YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Bowden wants another national championship

August 05, 2007|From the Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Bobby Bowden is pushing 80 and lost more games last year than he once typically lost in four. Rabid fans forced the departure of his offensive coordinator, who happened to be his son. And archrival Florida won the national championship.

Still, none of that has dampened the Florida State coach's optimism. Bowden said he plans to remain the head Seminole until he wins a third national championship or it becomes clear to him that will never happen.

"If I didn't think we could, I would probably go on and get on out," Bowden said. "But I still think we can. If I find out different, then it'd be time to go."

He begins his 32nd season at Florida State with 366 career coaching victories, three more than Penn State's Joe Paterno, and with a new offensive staff headed by former LSU coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who will be responsible for calling plays.

Despite last season's 7-6 mark, the poorest since Bowden's first year at Florida State in 1976, the Seminoles are favored by the media to win the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division.

And while he's confident the coaching changes will result in improvement, Bowden still defends his decision to hire son Jeff Bowden as offensive coordinator six years ago. The offense foundered, at least when compared to the Seminole juggernauts of the 1990s, and the younger Bowden resigned under pressure last November.

"It just got down to where everything that happened was blamed on Jeffrey," said Bobby Bowden, who turns 78 in November. "But that's the nature of the job."

But Bowden didn't stop with just replacing his son, bringing in young coaches Dexter Carter and Lawrence Dawsey, both former Seminoles, along with a couple of veterans -- offensive line coach Rick Trickett from West Virginia and former assistant Chuck Amato, who was fired as head coach at North Carolina State.

"It's a staff that's so qualified," Bowden said. "I feel good things are fixing to happen."

Bowden acknowledges that he'd like to amass 400 victories and stay ahead of Paterno, who will be 81 in December.

He believes he'll know when it's time to finally end his historic reign at Florida State, and says he has the support of the administration.

"I've been there so long, they've been good to me," Bowden said. "They'd hate for me to leave on a bad note."

But Bowden also noted that parity and a 12-game schedule make winning a national title more difficult than ever. Still, he remains opposed to a playoff for major college schools, preferring the bowl system and mythical championship.

"This is an old man talking here -- I've never known anything about playoffs," Bowden said. "They vote. They even voted us champions two years. That's fine with me."

The Seminoles play seven games away from Tallahassee -- matchups against Clemson, Colorado, Alabama, defending ACC champ Wake Forest, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida -- a schedule Bowden calls his toughest since 1981.

But he still likes his chances, pointing out that five of the 2006 losses were by a touchdown or less.

"This team, I would think, would have as good a chance as anybody else if we can stay healthy," Bowden said.

"Once you win a national championship, they (fans) expect you to do it every year so the pressure's on," said Bowden, who took Florida State to national titles in 1993 and 1999 with quarterbacks Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke capturing the Heisman Trophy in those seasons. "If I get the job done like I should, we'll be back."

Los Angeles Times Articles