Nov. 19, 1999
By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State coach Bobby Bowden began the year
with a perfect season as his goal.
He’s raised two sons who have gone unbeaten, but Bowden, the 70-year-old
patriarch of American’s best-known coaching family, has never enjoyed a perfect
year of his own.
“It would be nice to do it,” Bowden said. “But it won’t be a death blow
if we don’t make it.”
An unbeaten year is about the only thing Bowden hasn’t achieved in a
glittering career that includes 302 victories, a national title in 1993 and a
streak of 13 consecutive 10-win seasons that defies probability. Bowden has had
10 seasons with teams that lost just once, twice taking unbeaten teams to bowls
where the Seminoles tasted their first defeat.
“We’ve had our opportunities,” Bowden concedes.
And once again, it’s once-beaten archrival Florida (9-1) standing in the way
of Florida State’s bid for a wire-to-wire run to a national title. A similar
scenario occurred 24 months ago when Florida spoiled the Seminoles’ run at a
second national title this decade.
“Here’s another shot at it,” Bowden said. “It would be nice to do it.”
Although Bowden enjoys a 6-4-1 advantage over the Gators and coach Steve
Spurrier in the 1990s, Florida has had the last laugh with the most at stake.
The Gators won their only national title with a 52-20 win over the Seminoles
in a rematch at the 1997 Sugar Bowl, just five weeks after losing their only
game, 24-21, in Tallahassee. Ten months later, Fred Taylor’s touchdown in the
final two minutes knocked off the unbeaten, No. 2 Seminoles, spoiling yet
another national title bid.
“It’s hard to go all the way without losing one,” Spurrier said. “FSU
will tell you that.”
And Spurrier thinks the psychology may work in his favor Saturday.
“We’ve already had our one,” he said. “So we’re not as uptight maybe as a
team that has a clean slate.”
No one knows better than Bowden how difficult it is to reach perfection when
a stopover in Gainesville is on the schedule. His teams are 5-6 there since
“We just finished half the season,” Bowden said after last season’s 49-10
victory over Maryland boosted his team’s regular-season win streak to 20 games.
“Now the other half comes,” he added in respect to Florida.
Bowden’s sons were a bit faster to perfection. In his first year at Auburn
in 1993, Terry Bowden took the Tigers to an 11-0 mark. Tommy Bowden, now in his
first season at Clemson, led Tulane to the same record last season in his
second year with the Green Wave.
“I’m jealous of them, naturally,” Bowden said. “I’d like to know what it
feels like some time.”