL. You’ve got Peter Boulware, Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett, and maybe a few others. That’s not substantial. We’ve got athletes but something is not translating to the NFL. The LSU’s, Miami’s, Georgia’s, USC’s, Ohio State’s - they have impact players in the draft and in the league consistently. Something about what Florida State is doing is just not translating to the next level.

What do you think has been the biggest reason for this? Is it recruiting?

Recruits notice things. They (FSU) don’t treat their former players with respect once they leave. I live in Texas and I have gotten to see how the University of Texas operates regarding former players. I see how Mac Brown, who is a class guy, handles his players when they leave. They’re always welcomed back. It’s a family atmosphere. At Florida State, after you give your four years to the program and once you leave, you’re kicked to the curb. With FSU, it’s always about the program and never about the player. I feel like if you don’t treat your players right, how can you expect a player who went through your program to say something good about you when they haven’t been treated right. I have seen guys who probably should have been first-rounders not go in the first round based upon what the coaching staff and medical staff say about them because of a personal vendetta. Players don’t feel welcome and they feel used once they leave. Kids want their coach to be about them and not about the program and that’s why you see those players that might have been at Florida State ending up at Miami or South Florida. They don’t take care of their former players.

Take care of in what way?

I’m still walking around with a knee injury from Florida State that hasn’t been fixed yet and they refused to do it. I lost my championship ring and jerseys in Hurricane Katrina and they didn’t even want to replace the stuff. I got a letter saying it was nothing they could do about it, saying I would have to contact the company that made it and pay for it. It wasn’t like, ‘how’s your family?’ I’m watching them on television while watching the Florida Sate-Miami game and hear them asking for donations to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and here it is I went through your program and you won’t even replace the items I earned. Everybody fall upon hard times. FSU made more than 70 million dollars during my time there. I’m not saying they need to pay me. But only about 2 percent of the guys that play make it to the NFL. What are the other guys supposed to do? If I can’t come to you and you can’t put me in touch with a guy to get me a job, what does that say? If you are not in the NFL, you can’t even stand on the sideline. They won’t even acknowledge the fact that I benefited the program. It’s an unspoken culture. I love Florida State but hate the administration. Bobby Bowden has got to go.

What path would you encourage the school to take at this point?

Florida State has a bad culture. If I had to get one guy to right the ship, it would be Derrick Brooks – as athletic director or director of football, something. To me, he is the one person that exemplifies what Florida State football is – toughness, smarts, hard work, credibility, integrity, getting it done. He’s going to give 110 percent to get it done and is going to require 110 percent from the people he works with. He’s a bottom line kind of guy. As far as coaches, they have the resources to get anyone they want.

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interesting to see that fsu has high school football-esque politics. the part about bobby bowden not even knowing some of his players' names is inexcusable imo.

i do agree that the main reason he won't retire is bc of his ego, but most of what this guy said is completely different from what bobby bowden himself said (ie 'i wanted to remind them that this game shouldn't be played for me, it should be played for them'), so its difficult to see whats indeed truthful and what this guy is saying just bc of a sour relationship with fsu.

the thought of derrick brooks in the administration would certainly be interesting tho..

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I'm not necessarily disagreeing about Bowden needing to go, but this guy sounds like hes got a bad case of sour grapes. The guys goes into talking about not being marketable because of the way he acts and talks....duh, you don't market one of the top colleges in the world around a thug. He also goes on talking about the reason Jimbo Fisher is the "head coach in waiting" is because they want to avoid interviewing minorities, sure that makes great sense.

He bad mouthed me to the NFL, saying things that weren’t called for.

Come on, how did he hear this? In all honesty, Bowden may have and I could see why he would say negative things about him, it was probably something along the lines of Roland is a selfish egotistical player that is injury prone...I can understand that.

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