If Bobby Bowden & Joe Paterno were dinner guests, it'd be about the 1:00 AM hour. They had been great guests for the most part. They told laugh-out-loud-funny jokes & some of the best stories you'd ever heard. You enjoyed having them around. But it is PAST time for them to go.
Paterno brought Penn State back to elite status this season. They were a legitimate part of the National Championship chase. After 4 losing seasons in a 5 year stretch earlier this decade, Joe-Pa has rattled off 40 wins in the last 4 years. They're going to the Rose Bowl this year. Even though all that ink was spilled earlier this decade talking about how Joe had lost his mojo, he's proven that he still has it.
So why not go out on top? I don't want to remember Joe Paterno limping out the door because he's not agile enough anymore to evade football players crashing into the sideline. Joe had to spend much of this season up in the press box, getting around with crutches. If he doesn't step down, that'll probably happen again & again. That's not how I want to remember Joe-Pa. I want to remember him coaching the Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl & then riding off into the sunset.
Same goes for Bowden. The Florida State football program has been in steady decline this entire decade. Momentum is seeping from the program. Recruiting is still going well, but that talent isn't getting developed. There doesn't appear to be the same drive -- the same fire -- that was a part of this program in the 80's and 90's. It's plainly evident everywhere, even in Coach Bowden's speeches. I mean, my goodness... this is pathetic:
Oh, so we're gonna have to fight tonight? And-and... execution? Got it, coach. Thanks for the inspiration. Really fired me up.
There's no sign that Coach Bowden can do anything to turn this thing around. Bobby isn't suddenly going to sprout more ambition. If he sticks around for next season, he will turn EIGHTY years old! The fire is gone and it's not coming back.
FSU has a coach-in-waiting that other schools keep trying to interview every offseason anyway. That is a coach with ability. He can recruit, he can motivate, and he can scheme with X's and O's. That's also a coach with enough youth & ambition to re-energize FSU with the fuel it needs to become a contender again.
I think that the athletic directors of Penn State & Florida State would do well to get together and end this public rivalry that holds both schools hostage. If they can't get Paterno & Bowden out this year, then say to them, "You both get one more year. That's it and that's all." I guarantee that both schools would get biggest work ethic out of those two old coaches; there would be a fire present that those programs had not been seen probably in decades. Neither one of them wants to be on the short end of the totem pole. So they would work their rear ends off to go out on top. It would be a glorious end for both of them.
Come on, Coach Bowden & Coach Paterno. We're on the wrong side of midnight here. It's time to go.