Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bowden era: Did it have to end like this?

I needed a full day to sift through the mixed feelings I had about what happened Monday to Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. In my lifetime, few coaches have been as tied to a football program as Bowden had been to Florida State.
Say Florida State, and the person whose face stood as a symbol of that great institution was his. For Bowden, a man with 388 wins on his coaching resume, was to Florida State what Joe Paterno is to Penn State, to what Bear Bryant was to Alabama and to what Woody Hayes was to Ohio State.
And as an OSU alum, I understood well what a man like Bowden meant. I also knew that his 34-year marriage wasn't intended to last forever -- a point JoePa might want to keep fresh in his mind. For living legends do have a shelf-life, and it's a lot shorter than they might like.
Still, it's never easy for a legend to bid adieu. I remembered how hard it was from my undergraduate years at Ohio State, because I mourned its decision to fire Hayes.
In hindsight, its decision was the right one.
But men like Hayes and Bowden -- and, yes, Paterno -- deserve more than a parting gift and a brick building on campus with their name on it. What made Hayes and Bowden so special was what became their undoing: a stubborn refusal to change or to quit.
They'd rather jump into a tar pit naked before stepping down, and in Bowden's coach, FSU officials realized as much.
To their credit, they did give Bowden a choice. Yet was it more a Hobson's choice than anything else: quit or they'd fire him.


Gianni said...

Sorry but I am at a loss for what you wanted to say with your column. Are you disappointed that LeBron used the N-word and the B-word? Are you disappointed that LeBron used both words in front of white men? Or are you worried that LeBron didn’t show “Caucasian sophistication” by rapping in his locker room before a game?

The last option troubles me in the sense that you suggest that LeBron should have been listening to Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff or some other Russian or European composer or ensure that your audience of financially powerful people would be at ease with him and find him classy.

Or that if LeBron was listening to rap that he shouldn’t have song it out loud because it shows a lack of class! I personally find the use of the N-Word stupid and self insulting but you shouldn’t have gone there.

You can’t tell a economic powerhouse in the making like LeBron that his cultural preferences should be subservient to those of the established mostly white elite! You should encourage young black superstars to be themselves!

As somebody who gets published in MSNBC you have a powerful voice yourself, use it in a positive way! Don’t use it to tell young black people that they have to behave in a “caucasianally” acceptable way or if they don’t they don’t show class!


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