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Bobby Bowden’s message to FSU? ‘Stay in the ACC’

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One very powerful Florida State official — and the board he chairs — has publicly stated that his school should listen to overtures from the Big 12 if they come.  One former trustee has publicly stated that those overtures have already come, and they came from the Big 12.

On two occasions since all ‘Nole broke loose over the weekend, FSU president Eric Barron has attempted to tap the breaks on the rampant speculation, and has even made a very strong case to boosters and alumni for the athletic programs to remain in the ACC.  While it may not matter as much now as it would’ve even a few years ago, Barron’s pro-ACC stance has one big supporter in the form of the man responsible for turning the Seminoles football program into a national powerhouse.

In an interview that will air Sunday morning at 9 a.m. ET on the SiriusXM show College Sports from All Angles with Jack Arute, Arute asks ex-FSU head coach Bobby Bowden what his message would be to his former school in regards to future conference affiliation.  His response?  In essence, get your football program in better shape and get back to ruling the ACC before even thinking about moving to a higher-quality football conference.

“My message would be stay in the ACC,” Bowden told Arute in a transcript provided by SiriusXM. “Do you want to win a National Championship at Florida State?  You’ve got a better chance in the ACC than you have in the Big 12, or even the SEC.

“You say, ‘Well, gosh, they’re much stronger in those conferences.’  Yeah!  They beat up on each other and you can’t hardly get there.  You know what?  Florida State, wait ‘til you get good enough to rule the ACC then you start looking for someplace to jump.  But my opinion?  They should stay right where they are.”

Those comments will likely not sit well with FSU supporters, some (most?) of whom blame the current state of the football program on Bowden and his decision to “cling” to the job until being forced out after the 2009 season.

Like Barron, Bowden cited increased travel costs in other, non-revenue sports as a reason for FSU to stay right where it is.  He also disputed claims made by Derrick Brooks, the former FSU All-American linebacker and former school trustee who stated during a radio interview Wednesday that “[a]s far as I know, the Big 12 reached out to us.”

“All this talk about Florida State, it kinda tickles me because, in the first place, I don’t think the Big 12 has even talked to Florida State,” Bowden said. “I could be wrong.  I hear different opinions.

“I think the president of Florida State is correct.  Florida State, you’re in the ACC, it’s a nice solid conference.  Stay with them.  You know, I can’t see Florida State joining the Big 12 to gain three million dollars.  How much is it going to cost to fly the girls’ soccer team, the girls’ basketball team, the boys’ baseball team out to Norman, Oklahoma, or out to Kansas to play?  They’ll gobble that three million up so quick they won’t know what it’s like.  I think we need to stay right where our base is, that’s right here on the east coast.”

It remains to be seen whether the people who are actually still in power at the school and will ultimately make the decision on conference affiliation, up to and including the board of trustees, concur with the line of thinking put out there for public consumption by Bowden and Barron.

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24 Responses to “Bobby Bowden’s message to FSU? ‘Stay in the ACC’”
  1. bobulated says: May 17, 2012 5:35 PM

    Although I agree with him, if FSU cared what Bobby thought he would still be the coach.

  2. pastabelly says: May 17, 2012 5:41 PM

    Bowden is speaking in terms of championships while all many at the school care about is tier 3 television rights.

  3. kansasbig12pride says: May 17, 2012 6:22 PM

    Yes, because Bobby Bowden is close to the University that fired him.

    Bobby’s opinion goes through one ear and out the other.

    Bobby also said “Don’t Fire Me”

    Look what happened.

  4. mountaineer50415 says: May 17, 2012 7:31 PM

    Yes they fired him. How is that working for FSU?
    They had better start listening to him. He knows if they can not beat Clemson, they can not beat anyone in the Big 12. At least they have a chance in the ACC. Even if the chance is a small one.
    They were crying about needing WV to pay them more, now they want to travel all over the US and spend millions to loose to different teams. If FSU doesn’t get their act together soon they will become a distant memory.
    This is not Bobby Bowden’s problem anymore. The buck stops on Jimbo’s desk.

  5. klownboy says: May 17, 2012 9:47 PM

    Amen to that mountaineer50415.

    FSU needs to concentrate on not being mediocre anymore…

  6. deadeye says: May 17, 2012 11:40 PM

    I think the dire straits that FSU is currently in (relatively speaking) can be traced to Bowden’s bad decisions. The first bad decision was to turn down the SEC back in 91. My how things would be different for them if they were now 20 year members.

    His second mistake was his disgraceful competition with JoePa to get the all time wins record at all costs. Both JoePa and Bowden glided their programs into mediocrity by the end of it all.

    Now FSU is stuck in a crappy conference, and has a very mediocre record over the last ten seasons. Their options are limited to continuing to suck, or jump over to a geographically incongruent conference. Well done Bobby!

  7. rollteal says: May 18, 2012 2:12 AM

    I couldn’t disagree more, I respect Coach Bowden and what he has done for the Florida State program but for has much good there was so much bad. 2 national championships with all of those teams there should have been 4 or 5 titles but it is what it is. Being a Member of the SEC when we had the chance would have changed the landscape of college football.

  8. frug says: May 18, 2012 2:58 AM

    @deadeye and rollteal

    If not for Bowden’s decision (and it was his decision) to have FSU join the ACC instead of the SEC they never would have gone on that epic run they had of 12 conference titles in 14 years including 9 straight from ’92 to ’00. Bowden (correctly) realized that FSU was better off padding its schedule with weak conference games and scheduling aggressively OOC than the reverse. In their first 9 seasons in the ACC they went 72-2 in conference play. Now FSU will never get back to that level (no team ever will) but Bowden’s point is valid; if FSU wants to get back to being a perennial contender the last thing they want to do is join the toughest conference top to bottom in the country.

  9. thegamecocker says: May 18, 2012 7:41 AM


    You become a perrenial power by playing the best teams. For the last 6 seasons, 5 of the 6 NC’s came from the SEC. For the record, I don’t recognize Auburn’s NC 2 years ago because they had an ineligible player…but I digress). Today, when FSU plays against Maryland, Wake, Duke, UVA, etc. the stadium are not filled at all. That’s part of the problem. The football in the ACC has become mediocre and does not compare to the SEC brand. If FSU would have become members of the SEC in ’91, they would not be in the financial squeeze they are in today. Imagine, 25% budget cuts on the all important ACADEMIC side of the ledger! Being affiliated academically with Duke, UVa, Ga Tech, Wake, etc. is fine. But it doesn’t PAY THE BILLS. Now, the academic rating of the school may change as a result of cuts! Yes, your 72-2 record upon joining the ACC is impressive. But that is ancient history and you’re now part of ACC mediocrity. I think Coach Bowden made an error in judgement persuading the then powers that be to join the ACC. He padded his win column, but left FSU in dire straits today. I want to personally thank him though, because Fla St decline is South Carolina’s gain! The bank account is healthy, the infrastructure and building at USC is on-going, the academics are thriving (#1 School of Int’l, Business), research dollars coming in, etc. And lately, we’ve owned Clemson in all sports. How you doing today Jonkybon…take those meds son!

  10. mountaineer50415 says: May 18, 2012 10:41 AM

    If FSU had joined the SEC, they would have never become a powerhouse. I still do not understand how they were a power to be reckoned with when they were beating people like Purdue, Wake, Clemson, and other basketball schools like NC State and NC. They truly were never a powerhouse.
    If they now join the SEC or the Big 12 they will go into a faint memeory. Who thinks of Kentucky, Miss.,Miss. St. or South Carolina as a powerhouse. None of them have ever, won the SEC outright. South Carolina snuck by last year as Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia were all down. When the top three of that section get back up S. C. will go back down again.
    If that is what FSU wants, then come on over to the Big 12 and get your buts kicked regularly.Maybe that would be better than getting it kicked by Clemson and Miami.

  11. thegamecocker says: May 18, 2012 11:17 AM


    You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but South Carolina has come light-years since joining in 1991. The facilities are 2nd to none: the W-B is an 80M+ stadium with expansion plans at the ready; just built a Ole Miss type “Grove” across the street from the W-B; brand new Basketball and Baseball venues, not to mention tennis facility and “the Graveyard” for soccer. Perhaps the reason those other schools you mentioned are “down”, is because South Carolina has risen. I’ve been to Columbia and visited the University 4 times in the past 18 months and I’m astonished by the physical plant and preservation / improvement made to the original footprint of Carolina. It remains to be seen what will happen athletically but I am most optimistic.

  12. mountaineer50415 says: May 18, 2012 11:29 AM

    To the gamecocker:

    I may be wrong, however, it is my observation that in the SEC all schools are treated equal as far as passing out money at the end of each year. Is this not true?
    If it is true, South Carolina being able to make substantial improvements does not mean they earned the bulk of the money they received.
    Looks like S.C. is benefiting from the NC titles of Alabama, Auburn and LSU. The difference between you and FSU is that no one in the ACC is winning NC titles. That does not make your team better than FSU. It simply makes you like a tick on the back of better schools.
    You are right, if that is what FSU wants they should join the SEC.

  13. donovandancy says: May 18, 2012 11:39 AM

    And if the Big 12 gives a travel stipend to its teams then Bobby’s concerns will be met. Now that the problem is solved, CBS can stop its campaign against FSU’s move.

  14. realitynole says: May 18, 2012 11:46 AM

    Mountaineer, I should know better than to debate with someone that has NO USE for facts, but here goes.

    Along the way to FSU’s 14 Top-4 finishes, they more than beat the likes of just Wake, UNC/NC St, Purdue(?), et al. We also beat the likes of Miami, UF (many times), Auburn, LSU (5 times +), WVU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, USC (Trojans), Nebraska (+++), and BYU to name a few.

    Please dispense with your revisionist history and resort to FACTS next time. I might also note how many of those above noted teams WERE SEC, and how many of them WERE NOT Ole Miss, Miss St, et al.

  15. thegamecocker says: May 18, 2012 11:49 AM


    I did not say South Carolina has a better team than Fla St. What I did say in an earlier post is that SC benefited by Fla St not accepting an invitation to join the SEC in 1991. That opened the door for SC to join that esteemed conference. It resulted in a financial boon to Carolina. We’ve contributed both academically and athletically to the SEC. Our Intl. School of Business is ranked #1 and has been in that position for many years. We’ve two NC in Baseball; our Football team has experienced great success particularly in the past two seasons; Women’s Basketball made it to the Sweet 16 this past season. I take offense with your comment that SC is but a tic on the back of ‘Bama, LSU, etc. I have not attacked the Mountaineers on any of my posts. In fact I’ve gone out of my way to defend your fine University. I just don’t think your comment was accurate or on the mark. It was unnecessary and unappreciated.

  16. rab02d says: May 18, 2012 12:58 PM

    The talks of moving to the Big 12 – or any conference for that matter – would be relevant if FSU had been dominating the ACC since VT and Miami joined. Until then, FSU owned the ACC. Bowden is right. Let’s worry about getting back to the days of bullying the ACC before talking about jumping ship.

    In response to the talks of who FSU should have joined in 1991, you have to remember what college football looked like back then. The ACC wasn’t exactly a push over. GT did finish as co-national champions and on top of the rankings in 1990, the year before FSU’s decision. I’m sure that weighed in a little.

    So saying Bowden’s decision to not join the SEC was bad given the current landscape doesn’t carry much weight in my opinion. Everything is cyclical. The SEC will be over-powered by another converence and the Big 12 will not always be considered the “best conference top to bottom.” Those programs will hit their slump someday just as FSU and the ACC currently has. When that happens, I’m sure the conversations will be “it was a great decision to stay in the ACC.”

  17. mountaineer50415 says: May 18, 2012 1:33 PM

    I simply do not like it when people say stupid things about Coach Bowden. He gave his life to FSU. He should get their respect. He is NOT the reason for FSUes fall in football.
    Jimbo has been their coach long enough to bring their team back to prominence. No matter what anyone says, they are not playing the most difficult schedule at this time. The difficult OCC games never made up for all the cream puff games they played during the season.
    When you only schedule one difficult game in an entire season, you can not scream foul when that is cancelled. Look at their complete schedule for next year and tell me which one is against a powerhouse.
    S.C. was brought into this discussion by the fan of S.C. If you do not have a dog in the discussion, do not discuss how FSU is different from SC.
    Once you do that you open yourself up for everyone else to say what they think about your comparison. This is a football blog. It has nothing to do with how smart you are. The only fans that talk about how smart they are are the fans of Notre Dame. They have nothing else to brag about. Is that your problem?

  18. abrellbama says: May 19, 2012 4:05 AM

    Gotta blame someone right? So you want to lay the blame on a HC that hasn’t even been there since the end of 2009. You guys sound pretty stupid to me. Why don’t you call it what it is, when Urban Meyer came to Florida in 2005, he won the recruiting battle and no matter what Bobby Bowden tried, his coaching staff just was a step behind Urban Meyer’s coaching staff. Wasn’t Coach Bowden’s fault. He wasn’t in the SEC. Urban Meyer was. And now, Will Muschamp and his coaching staff is starting to win the recruiting battles again. The ACC is a softer conference than the SEC because the SEC gets the better players, right at 1/3 of the ESPN 150 players choose the SEC teams every year. The NFL drafts more SEC players than ACC players because they are just better as a rule. Don’t blame Bobby Bowden. He brought FSU to prominence but while Urban Meyer reigned, he could not. You need to listen to Bobby Bowden and do as he says. GET BETTER and rule the ACC again like he used to and then think about joining another conference.

  19. thegamecocker says: May 19, 2012 7:15 AM


    Coach Bowden bleeds Fla St colors and he was a GREAT coach. In 1991 the school decided to join the ACC over the SEC. I’m sure Coach Bowden had a vote in that. All we’re saying is Fla St ruled and dominated the ACC when they first entered and for 10 years, maybe longer. But playing all those ACC mediocre teams ultimately caught up them. Their current OOC schedule is one of the worst I have ever seen. I would not pay $1 to see some of the teas on that schedule. It’s shameful. Even though Urban Meyer is gone, U. of Fla. will continue to win the recruiting wars b/c they play in the SEC where they play against better players, to your point. Muschamp is doing better, but I don’t see Fla St ever getting back to where they were in the ’90’s b/c they are in a mediocre football conference where Clemson, Va. Tech, & occasionally Ga Tech are on an even keel. Also, perception is reality and the ACC will ALWAYS be known as a BASKETBALL conference.

  20. mountaineer50415 says: May 19, 2012 9:57 AM

    I know from experience that playing a team, week after week, that you are supposed to slaughter is very demanding. It is almost impossable to get a team up for a game like that.
    However, if it is important for FSU to win the ACC conference, they will do at least enough to do that.
    If FSU really believes that they will suddenly become a better football team if they join the Big 12 or the SEC, then by all means join one of them. The first thing you need to do though is get invited. I have not heard a single word from eather the SEC or the Big 12. The only possitive comments have come from people at FSU.
    Would someone from the SEC or the Big 12 please raise your hand. Do you want FSU? If not tell them. The clock is ticking before they sue one of you for not lettting them know soon enough!!!!

  21. thegamecocker says: May 19, 2012 4:25 PM

    No, the SEC does not want either Fla. St, Clemson, or Ga Tech. No lo quiero! All 3 schools can be classified in one word: “MARICON”!

  22. batmanwally says: May 23, 2012 2:17 PM

    Don’t blame the ACC for Florida State woes into football. Where they have become Wake Forest Bitch of late!!!

    Year after year they have one of the top recruiting classes in the nation and still have only managed 1 trip to ACC Championship in the last 6 years. They lost that by the way to Virginia Tech.

    I do not see a university paying a 25 million buyout to earn 3 million a year more in TV. The latest bowl does not bother the ACC because they would not have aplayed a winner of BIG 12 or SEC except in BCS championship game. The new format hasn’t been agreed on so no one know exactly how it play out. The MWC, Big East, ACC, Conf USA and Notre Dame, BYU, Army if the want to stay independent need to push for an 8 team playoff season. Take the Conf Champs if ranked in top 12 then use a tweaked bcs standings that uses strength of schedule to fill in spots wher conf. champs are not in top 12 that is where the independents can get or maybe a 2nd or 3rd SEC. This would bring in a ton of money to Universities that is only 3 more games. The season good be over 1st week in Jan where it needs to be done by.

  23. thegamecocker says: May 24, 2012 1:28 PM

    Nah. Time for ND to join a conference or be left out in the cold. And people rave about their schedule which normally includes all 3 service academies as well as that Big 10 powerhouse, Purdue! Purdue has beaten ND in about 20 years! Along with the academies, a built-in win. Up until recently, Stanford was no great shakes either. Michigan? Mich St? Good, not great teams. Boston College? R U serious…BC a good team? Not in past 5 years. Point is, don’t be so quick to condemn the patsies the SEC teams play because their schedule among themselves is much tougher than ND’s ever was or will be. Hey ND, you’re not in Kansas anymore! Either join a conference or be left out.

  24. mountaineer50415 says: May 24, 2012 1:46 PM

    Even if the top four are also the conference winners, ND has no chance. They haven’t been in the top 10 sense hecky dern was a pup. If the SEC, BIG 12, BIG 10, AND THE PACK 12 all have conference winners, how on earth could ND be put above any of them? Even if they win all there games, that would be too stupid for words. Let them stay independent. If they just go by who is in the top four, no conference connection, they still have no chance. If they want to have a chance, they need to play a more difficult schedule. Not just one or two a year. The education thing has no merit. If that were so, Stanford would be playing as poorly as ND. How are they able to get players like Andrew Luck and John Elway when ND can not?

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