TALLAHASSEE — Florida State University president T.K. Wetherell says coach Bobby Bowden's job is safe for now.
Wetherell said the football coaching situation will be re-evaluated at the end of the season. He reiterated that offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher will be the next head coach when Bowden leaves and the university will work with Fisher on an agreement.
"FSU does not make coaching changes in the middle of the season," Wetherell said in a news release. "What message would it send to anyone — friend or foe — to do that at this time?"
Bowden said he appreciated Wetherell's backing.
"I think he's wise and I'm very thankful," Bowden said. "You would like to go out on top. The season is not over. Let's get the season over and see what happens."
Bowden has repeatedly indicated he plans to coach through the 2010 season. Fisher's present contract calls for the school to pay him $5 million if he is not the head coach by January 2011.
Although many boosters and fans have become disgruntled with the slide of the program, Wetherell made it clear he is sticking by the 79-year-old Bowden. The Seminoles (2-3, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) are off to their slowest start since Bowden's first year at the helm in 1976.
"His character and commitment to excellence has always been the signature of his career," said Wetherell, a receiver at Florida State when Bowden was an assistant at the school in the mid-1960s.
"Two years ago coach Bowden and I, and others, stood together and announced that we were beginning a period of transition for the football program, Wetherell said. "That plan is in place and will produce results, given the opportunity and support."
Wetherell's statement, however, left the door open for Bowden to retire at the end of the season.
"Any coach can choose to retire at any time," Wetherell said. "However, it is the athletics director's responsibility to determine which coaches are hired and which contracts are extended."
Bowden's tenure came under fire this week after the chairman of the university's trustees, Jim Smith, said the coaching staff was in disarray and Bowden should leave after this season. Those comments came on the heels of two Florida newspapers, including Bowden's hometown Tallahassee Democrat, saying it was time for the coach to hand over the reins to Fisher.
Bowden's 384 coaching victories are second all-time only to Penn State's Joe Paterno among major college coaches.