Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ivan Maisel as Soviet Historian

I generally like Ivan Maisel's work (and not just because he e-mailed me during my days to say that he really liked the column I wrote after Alabama's sanctions were announced). He's a good writer and his takes on college football are typically well thought out and well argued. That said, he has soft spots and the most prominent one is that he comes close to Vitale-ish levels of defending coaches even when they're clearly in the wrong. As if on cue, as Florida State plummeted to last place in the profoundly underwhelming ACC Atlantic several weeks ago, Maisel wrote stepped in to inform Florida State's boosters that they have no grounds to be upset that their once-great coach is taking the program straight to the toilet. (Click on the "Soapbox Moment" tab for his discussion of Florida State.) Here's what he wrote regarding their wretched offense:

The bottom has not fallen out. The Seminoles are 4-3 despite an incredible rash of injuries. There are noninjury issues, sure. Sophomore quarterback Drew Weatherford hasn't progressed as quickly as expected. The offensive line is young and thinly talented.

Most Florida State fans would give anything to see Bowden replace his offensive coordinator. But Bowden has made it clear that his son, offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, isn't going anywhere. Hasn't Bowden put enough good will in the bank at Florida State to allow him to draw on it?

I read Maisel to be making two arguments here: (1) Florida State has been unlucky with injuries and has some personnel issues; and (2) Bobby Bowden should be allowed to retain his son because of accumulated goodwill. Maisel doesn't explicitly defend Jeff Bowden, as he has more sense than to defend the indefensible, but he does imply that the offensive problems are not Jeff's fault. Maisel explicitly says that the boosters who are paying thousands of dollars every year to Florida State's athletic program have no right to expect Bobby Bowden to remove the anchor around the program's neck (or at least one of the anchors).

Anyway, here is Maisel after Jeff Bowden's resignation: "It has been obvious to everyone but the Florida State head coach that he needed a change at the top of his offense." Really? It sure wasn't obvious to you three weeks ago, was it? You were busy making excuses for Bobby Bowden and claiming that he has the right to make decisions against the interests of the program that compensates him in the seven-figure range. Your new perspective reminds me of Rush Limbaugh defending the Republican Congress for years as they betrayed just about every core conservative value and then announcing after Election Day that he was happy to no longer have to carry water for those who don't deserve it, i.e. make arguments that he did not believe were right.

And then Maisel pulls out the violin for a closing flourish: "Jeff Bowden has moved on, effective end of the season. We will watch closely to see how long it takes Bobby Bowden to move on from this heartbreak." Gee, Ivan, do you think that Bobby might have avoided this "heartbreak" by not employing his incompetent son in a critical and high-profile position? Didn't Bobby set himself up for this failure?

1 comment:

Doug said...

Thanks for throwing aside the weepy mentality and making the point that Bobby Bowden should've realized a long time ago: His primary responsibility is to the FSU football program, not his son, and FSU fans shouldn't have to endure continued embarrassment on the field just so that Jeff can continue to draw a paycheck. I'm simply amazed that Bobby got away with this stubbornness as long as he did. There's not a company in America where a supervisor would be allowed to oversee that kind of incompetence just because he couldn't bear to see his son get a pink slip.