HOLDING THE ROPE
CHAPTER # 1 !!!!!
# 1 > The second day of January 2010 started like any other during the last half century as the head coach of a college football team. I awoke at four o'clock in the morning, started a fresh pot of coffee, and was joined at the breakfast table by Ann, my wife of sixty years. Together, we spent an hour reading Scripture. Our ritual has always been to start with Genesis, and when we finish Revelation, we go back and read the entire Bible again. When we finish reading each morning, we spend several minutes praying together. God has answered so many of my prayers over the years that I'll never have enough time to thank Him for all my blessings. He blessed me with a wonderful family: my loving wife, six children and their spouses, twenty-one beautiful grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. God also blessed me with the wonderful career He chose for me. I've always believed that God wanted me to be a football coach, that it was my calling. I believe God wants some people to be doctors, some to be lawyers, some to be teachers. I believe His purpose for me was to go into coaching and try to influence young men for Jesus Christ. He wanted me not only to teach them to be good people but also to surrender their lives to Him.
# 2 > But though it seemed a day like any other, January 2, 2010, really was different. For the first time in forty-eight years, I didn't wake up as the head coach of a college football team. But I'm hardly ready for retirement. As far as I'm concerned, my work is not done. God still has a plan for me, and it is to spread His word to as many young people as possible. It is what I tried to do as the head football coach at South Georgia College, Howard College, West Virinia University, and Florida State University, and it's what I'll continue to do during the final years of my life. It is no secret that I was not ready for my coaching career to end. I'd hoped to coach at Florida State for one more season. But after my team lost to the University of Florida, 37-10, in our final game of the 2009 regular season, I knew the end of my career might be near. We finished the 2009 regular season with a 6-6 record, and for the first time in my career as Florida State's coach, influential people were calling for me to retire.
# 3 > After we lost our final game to the Gators, I told the media I needed to go home and do some soul-searching. But when I awoke on November 29, I was determined to return of Florida State for one more season and turn the Seminoles around. But I was not given the opportunity to do it. The day after we lost to the University of Florida, I received a call from an assistant athletic director at Florida State, who informed me that President T.K. Wetherell, one of my former players, wanted to meet with me the next morning. When T.K. and FSU athletic director Rand Spetman arrived at my office on Monday morning, I knew the news was not good. "Bobby, this isn't going to be pretty," T.K. told me. After thirty-four seasons as Florida State's coach, in which my coaching staff and I led the Seminoles to 2 national championships and 316 votories, and 33 nonlosing seasons, I was asked to step down. Florida State's administration wanted to turn the rogram over to Jimbo Fisher, who had worked the previous three seasons as my offensive coordinator. Near the end of Jimbbo's first season at Florida State in 2007, he was named head-coach-in-waiting, my eventual successor. The plan was for Jimbo to replace me as the Seminoles coach at the end of the 2010 season.
# 4 > President Wetherell gave me two options. The first option was to return to Florida State as an ambassador coach, in which I'd have no on-field duties during practices or games. "Do you mean I'm the head coach, but can't go on the field?" I asked President Wetherell. "Yes," he told me. "Well, that option is out. What is the other option?" President Wetherell answered, "The other option is that we won't renew your contract." "Would you still want me to do the Seminole Booster Tour this spring?" I asked him. "No, your contract would expire on January 4, 2010." I went home and discussed the situation with Ann, and we both agreed that I had no choice. I couldn't stay at Florida State as an ambassador coach. I was going to be paid to sit behind a desk and do nothing. I felt like I would be stealing their money. I didn't think it would be a good situation for anyone.