Father yet to know best
FSU's Bowden chases elusive goal: perfect season
Posted: Tuesday January 04, 2000 12:12 AM
Icing on the cake: An undefeated season would make the trophy case complete for Bobby Bowden. AP
By Paul Crane, CNN/SI
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Bobby Bowden is in the midst of an unprecedented run of success, a record 13 consecutive seasons of 10 or more wins while finishing in the nation's top four each of the last 12 years.
But Bowden has two sons, Tommy and Terry, who have already accomplished something he has never done: complete an undefeated season.
"I would sure like to have one," says the elder Bowden. "Gee wiz, I am running out of years. If I was young, I wouldn't think much about it." (06)
Bobby Bowden's office is a testament to his remarkable career: two trophies commemorating his '93 national championship, various coach-of-the-year honors, even a Heisman Trophy. But an empty picture frame also defines Bowden's career. It awaits a photograph of his first-ever unbeaten team.
"We want to be the first team in that picture and throw a national championship in there, and it will be special for Coach Bowden," says offensive lineman Jason Whitaker.
Over the past 20 years, Bowden has come close to filling the picture frame. Eight of his Florida State teams ended their season with only one loss. In 1992, Bowden suffered his second-straight wide right heartbreak against Miami. In '96 and '97, Bowden's only losses came against arch-rival Florida, one in the national championship and one on a last-minute pass to a wide-open Jacquez Green.
"We have had undefeated seasons, but got beat in the bowl," says Bowden. "So we've never had a perfect record here. Now, if we can win one more game, we would have a perfect resume. That would be nice to have on your resume."
This season, Bowden had to contend with the first ever father-son game, his 300th career win against Tommy's Clemson Tigers. More significantly, there were the arrests of five of his players, including one-time Heisman Trophy candidate Peter Warrick.
"Coach Bowden has meant a lot to me," says Warrick. "If it wasn't for Coach Bowden I wouldn't be sitting here right now. ... I just thank him for it, and for us to go 12-0, it would make his day. I would just love to be on that 12-0 team."
This is the third undefeated team Bowden has taken to a bowl game. Now 70 years old, even with a new five-year contract, he may be running out of time. Says wife Ann, "Bobby's kind of getting to the point, where, you know, he might not have too many more chances."
"I am not spoiled," says Bobby. "I've spent so many years in my life being 2-9 and 4-6 and 5-5, that to be up here 11-1 or 11-0 with a game to play ... I haven't gotten so spoiled that it bothers me."
But there is no denying, one more win and Bowden's season would become "picture" perfect
"I think the will to win," says All-American Corey Simon, "and to go undefeated and give Coach Bowden his second national championship and first undefeated team, are things that motivate us more than anything else."
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