TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - -Bobby Bowden, the man who built Florida State's once-moribund football program into one of the nation's best, announced Tuesday that the Seminoles' bowl game will be the last game he coaches.
Bowden's confirmation puts an end to a whirlwind of speculation that had surrounded his future since reports leaked Monday night that he would be retiring. Bowden, who arrived at Florida State in 1976 and led the Seminoles to national championships in 1993 and 1999, did not make himself available to reporters Tuesday.
During an interview Tuesday with the university's sports information department, Bowden said: "Nothing lasts forever, does it? But I've had some wonderful years here at Florida State, you know it. Hadn't done as good lately as I wish I could have, but I've had wonderful years. No regrets."
Bowden's retirement comes days after Florida State ended the regular season 6-6 after a humiliating 37-10 defeat at No. 1 Florida. As recently as Sunday afternoon, Bowden, 80, expressed his desire to return for another season as coach.
But during a meeting Monday morning with Florida State president T.K. Wetherell and FSU athletic director Randy Spetman, Bowden was presented with two options, according to a high-ranking university source: Either retire or return in a reduced role that ceded authority to Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles' offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting.
Bowden mulled the offer and decided Monday night to retire, according to another high-ranking university source. Neither Wetherell nor Spetman made himself available to reporters Tuesday, but quarterback Christian Ponder and Dekoda Watson, a linebacker, spoke on the team's behalf.
Ponder said it was "weird" that he and Watson were designated as the university's spokesmen, and Watson said, "I feel like a lot of people feel he deserves better."
Meanwhile, Bowden, known as one of the most accessible coaches in major college football history, avoided reporters. He arrived on campus in his black Mercedes sedan around 11 a.m. and entered Florida State's Moore Athletic Center through a back entrance. With a crowd of reporters gathered around Bowden's car, two individuals affiliated with the football program drove it out of sight.
Spetman also declined to answer questions and, for the second consecutive day, walked mostly in silence as reporters attempted to prompt him to provide answers. Spetman said it would be "a while" before he would talk.
Ponder said he was looking forward to playing under Fisher, who will become the Seminoles' head coach after the bowl game. Because of Bowden's retirement, Florida State has now become a viable candidate to play in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, according to published reports.