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November 9, 2008

Sunday Conversation: Bobby Bowden

Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden spoke with the media Sunday morning about the Seminoles' 41-27 victory against Clemson. Here is a transcript of that conversation:

Q: You've said that you don't want to talk much to your team about the possibility of playing for the ACC championship in Tampa because you don't want to get too far ahead. But wouldn't it be a good motivational tool?

A:
Yeah, but I don't know if it's something you need to mention. They're very aware of it. We'll throw in a snide remark every now and then: "We need this one. And if you win it, the next one becomes more important." That's about the way it is.

Q: Are you keeping up with the standings and trying to figure out you can get there?

A:
No. We would have to win our conference games, and Wake would have to lose one. That's about it, isn't it? I won't worry about it. I can't control theirs. We're going to control ours

Q: Obviously, it would be a big feat if you guys could accomplish it though.

A:
It really would.

Q: Would that be ahead of schedule, in terms of what you thought before the season?

A:
It would be what you had hoped. You'd hope that you hadn't planned for something less than that.

Q: Since the Wake Forest game, it seems like your offense has found a way to move the ball against virtually every defense you've faced. How much confidence do you have in that side of the ball now?

A:
A lot more. They have done a good job, bringing that dog-gone ball up there. They did it against Georgia Tech too. I feel a lot better. It sure does help, though, when your defense can throw something in there. Our defense scored the other night, and that put us right back in that ballgame. The best job we did last night probably was holding them down there on kickoffs and punts.

Q: Three of Gano's first kickoffs went for touchbacks.

A:
Now if you had him all year. We didn't have him for Wake. The first two games didn't make any difference. But then he didn't kick off against Miami. Then finally, he kicked off the second half against Georgia Tech, and they only scored one touchdown that half. Boy, he's really been a factor.

Q: He could be your MVP this season.

A:
Could very easily be.

Q: Going back to the offense, what do you think had made it so much more successful this season?

A:
Number one is your running game. You've got a very strong running game that they'd better be concerned about, better do something about. Number two, you've got a quarterback that is good on third down. You know, a quarterback could be excellent but not be good on third down, and you'd really be hurting. He has to make the third-down play. And he's making his share with his feet and his arm.

Q: Mickey Andrews really was raving about Jermaine Thomas last night. There's a kid who looks like he could really take off.

A:
You know, some of them come in with a reputation and don't do it. And some come in without a big reputation and do it. Boy, he's been exciting to watch.

Q: Has he shown as much promise as any young back that you've had?

A:
Probably. It's not promise he's already done it. It's not like you say, "Next year, maybe he'll be pretty good." He's doing pretty good right now. Greg Allen hit the scene like that, when Greg was here. I think the first game he started, I think he had (202) yards against LSU.

Q: Does Jermaine remind you of Greg Allen at all?

A:
Nah, they don't run alike.

Q: Who does he remind you of?

A:
They're all so different.

Q: A lot of times when you have young linemen, people assume that they'll be better at pass-blocking because they don't have to be so physically strong. But you guys are running the ball so well. How are you doing that?

A:
Quickness. It's Trickett's trademark. He wants to jump you before you can jump him. He's gonna get on you real quick. It's like a boxer that can jab good. Maybe doesn't have the big hit, but can keep you off of him all day jabbing. Now, pass-blocking is a little bit different, because they'll bull-rush you. If I'm going to pass-block him, I've got to stand right in front of him. And if he's big and strong, he can just bull-rush me. He doesn't have to worry about my quickness. So we've improved in that area, but that's where we've gotten hurt some people pushing us back into the quarterback.

Q: Back in the summer, when Coach Trickett came and said these are the five offensive linemen we're going to go with, would you have thought you'd be able to run like this?

A:
No, no way.

Q: You look at all these teams around the country running spread offenses and throwing the ball all over the place, like Texas Tech and the Big 12 schools. But Jimbo seems to have taken the offense back to a kind of old-school, ground game approach. Do you like that?

A:
That's exactly right. You see people like Oklahoma and Texas Tech, just spreading out and throwing it all over the field. And they're doing real good because they're all getting good athletes. But I like what Jimbo's doing. He's not forgetting the old football. He's gonna make you button your chinstrap if you're going to play us. That's where he's been effective.

Q: Everette Brown and the other defensive ends seemed to take control of that game last night.

A:
I thought our ends did a good job of putting pressure. Boy, you had to. You know the first big play when they hit old [C.J.] Spiller, and he ran it in for a touchdown? I said, "Oh, it's going to be like this all night." Because that guy is good. But the defense got better and better at it. The key was putting pressure on that quarterback. You give him time to throw, and he could do it.

Q: Neefy Moffett doesn't have a lot of tackles, but it seems like he makes a lot of big plays. He scored on that interception, he's had some sacks, he's caused a fumble is he just a natural big-play type kid?

A:
Yeah, maybe he's one of those guys that's in the right place at the right time. Maybe he has that knack. I still think he could do more. He has more ability than he realizes., if he'd go ahead and push it.

Q: A lot of the players talked about trying to regain some respect this week after the way they played against Georgia Tech. Did you sense that from Mickey and the other defensive coaches?

A:
Old Mickey, he doesn't frustrate easily. It's not like he blows up and all that. But he's got as fierce a competitive spirit down inside as anybody that I've been around. Chuck [Amato] is very much the same way, but he's quieter with it. They really work good together, 'cause Chuck knows just how to handle Mickey. And when I say handle, I mean do what he says to do, and yet throwing good thoughts and things. They work good together. And of course Odell and Jody are doing a good job also. But Mickey is one of the most fierce competitors I've ever seen. Mickey works as hard now as he did the first time I met him. He was all over the field, working, barking, and staying on kids every play. And he hasn't let up yet.

Q: You were pretty fired up on that one play before halftime.

A:
Jimbo and Chuck were out there talking to [the referee]. And our understanding was the ball would be right there either make them kick again or it's your ball right there. That's what they understood. Then we said, "OK, we want the ball right there." Then they start marking off 15 more yards. (laughing)

Q: How big of a surprise has Kendrick Stewart been?

A:
Very big. He played in the Kentucky ballgame, the bowl, because everybody was ineligible. And he did a good job. They rolled him out of there a few times he's not big, 265 or something like that. But he has really played good this year. I've really been pleased with the way he's played this year.

Q: Could you talk about the resiliency of this team? You got down early again, and then you fumbled a punt inside your 10-yard line. Then when it looked like you might put Clemson away, you roughed the punter and gave them new life. But this team always seems to battle back.

A:
That's exactly right. Of course, it just kills us, "Why did you drop that punt? Why did you rough that punter? Dad-gummit, it was fixing to be our ball." But our kids have come back. They just turn around and come back. That's the good part.

Q: Is Louis Givens on scholarship?

A:
No, but he's getting close though, ain't he? (laughing) He is a good kid. Watching him in practice last week, I told the staff Wednesday, "Men, I'm not afraid of that 89. If you want to play him, I'm not afraid of him." He is such a good kid. He's not big, but he can fly. And he makes all those tackles on special teams.

Q: Going back to Kendrick Stewart, what did you see during the summer that made you think that he could contribute more this year?

A:
Stewart is a good athlete. He is a tackle that is a good athlete. I don't know if you all have seen him do the backward jump. He can stand still and do a flip. Ain't bad for a defensive tackle. I've got to teach him how to flip forward. (laughing) But he's got good athletic ability for a defensive lineman. That's the only thing that saves him, when you're not big. He doesn't say much, just works hard.

Q: You now have seven wins, which is the total you finished with the last two years. How important is it to get past that number?

A:
We're not happy with that. But you can only look at them one game at a time. That's as old as it can be, but you better concentrated on BC. Don't you dare think about Maryland or anybody else, just BC. That's what we'll try to do this week.

Q: Myron Rolle has this situation where there's a good chance he's going to miss the Maryland game to go interview for the Rhodes Scholar program.

A:
Whatever he's got to do, he's got to do. You cannot take that opportunity away from a man. I just hope he makes it, hope he wins it, and we'll just have to do the best we can and hope he can get there some.

Q: How neat would that be for you? You've had Heisman Trophy winners. What would it be like to have a Rhodes Scholar on the team?

A:
Wouldn't it be something? That would be the highest of all really.

Q: You had three players suspended from the Clemson game Bert Reed, Jarmon Fortson and Nigel Carr. Are all of those one-game suspensions?

A:
Yeah.

Q: That's Bert's second suspension in three games.

A:
Oh yeah. I hope it's the last one. If they don't learn this way, they ain't gonna learn, are they?

Q: It's a nice luxury that you have other guys to fill in.

A:
It's a good lesson for them. "Hey son, we're not dependent on you. If you're going to do these things, you're going to pay the price. But our team is going to go forward with or without you. I think they get that message.

Q: You guys are going to be wearing the black jerseys again Saturday. Aren't the school colors garnet and gold? Are you a fan of these alternate jerseys they're doing now?

A:
Well, really, we're doing it for Nike. We've just got to be sure it's not a factor. Nike wants us to do it, and we started doing it three years ago. We talked to our kids about the uniform is not going to win a game. And a uniform is not going to lose a game. It's the guy inside of it.

Q: I could have sworn you said a few years ago that you were going to retire those black jerseys.

A:
(laughing) We won in them last year. Who did we play? Was it Duke? I should have worn them against Western Carolina?

Q: You've mostly gone back to kind of a traditional look this year, with the gold pants and the garnet tops.

A:
Yeah, that's purposefully. We're trying to go back to traditional uniforms instead of white pants. We wore gold pants with gold jerseys one year, and it was the worst thing I ever saw.

Q: You've worn all garnet too.

A:
Now, the kids love all garnet. They love solid garnet.

Q: It seemed like a pretty special moment last night when the crowd sang Happy Birthday in the final two minutes. I know you heard it.

A:
Oh yeah, couldn't help but hear it. The hard thing was making out like I couldn't hear it.

Q: It had to be pretty nice though.

A:
It is. I appreciate the folks doing that. I'm just glad we won the dog-gone game.

Q: Where's the cake?

A:
Which one? I've got two on my desk, one at home. They must have gave me four cakes. Half of one is in my belly. (laughing)

Q: Nobody tried to put candles on them did they?

A:
(laughing) I spoke to the prospects yesterday, and I said, "You know, they made me a cake with 79 candles on it, and all my grandchildren brought marshmallows. They thought it was a marshmallow roast. Then a couple of kids laid on a couple of steaks."

Q: Where was Tommy yesterday?

A:
He was up at Clemson. When he left Clemson, he went to Panama City and stayed about four or five days, and went back to Clemson.

Q: Have you talked to him since the game?

A:
No, I'll probably talk to him today. Tommy and I have always stayed close. Even when we played Clemson, he might call me twice a week. Or I might even call him.

Q: You talked to Dabo Swinney for a while after the game. Do you feel for his situation, being an interim head coach?

A:
I feel for all of them, because if they can do real good, they might could name him the head coach. Now if they don't, you'd look and say he ain't got a chance. That means all those coaches would have to go try to find a job. That's the sad thing about it.

Q: Did you talk to Brad Scott?

A:
Yeah, sure did. His son's coaching there too, by the way, Jeff.

Q: What do you make of the mid-season firings of coaches? There was Tommy and now Phil Fulmer. And the Kansas State coach is getting fired during his third year. And Syracuse hasn't announced that their coach is gone, but they've formed a search committee.

A:
The motor on the plane's cranked up out there, right? Well, naturally, I hate to see it. But I'm sure a lot of it goes back to the high salaries that coaches are making. Coaches are making high salaries, and they expect you to win. Now. I want you to win now. And then administrations, see what happens with these administrations. Everybody needs outside help to run their program contributions. So if you've got just one guy giving you millions, and he says, "I ain't gonna give it to you next year unless you get rid of those folka." That's when you find out how tough your administration is.

Q: How impressed are you by the job Nick Saban has done at Alabama this year?

A:
I'm amazed. That's the same team we beat last year. He's probably added eight or nine freshmen that come in, like that receiver (Julio Jones) he's got. Just a tremendous job. I'm amazed. I didn't think he could do it this quick.

Q: Is this "Head Coach In Waiting" thing with Jimbo going better than maybe you imagined?

A:
You know why it's been successful? The one thing that could have destroyed it was the acceptance by the other coaches. They could have not accepted it. But they all have accepted it and worked with it. And that's what's made it good. Of course, it was good for me, because I can get out when I want to get out.

Q: Some people say you were the key. That it wouldn't have worked if you didn't accept it.

A:
When T.K. [Wetherell] hit me with it, I said when people would ask who's going to replace me, I would always say, "I don't know, but I will recommend Mickey Andrews. He's been here all the time. But T.K. wanted a younger guy, so it's their call.

Q: You joked when you guys made the announcement last year that you had to chase him out of your desk. Has he done a good job of letting you still be the head coach?

A:
He really has. He's done a real good job of accepting it the way it is. And I think we've got that relationship.


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