Jan. 5, 2000
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
NEW ORLEANS – Bobby Bowden was back on the national championship podium
for the first time in six years, loving every second of it.
“What else? What else?” he said, grinning and gesturing for even more
hardware Wednesday after being presented with three national title trophies –
including one from The Associated Press – about 10 hours after Florida State
beat Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl.
In perhaps the most exciting national title game since Miami upset Nebraska
31-30 in the 1984 Orange Bowl, the Seminoles and Hokies staged a doozy in the
Superdome. The electrifying play of Florida State’s Peter Warrick and Virginia
Tech’s Michael Vick produced a thrill a minute for the nearly four-hour game
that featured a huge Hokies comeback followed by a final quarter surge to
victory by the Seminoles.
“That was one physical game,” Bowden said. “They lost some people, we
lost some people, but this team did what it had to do.”
The victory gave the Seminoles their second national title – they also won
in 1993 – and clinched their place as college football’s Team of ’90s, a decade
that saw Bowden’s teams win a record 108 games and extend their streak of
top-four finishes in the final AP poll to 13 years in a row.
Florida State (12-0) became the first team to go wire-to-wire in the AP poll
since the preseason ratings began in 1950, and the win also ended comparisons
to the Atlanta Braves – teams that won everything but the big one.
“Everyone said Virginia Tech was a hungry football team,” Bowden said,
“but you’ve got to remember we’ve been in the championship game and lost, and
sat through that loss.”
After the game and a call from President Clinton, Bowden said he returned to
his hotel suite, visited with sons, daughters and grandchildren, then went
upstairs and “celebrated with nobody.”
“At 70 years of age?” he asked. “That 30-year old crowd, I don’t want to
hang around with them.”
When he took Clinton’s call, the first thing he asked the president was:
“How come you’re not working tonight?”
“We’re thrilled you were able to see the game. All I can say is ‘Go
Hogs,'” Bowden said, a reference to the Arkansas Razorbacks from Clinton’s
The game itself was a classic battle of superstars – Warrick vs. Vick.
In the final game of his college career, Warrick set a Sugar Bowl record
with 20 points – catching touchdown passes of 64 and 43 yards from Chris
Weinke, running 59 yards on a punt return for a TD and adding a 2-point
conversion grab. He had six catches for 163 yards, and Weinke threw for 329
yards and four TDs in what was likely his last college game.
Vick, Tech’s elusive freshman quarterback, had 322 total yards – 225 passing
and 97 rushing – and two TDs. The Hokies outgained the Seminoles 503-359, but
Florida State’s quick-strike ability more than made up for the difference.
“Vick’s better than I thought,” Bowden said. “I thought we could catch
him with our speed, but we couldn’t. I told our offense, `You gotta win the
game, our defense simply cannot stop them. They’re tired.’ They went out and
It was also a year Bowden won his 300th game and secured the first perfect
season in 40 years as a head coach, something sons Terry and Tommy already have
“I’m sure they wanted the old man to win one,” Bowden said. “What is he,
70 years old? How many more chances will he get?”
Asked why he doesn’t retire, Bowden recalled his junior college coaching
“I was just as excited last night as I was back then – South Georgia
College vs. Middle Georgia College in 1955,” he said. “I wanted to win that
one just as much, and I couldn’t sleep any better then than the night before
preparing for the national championship.
“I don’t know why I’m that way. I still have that same fear of losing, and
that desire to win … and the love of the game and working with those kids.”
Naturally, he plans to be back for another title chance next season in the
Orange Bowl, the Bowl Championship Series’ title game for the 2000 season.
“You bet your life we’ll be striving to be back,” Bowden said.