TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jimbo Fisher will succeed Bobby Bowden
as Florida State's next football coach -- someday.
President T.K. Wetherell designated offensive coordinator Fisher
as "head coach-in waiting," but skipped out of a somewhat unusual
news conference Monday without answering questions about the
contracts that are not yet finalized.
Bowden, major college football's winningest coach, agreed to
return for a 33rd season with options to stay longer.
"Every year I'll just re-sign it and tell 'em if I want to
coach another year," Bowden said. "I couldn't ask for anything
better than that."
Bowden, Fisher and interim athletic director Bill Proctor all
skirted questions about what Proctor described as "agreement[s] in
principle" that give "stability to our program."
Bowden, 78, said he supported the plan brought to him last week
by the president and Proctor, who have both known the coach since
the early 1960s.
"I think it's a great plan," Bowden said. "Hey, when you get
78 years of age, it's hard to say how you're going out, but we've
got a plan. It kind of all started with my contract.
Bowden, whose present five-year deal with the school expires in
three weeks, made just over $2 million in 2006, state records show.
"My position hasn't changed. As long as I'm healthy. [And] If I
can win enough games."
It's the falloff in wins in recent years that has increased
focus on Bowden's age.
"I do have an obligation to the university to win enough ball
games,'' said Bowden, who is 14-11 the past two seasons heading
into a Dec. 31 Music City Bowl game against Kentucky.
Fisher, a disciple of the Bowden coaching family who played and
coached for Terry Bowden, spent much of his time praising the
family patriarch and avoiding details on what exactly he agreed to.
"This gives me some peace," said Fisher, who has not been a
head coach before. "I'm content to wait for it."
Terry Bowden, who has been out of coaching for a decade since
being fired at Auburn, helped persuade Fisher to take the offensive
coordinator's job earlier this year. The job opened when younger
brother Jeff Bowden was bought out by dissatisfied boosters late in
the 2006 season.
A West Virginia native, Fisher was paid roughly $420,000 as
offensive coordinator this year. He is receiving a $200,000 annual
raise to wear the successor title and will be paid $2.5 million if
for some reason Wetherell changes his mind about Bowden's
successor, said an individual familiar with the negotiations, who
The individual said Bobby Bowden could earn up to $2.5 million with
incentives included in the agreement being finalized by Florida
State's general counsel, Betty Steffens, and attorneys for the
Bowden has 300 wins at Florida State, where he has won a pair of
national championships and a dozen Atlantic Coast Conference
Bowden's 373 career wins are two more than Penn State's
Joe Paterno, who turns 81 on Dec. 21.
"If I'm the head coach here for 37 years and win 10 games a
year, I still haven't caught him," Fisher said. "That kind of
puts it into perspective."
But he too recognized the uncertainty that goes along with a
head coaching job in an era of million dollar contracts that create
a "win-now" mentality among boosters and fans.
"One of these days I'll be sitting there and you'll be trying
to kick me out the door," Fisher said.