Dec. 26, 2009
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – From points near and far, members of the Florida State football team trickled into the Jacksonville Omni Hotel Saturday to begin final preparations for the 65th annual Gator Bowl, set for Jan. 1, 2010 at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
After a brief orientation meeting – with all 110 players in attendance – the team headed out to Jacksonville University for a light, 12-period workout, where they were greeted by a couple dozen media members anxious to chronicle coach Bobby Bowden’s final game as the Seminoles’ head coach.
FSU senior defensive captain Dekoda Watson said Bowden has made a point to down-play putting too much emphasis on this being his final game.
“I don’t think there’s been that much talk between the players because Coach Bowden has said, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m going to be all right,'” said Watson. “He’s been very reassuring and has made it feel like it’s going to be all right. That’s one thing he’s said. Just worry about playing for each other and not worry about playing for him.”
Bowden said getting the team focused on the task at hand – preparing for No. 18 West Virginia – is the top priority in the days leading up to the game.
“Once you hit the field and start your warm-up all of that (talk about his retirement) is behind you and they can concentrate strictly on the ballgame,” Bowden said. “We’ve had good practices (in Tallahassee). Now we’ve got to pick it up and be sure the kids have their mind on what they’re supposed to do.”
While preparing the challenges the Mountaineers pose is the prime concern, Bowden will have a few new challenges of his own once he returns to Tallahassee, thanks to a couple new Christmas gifts.
“I got a computer,” said Bowden, who has never used one with any regularity. “That’s going to be a good experience. I’m getting a cell phone. I’ve had one, but all I can do is turn it on and off. I’ve got to learn all of that stuff.
“The main thing I want to do is see what’s happening in the world. The main thing is I want to get it where I can set up speaking engagements and things like that.”
After a Gator Bowl welcome dinner at the team hotel Sunday night, the Seminoles will return to the practice field Sunday morning.