Football, is a common measure of the success of an athletic program. Is it fair? Maybe yes, maybe no, but considering the financial impact it is a reality. Florida A and M enjoyed it’s glory years during the Jake Gaither era from the 40s through the 60s, with a renaissance under Billy Joe in the ‘90s. These days the goal of the orange and green is build up their football program and increase community involvement.
"There is a freshness about what we're trying to do and the program we are trying to implement. Not only from building a football program. We want people who support us to be recognized by our fans and our alumni and people that work here, employees. We're going to Rattlertize this community," says FAMU AD Bill Hayes.
The Valdosta State Blazers are fresh off a special football season, having won the Division II championship. It is their 2nd title in the past four years. The expectations are as high as the clouds.
"That's something that I think we welcome to a certain extent. We want people to expect us to do well. We strive to be at that level. The student athletes that play in our football program and our basketball programs and baseball and softball and tennis, they expect just as much of themselves at our level as any other level," adds VSU AD Herb Reinhard.
While the Rattlers rebuild, and the Blazers prepare to defend a title, the Florida State Seminoles find themselves somewhere in between. They have the All-time wins leader for Division-I football on their sidelines, a coach that FSU President T.K. Wetherell has plenty of familiarity with.
"Bobby Bowden was my receiver coach in 1965 when I was here as a player. Bobby Bowden and Richard Petty are kind of two people when you go with them, just step back because everyone is going to want to sign autographs and all that kind of stuff," says FSU President TK Wetherell.
But the rock star will soon call it a career. While the Noles hope to finish off a legendary career in style, they also will break in their next head football coach.
"I think that's just part of the evolution of a college, we're only here for a certain period of time and we're only in a given job for a period of time so the true test is are we better off today then when you took over as head coach or president. Clearly you can say that Florida State University Athletics and particularly football is better off for Bobby Bowden being here," adds Wetherell.
We are familiar with the names on the back of the jerseys of the players who lead their teams, the coaches who grace the sidelines. Behind desks there are University leaders who make the decisions on what direction their programs will go.