The coaching edge
Longtime FSU assistants know what it takes to win
Posted: Saturday January 02, 1999 07:58 PM
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
TEMPE, Ariz. (CNN/SI) -- The subject is experience, the bowl kind, and what it really means.
Florida State has a ton of it. A page in their postseason media guide crows that FSU is "America's Top Bowl Team." The Seminoles are playing in a bowl for the 17th straight year and are 15-3-1 under Bobby Bowden, 14-1-1 in the last 16 years, and had a streak of 11 straight wins broken in 1997.
Tennessee has had some postseason success, too, but it hardly matches that of FSU. The Volunteers are in their 10th straight bowl, their 17th in the last 18 years. They are 11-5 in their last 16.
"We've been to a lot of bowl games ... as well," said Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. "We don't think that will be much of a factor."
The history of bowl games certainly doesn't mean much to the players. Both sides have plenty of players who have been in big games.
"It's a tradition," said Dexter Jackson, Florida State's starting free safety. "But we have the same coaching staff that has made Florida State win so much, and that's big. I think that's what keeps us recruiting the good players and rebuilding like we do, year after year. And winning bowl games."
If Florida State has a major experience edge over Tennessee, it's in the coaching department. Bowden has been head coach for 23 years in Tallahassee. Seven of his 10 assistants have been there at least 10 years. Only one of Bowden's assistants has left since the Seminoles won the national championship in 1993.
So FSU coaches, many of whom are in their fourth Fiesta Bowl, know how to handle the pressures that come with a big bowl game, know how to run practices in a strange environment, know how hard to push their players -- and, as they've shown, they know how to win.
Will it be enough to win Monday, though?
"It don't hurt," Bowden said.
Around the Fiesta Bowl
"I kept my distance from them. I'm not a big fan of bees," offensive tackle Ross Brannon said.
"You're not fast enough to get away from them," said sidelined quarterback Chris Weinke.
"Faster than you," the 300-pound Brannon replied.
Price had 10 touchdown catches this season, including a 71-yarder against South Carolina, a 22-yarder against Houston and a 67-yarder against Vanderbilt. The routes for those catches were 2 yards, 5 yards and 5 yards, respectively.
And part of it is increased confidence in the player they call "Rooster," the indomitable Outzen, a crew-cutted redhead who may be the most confident player on the field Monday night.
Pressure? Nah, he says.
"I don't feel any more -- maybe even less -- than I did for the Florida game," he said. "If I didn't feel confident, didn't feel more calm out there, I wouldn't be able to do the things I do. It not only helps me. It helps my team. They thrive off my energy, I think."
Said Tee Martin, his Tennessee counterpart: "I don't know. I've seen him walking around here, and he looks confident. He looks good. We'll see, I guess."
"It feels like I've been here three weeks," said Tennessee linebacker Al Wilson.
Around the Fiesta Bowl will run every day through the big game on Monday night.
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