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College Football Notes : Bowden: 'Florida' Conference Toughest

March 08, 1987|HERSCHEL NISSENSON | Associated Press

Coach Bobby Bowden thinks Florida State's football team plays in the nation's toughest conference.

No, Bowden hasn't forgotten the Seminoles are a football independent.

"The toughest conference in the country? The State of Florida Conference, that's a pretty darn tough league right there with us, Miami and Florida," Bowden quipped this week during the NCAA's College Football '87 Preview.

Bowden also said he has lost his crown as King of the Road because Florida State lost road games last season to powers like Nebraska, Michigan and Miami while beating only Louisville and South Carolina away from home.

"I'm Queen of the Road now," he joked.

This year, the Seminoles visit East Carolina, Michigan State, Southern Mississippi, Auburn and Florida. All should be forewarned that Florida State is comprised mostly of juniors and sophomores and will have basically the same team in 1987 and 1988.

Bobby Knight is one of the reasons Bill Mallory is the football coach at Indiana.

The Hoosiers' basketball coach "contacted me and said there was room for football at Indiana," Mallory said.

Indiana is known for its basketball teams. But, Mallory said, the school "has made a commitment toward football. I don't think Indiana had ever made a real commitment before.

"I knew it would be a tough job and the first year (1984) we proved it (0-11). When the fans cheer because you win the coin toss you know you've had a bad season."

Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson said the Hurricanes will "pretty well find out what the rest of the world's been doing now that we've lost both Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde."

To replace Testaverde at quarterback, Johnson will choose from redshirts Steve Walsh and Greg Jones.

"It's really up for grabs," he said. "I don't know if Walsh has the physical ability of the previous quarterbacks, but he's a heady player. Jones threw for a lot of yards in high school and has a tremendous amount of ability.

"But in our offense, it's very difficult for a young player to come in and take advantage of what we do."

Miami has nine defensive starters returning. Johnson said end Danny Stubbs, who has 30 sacks in the last two seasons, "may be the best defensive lineman in the country."

And he says All-American free safety Bennie Blades, a 208-pounder who has run a 4.35 40-yard dash and who led the nation in interceptions last season, "may be as fine a player at his position as any player I've coached at any position."

That's quite a tribute, since Johnson has coached Testaverde, Hugh Green and Lee Roy Selmon.

Johnson is opposed to a playoff system, although he wouldn't object to a one-game, two-team showdown after the bowl games.

"The experiences I've had with a bowl system as a coach and player have been fantastic," he said. "One of the most positive thing is that there are 19 bowls and 19 teams leave with positive feelings looking forward to the next season."

Johnson said the Hurricanes "didn't enjoy all the hype we went through" before their 14-10 Fiesta Bowl loss to Penn State in the national championship shootout, a game that was ballyhooed for more than a month.

"Our guys requested that we go to Tempe a day or two before the game and just play the game. They weren't interested in having fun."

In his first season at San Diego State, Denny Stolz led the Aztecs to the Western Athletic Conference championship, snapping Brigham Young's string of 10 consecutive titles.

"In my estimation, San Diego State is one of the few frontiers left in college football," Stolz said. "I always wondered why it wasn't a Top Twenty program.

"Our object was to get into the Top Twenty or 25, win the WAC and go to a bowl. We accomplished all that in our first year.

"The talent pool in southern California is unbelievable and we want to be looked at as a national power."

The coaches were asked if this year's recruits were better prepared for the SAT and ACT college entrance tests as a result of the controversial Proposition 48.

"I saw an improvement there," Mallory said. "This year, the (high school) guidance counselors and coaches did a better job."

Bowden: "Last year, they just put it off and paid no attention to it whatsoever. This year, they're really waking up, thank goodness."

Smith: "Our coaches were better prepared to deal with it. They knew what to look for."

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