- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Bobby Bowden did not want to retire.

“Fired might be a little too strong,” the former Florida State coach said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “Pushed out ain’t bad. I was pushed out, no doubt about it. I didn’t want but one more year. Gosh, I’m 80.”

Bowden retired _ at least technically _ after Florida State went 7-6 last season, the third time in the last five seasons the Seminoles barely broke .500.

The coach doesn’t act bitter, but he wants to make sure the record is straight.

“I didn’t want them to spread the story that I voluntarily, happily resigned,” said Bowden, who was in New York to begin a promotional tour for his new book, “Called to Coach.”

The affable Alabama native rolled up 389 victories (though 12 were vacated by the NCAA), second behind Joe Paterno in major college football in a 44-year head coaching career. In 34 seasons at Florida State, Bowden won two national titles and engineered one of the most successful runs in the history of college football.

But Florida State went 38-28 in his last five seasons and the board of trustees and then-university president T.K. Wetherell thought after last season it was time for a change.

Bowden said Wetherell presented him with two alternatives.

“Number one, you can stay as ambassador coach. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an ambassador coach in my life. I said, ‘Well, what is an ambassador coach?’

“He said, ‘Well, you can remain the head coach but you can’t coach out on the field.’ Now how can I be the head coach of this team if I can’t go out on the field? So I said, ‘Well that’s out.’

“So I said, ‘What’s the next alternative?’ The next alternative, we ain’t going to renew your contract,” Bowden said with a big laugh. “Does that sound like I resigned?”

When Bowden was an assistant coach at Florida State in the 1960s, he coached Wetherell and got to know his family.

“He and I were pretty close,” Bowden said. “I thought I was safe.”

Bowden said his relationship with Wetherell has likely been irreparably damaged.

“I doubt if I’ll have a relationship with T.K. anymore,” he said.

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