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FSU's Bowden Mum On Possible Changes

Tampa Tribune
Published: Jan 3, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - The day after was all quiet for Florida State on Sunday. Coach Bobby Bowden opted not to have his usual postseason conference call with the media to discuss the season that was.

If he's planning to make changes to his coaching staff before next season, the move(s) likely would come soon because of the upcoming NCAA coaches convention and the need to go into the heart of recruiting season with a vision of what the future holds.

If Bowden is planning on putting one or more of his current assistants out of work, he'd want to give them the opportunity to seek a new job at the convention, which serves as a de facto job fair.

But Bowden made no announcements in the 24 hours following the Seminoles' season-ending Gator Bowl victory against West Virginia and gave no indication when he would.

His returning players, meanwhile, share a common belief that the Seminoles have something to be excited about in 2005, regardless of what transpires with the coaching staff.

The optimism about next season, in fact, may play a role with a few juniors who are at least considering leaving early for the NFL.

"I believe some of them are staying because they know we have talent and we could have a great year,'' said junior safety Pat Watkins, who is considering an early departure but is leaning toward remaining in school.  "The whole team has great chemistry and there's a lot of great underclassmen,'' Watkins said.  "Everybody wants to collaborate and win one [championship] before we go. We came so close this season, yet so far, so we figure we can stay and we can do this.''

The Seminoles lose 14 starters (seven on offense, six on defense and kicker Xavier Beitia of Tampa). Gator Bowl MVP Leon Washington hasn't ruled out leaving for the NFL on the heels of his 195-yard rushing effort against West Virginia, but said he wouldn't go unless the NFL draft advisory board tells him he would be picked in the second round or higher.

Assuming all the underclassmen stay, the Seminoles will go into spring practice looking to develop their starting quarterback (Wyatt Sexton is the front-runner, but freshmen Xavier Lee and former Land O' Lakes standout Drew Weatherford will get their chance) and an offensive line to protect him.

Tackles Alex Barron and Ray Willis will be gone, along with guard Bobby Meeks, and the 'Noles also must replace senior receivers Chauncey Stovall and Craphonso Thorpe.

"I think we have very good young prospects to work with,'' Bowden said.  "That will kind of excite you and rejuvenate you, when you got guys like Lee and you got guys like Weatherford, and then you've got Wyatt coming back.

"I think we're going to be in good shape - let those guys fight and see who the quarterback is going to be and then go from there.''

To senior defensive tackle Travis Johnson, there's no question the 'Noles will remain competitive next season.

"They're going to be better next year. I think they're going to win the national championship. I really believe that,'' Johnson said.
Quote:Coaching Changes Already Have Begun

Tampa Tribune
Published: Jan 5, 2005

Coaches love to say it all starts up front. The next question at Florida State is, will it end there?

On Tuesday, offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins became the first domino to fall in offseason changes Coach Bobby Bowden has planned in an effort to restore the Seminoles to the national elite.

Heggins ended months of speculation that he would be fired and replaced by Tennessee Titans assistant coach George Henshaw when the school announced his ``resignation'' Tuesday.

The part about Henshaw remains an oft-repeated rumor. There are those with close connections to the FSU coaching staff who say it is more than rumor. Officially, the school's stance is that a search for Heggins' replacement is underway with no definite timetable.

A clause in state hiring policies, however, would allow Bowden to bypass the usual waiting period before filling the vacancy. He's already in the thick of recruiting season (Bowden is on the road this week and unavailable for comment), giving him sufficient cause to hire a replacement as soon as possible.

If Henshaw is, in fact, willing to leave his job as assistant head coach/offense for the Titans, a position he has held for the past five years, then Jeff Bowden, at the very least, has a mentor.

He might retain his title as FSU's offensive coordinator but, in practical terms, would become an understudy.

Henshaw has extensive experience as an offensive coordinator, including four seasons at Florida State. During his first two, the Seminoles went 21-3, losing to Oklahoma in consecutive Orange Bowl appearances.

He left to become the offensive coordinator at Alabama, and later was an offensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants.

With Heggins' departure, the Seminoles are left with one minority among the full-time assistants. And there's still the question about Jeff Bowden's current role as wide receivers coach.

Papa Bowden wasn't pleased with the number of dropped passes that hurt the 'Noles in several games this season. And there was confusion in the practice of the receivers substituting on their own, while Jeff Bowden was too absorbed with play-calling to keep close tabs on the rotation.

Lawrence Dawsey, a former receiver for the 'Noles and Bucs, could help. He presently is the receivers coach at USF, but would he answer if his alma mater came calling?

First, Bowden would need another opening on the offensive staff. Insiders say running backs coach Billy Sexton, in his 28th season, is reluctant to leave his first passion as a coach.

But might he change his mind if he could become FSU's director of football operations? Andy Urbanic has that job now, but the former long- time Pennsylvania high school coach could be in Dave Wannstedt's plans at Pittsburgh.

Only Bowden knows for sure what his staff might look like a week from now. But he can be assured that the 'Noles will have a better chance of selling offensive recruits on FSU if Henshaw comes aboard with his years of success in the NFL.

And FSU fans will be able to breathe easy knowing that, at age 75, Bowden remains hungry to win another national title.

Hungry enough to eat his own? Nah. Just hungry enough to nurture them.
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