Oct. 28, 1999
There was a moment following last Saturday night’s 17-14 win over Clemson that was so unforgettable, it made even the scabbiest of media members stop and smile.
It happened while most of you were probably singing and cheering in front of the television or however it is you chose to celebrate the victory. This happened deep underneath Clemson’s Memorial Stadium, while a befuddled Bobby Bowden sat in front of a throng of national media pressing ever closer to Florida State’s head coach. His wife, Ann Bowden, came whisking into the room. As Bobby Bowden was mid-sentence, mid-dadgumit, Ann came rushing in to congratulate her husband.
“That was a great game, just a great game,” Ann Bowden said.
You have to remember this was her husband beating up on her son. Ann wanted the win (she knows who pays the bills), but she wanted it to be close so Tigers’ head coach Tommy Bowden would look good.
“I got just what I wanted. A close win,” Ann Bowden said. “But after that first half, I said, ‘Okay Tommy, that’s enough now’.”
It was a side that, I at least, had never seen. After a week of innocuous questions about win No. 300 and biting criticism following receiver Peter Warrick’s troubles, a smile stretched across the visibly worn down Bobby Bowden’s wrinkled face. Ann was there.
When she walked in, Bobby stood to greet her, and as he did, Ann put her arms around her husband and gave him his first 300-wins kiss. Ann then turned to the 40-50 reporters and blushed. That kiss, she knew, would probably find its way onto SportsCenter.
For the remainder of Bobby Bowden’s press conference, Ann stood beside her sitting husband, and every now and again tried to straighten out his rumpled hat-hair. She beamed like only a mother and a wife can.
Her sweatshirt told the story of her torn emotions. A curious mix of orange and garnet, her loyalty was spliced in two, just like her sweatshirt, split right down the middle. Half Clemson, half FSU.
Of course, Bobby admitted that FSU wasn’t sharp, mired in speculations and controversy, the Seminoles were a wobbly kick or successful Clemson plunge on fourth-and inches from seeing the season of destiny end in sonful intrugue.
“When he did that fake punt, that made me so mad,” Bobby Bowden said. “But I know Momma’s happy because she wanted her boy to look good.”
After Bobby was finished talking to the media about his life, his wife and his wins, he received another kiss from his wife. Bowden had a moment to be thankful. This week that would never end did.
“Something else will happen,” Bobby Bowden said. “Something always happens.”
When Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden followed his father into the pressroom, there was not “Bowden Bowl” on his mind. His thoughts were on a three-point loss to the No. 1 team in the country.
“Alright y’all, fire away,” Tommy Bowden said in a haunting echo of a voice. On the televisions all over the country, Tommy Bowden had just lost a chess match played with college students, giving his father win No. 300 in his career and win No. 1 in the Bowden Bowl.
But right then, right after the game, Tommy didn’t mourn the loss because it was his father on the other sideline. No, Tommy was downtrodden because his ramshackle group of Tigers were so dadgumm close to winning.
So what of his mother?
“I think she’s a traitor,” Tommy Bowden said fighting mightily not to smile. “I’ve always said she is his wife before she’s our mother. She a traitor.”
His mother feigned a broken heart.
“I cheered for you as mush as I did (your father) Tommy,” Ann Bowden said. “I even grabbed an orange pom-pom.”
“Where did you sit, Mother?” Tommy said back to her. “What section did you sit in?”
With the wit and evasiveness that must be bred into the Bowdens, Ann told her son where she sat.
“In the stands,” she said with a smirk.
Bobby got a hug and kiss and Tommy got a verbal spanking. It was clear then, that in the Bowden family, Ann is undefeated.