Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden to announce his retirement

The Tallahassee Democrat has the scoop-

Bobby Bowden’s legendary coaching career at Florida State University is expected to end Tuesday, the Tallahassee Democrat has learned.

Bowden is expected to announce his resignation by way of a statement to be released Tuesday, sources told the Democrat.

As part of his retirement, Bowden is expected to be offered a non-coaching position at FSU for an unspecified amount of time. In addition to any settlement compensation that may be negotiated as part of his retirement, Bowden is also entitled to $1 million upon his retirement as part of a clause in his coaching contract that was agreed upon at least 10 years ago.

It is unclear if Bowden will coach the bowl game or not, but sources have said if he does coach one last game then the Gator Bowl may try to select FSU for its Jan. 1 game.

I’d be surprised if Bowden isn’t allowed to coach the Seminoles one last time. He has been the only football head coach the school has known for 34 years. When Bowden took over FSU was a wreck. A independent that schools big and small were beating up on. It was either 1972 or 1973 that the Seminoles went without a win for the year(The Florida Gators had a similar year in 1979 but had one tie). Bowden quickly reversed the school’s football fortunes. In his second year FSU went 10-2, in his 4th year the Seminoles went 11-0 and received an invitation to the Orange Bowl to play Oklahoma. Florida State got its ass kicked 24-7 on Jan. 1st 1980, but the next year pulled stunning road upsets at Nebraska and Ohio on the way to a second straight OB engagement with Oklahoma. The second time around was a great battle that only saw the Sooners win 18-17. Bowden had established the Seminoles as a Division One football in five years.

FSU football fans won’t soon forget Bowden and his legacy. Assistant Coach Jimbo Fisher is expected to be named Bowden’s replacement.


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


South Florida Upsets #5 West Virginia

A bunch of turnovers and the early exit of their star quarterback sent #5 West Virginia Mountaineers to a loss to the upstart South Florida

No. 18 South Florida is not only basking in the national spotlight, the Bulls are thriving in it. Matt Grothe upstaged West Virginia stars Pat White and Steve Slaton for the second straight year, leading rapidly rising USF to a 21-13 victory over the mistake-prone, fifth-ranked Mountaineers on Friday night.


West Virginia (4-1, 0-1) averaged 357 yards rushing in its first four games, but only managed 188 on the ground after surprisingly opening the game throwing on seven of its first 11 offensive plays.

The Mountaineers lost White late in the second quarter after the junior quarterback was hit in the right knee on a running play. He limped off the field and remained on the sideline, but did not return.


The victory before a record crowd for a USF home game (67,018), figures to propel the Bulls to unprecedented heights for a program that has only been in existence for 11 seasons. They moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A, in 2001 and entered the Top 25 for the first time two weeks ago.

“It’s a big win for everybody around here,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said as he waved his left arm toward the on-field celebration. “Pretty neat stuff.”

Although many will view the result as an upset, USF is not a stranger to taking down ranked opponents. The Bulls upset Louisville at home two years ago and knocked West Virginia out of contention for a BCS bowl berth with a 24-19 upset at Morgantown last November. They moved to the brink of cracking the Top 25 for the first time with a 26-23 overtime victory at Auburn earlier this month.

In a season of stunning upsets, it may not even be surprising anymore. That’s especially true for a Florida team, where they seem to grow more top flight college football players than the other 49 states combined.

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara


Rodriguez staying at WVU

Not a done deal after all, apparantly (link to previous OTB coverage).

Rich Rodriguez is not taking that Alabama job after all.

Rich Rodriguez will remain the head coach at West Virginia, a team source confirmed to’s Pat Forde.

Rodriguez met with his team at 3 p.m. ET to inform them of the decision.

Rodriguez was a top candidate for the vacant job in Alabama, meeting with school officials this week. Alabama athletic director Mal Moore also confirmed that Rodriguez had removed himself from consideration for that job.

Wow. I thought the last word had been written on this one. I, for one, am glad to keep Rodriguez at WVU: I like him being in the Big East with Pittsburgh.

An article from a local paper titled Rodriguez Stays explains further:

Rich Rodriguez has spurned a multi-million dollar offer from the University of Alabama and will remain the head football coach at West Virginia University. Rodriguez made the announcement during a team meeting this afternoon. Players roared in approval upon hearing the news.

Numerous media outlets, including ESPN and many in Alabama, had stories over the past 18 hours citing sources within the Crimson Tide athletic department that claimed a verbal agreement had been reach between Rodriguez and Alabama officials to become the new coach at UA. But WVU officials made a counter offer to Rodriguez, who holds a 49-24 record in his six seasons leading the Mountaineers, and the 43-year-old from Grant Town, W.Va., agreed to the new extension on Friday. Details for the new contract were not yet revealed. A press conference will take place at the Puskar Center at 5:30 p.m.

Rodriguez reportedly had received a seven-year contract offer from the University of Alabama in the neighborhood of $2.1 million per year.

I’d hate to be a Crimson Tide fan right now – that’s got to be worse than someone turning you down. I was suprised that Coach Rodriguez had taken the job myself – it just didn’t seem like a good fit for him. My guess is that he used the ‘Bama offer to coax WVU into giving him a better offer. I think that he’d rather be at WVU, since he has a track record there, and is less likely to be fired like Mike Shula was.

So the Alabama coach search continues, and West Virginia fans can rejoice that they are not losing their highly successful coach.

One wonders how the media got this one so wrong – there must have been something to the rumors of Rodriguez signing, but it must not have been as finished as they said. I know I was shocked when I read the headlines about Rodriguez staying, wondering at first if they were old news that had been superceeded by the Alabama hiring job. I haven’t seen them get it this wrong in a while.

One wonders about the damage this may do to his reputation, though. Rodriguez told his team he wasn’t leaving, and then negotiated with another program. While he is ultimately staying, I wonder if he will lose any respect because of this.

UPDATE (James Joyner): Brandon apparently found the story right before I did; we both wound up posting the ESPN story. The substantive comments from my post:

A shame for Alabama but quite likely the right move by Rodriguez. I always think coaches who leave jobs at big-time programs they came up in, like Steve Spurrier and Florida, wind up regretting the move.

There are plenty of great candidates out there and, with Miami having stayed in house, Alabama will have its pick.

I should note, for those coming to this page without context, that I’m an Alabama graduate (PhD, 1995) and a big fan. But I’d be just as happy with Navy’s Paul Johnson or Wake’s Jim Grobe as with Rodriguez. And neither of them would be leaving their home to take the job.


Rich Rodriguez Offered Alabama Job

Rich Rodriguez has reportedly been offered the opportunity to be the next man to try to replace Bear Bryant at Alabama.

West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez has an offer to become the next head football coach at the University of Alabama, sources close to the hiring process told the Press-Register today. The offer from Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore to replace the fired Mike Shula was made this morning.

Terms of the contract offer were not made available, but multiple sources familiar with the situation said it is in the neighborhood of the most lucrative in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville is the highest paid coach in the SEC with an annual salary of $2.2 million. That is double the $1.1 million Rodriguez currently makes per season.

Rodriguez is considering the offer, according to the sources. He was scheduled to fly to Jacksonville, Fla., today for a Gator Bowl function. A West Virginia official said the flight was scheduled to leave Morgantown at 11:30 a.m. Central Standard Time.

His answer is expected soon, perhaps as early as today. He did not immediately return a call from the Press-Register.

Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are desperately trying to convince him to stay: “West Virginia University is spending millions of dollars to upgrade its football facilities to ensure that coach Rich Rodriguez stays in Morgantown.”

UPDATE: ESPN’s Ivan Maisel reports that Miami might be getting into the mix, too.

The pace of negotiations between Alabama and West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is forcing Miami to decide deciding how badly it wants to pursue him. Miami athletic director Paul Dee has been told that if he is interested in hiring Rodriguez that he needs to make a contract offer as soon as possible, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiation said Thursday morning.

Dee received permission from West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong to speak with Rodriguez only Wednesday. However, Rodriguez has been adamant with both schools that he does not want this process to drag out. When a representative of Miami contacted Rodriguez to set up an interview, the coach asked to get an offer on the table, the source said.

Alabama, meanwhile, has not made an offer to Rodriguez yet. Athletic director Mal Moore encountered some delays in returning to Tuscaloosa from New York on Wednesday. Upon landing on Wednesday afternoon, according to The Tuscaloosa News, Moore said, “Both sides are working.”

If true, this obviously gives Rodriguez more leverage. Miami is almost certainly the more attractive position, given their recruiting base.

Regardless, there are at least half a dozen first rate candidates out there and Rodriguez is by no means a clear standout among them. There’s no reason for either Miami or Alabama to make a hasty decision.


Pittsnogle signed by Boston Celtics

BOSTON — Free agent Kevin Pittsnogle signed a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics on Wednesday.

Pittsnogle, a 6-foot-11 center who is West Virginia’s career 3-point leader, was passed over in June’s NBA draft along with Mountaineers teammate Mike Gansey. Both played for the Miami Heat in a summer league, and Gansey signed a two-year deal with the Heat.

Nice to see members of that West Virginia team getting work in the NBA. With some molding, I think Pittsnogle could be pretty good. However, I know next to nothing about basketball, so who knows. If he does turn out to be a force in Boston, we will once again get to tell people that they have been Pittsnogled, which will be totally worth it.



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