This is Part 2 of the media press conference with Bobby Bowden on Sunday.
You know what a national-championship team looks like. You've coached one or two. Is Florida that kind of team?
BOWDEN: Yeah, I think so. I think they can compete. Now, Ohio State and Southern Cal, they might be in a class of their own, I don't know. But Florida could compete. It'd be a good game with any of them.
Drew Weatherford said he was looking forward to taking a little time off and not thinking about football for a little bit. What's the schedule going to be before you begin preparing for the bowl?
BOWDEN: We'll be off this week. We'll meet with them (Monday) and give them our schedule. But I'm not sure exactly what it is. . . . We'll probably be off, then practice, then be off for finals, and then practice all the way through Christmas. We've got to go out there before Christmas. We could always go out the day after Christmas, but the game will be over on the 27th. Our free time will have to come after that.
How important are those two weeks of practice since you have the bulk of this team coming back? How much do those extra practices that come with a bowl invitation help you in the future?
BOWDEN: The same thing we've always gotten out of it. We're going to practice the same amount of days. For all of the bowls we play in, we practice . . . Let me say this: It will be the same amount of practices. We have a set practice (schedule) we've used for 20-some years. We'll do the same thing. Now, we'll probably have to adjust it. We'll probably have to go two-a-days one of those days just to make up for the time we've got to put in. Other than getting a couple more weeks of practice, I don't know how important it is.
But for this team, at 6-6 and with all of the players who are coming back, will these two weeks of practice be more important than say it was five years ago for that team?
BOWDEN: It's all according to how good you are . . . Probably comparable. To say it is better now than it was then or better then than it is now, no. It's comparable.
You say with an offensive coordinator you are searching for what you have been lacking. What do you think you've been lacking?
BOWDEN: I'm looking for somebody that whatever we've been missing will have it. And no, I'm not going to tell you what that is.
You know in your head what you think it is?
BOWDEN: Oh, yeah.
Drew and several players mentioned that for some reason something has been missing from the offense.
BOWDEN: The only thing missing is we need to score more points than we do. They got three long (scoring plays) out of there yesterday and we got two long ones (referring to Lorenzo Booker's 34-yard run to the 1-yard line).
When you look at Florida, do you feel like there is a disparity in playmakers, that Florida just had more of them than you?
BOWDEN: My biggest concern with their offense was not them taking the ball and running it down our throat. That didn't scare me. But I've seen (Andre) Caldwell . . . I saw Caldwell against Alabama, I think, take a slot pass of about 3 yards and did what he did to us yesterday, got around the outside and down the sideline on a play that shouldn't have made more than 4 yards. I was scared of that more than anything, him, that freshman (Percy Harvin) and that (Dallas) Baker. I was wondering how are we going to contain those guys all day. You can only hold them so long, but they are going to get away some.
Then ours would get away some, too. But you could say they are in pretty good shape there.
It hasn't been very often that you have been a little short of playmakers for whatever reason. How much do you attribute to scheme and what you try to do on offense and how much do you attribute it to maybe you've got some pieces missing and you are not playing with the same cards?
BOWDEN: It's according to how much stock you put into blocking. None? Is it all X's and O's? The X's and O's are the same. It's blocking.
Blocking and somebody making great plays, that's what they did yesterday. They made great plays and they blocked well ... We just didn't get it done.
Drew said that one of the things that needed to get done was to find a way to get Greg Carr the ball more.
BOWDEN: It just doesn't always work that way. How about that great receiver at Georgia Tech who didn't get a single pass thrown to him two games ago? Who's going to let that guy run around free? Most of the time you are going to have a guy inside and outside, or underneath and over . . . Sometimes you are wasting your time throwing to them unless they can make a fantastic catch. But, that's why you've got to keep going to them because they might make a fantastic catch. But I remember games where we didn't get the ball to Pete (Warrick). Remember the Fiesta Bowl with Tennessee? Pete was running around open and we couldn't get him the ball ... We were playing our second-team quarterback.
As small as this recruiting class is going to be, how important is it for you to find a few play-makers or guys that can help you make a difference?
BOWDEN: Well, you've got all your receivers back except (Chris Davis). You lose (Lorenzo) Booker but the other runner (Antone Smith) is back ... You'd always like to have another great one. We'll always try to recruit a great one. A great runner, a great receiver, we wouldn't turn one down.
. . . Antone Smith is not bad. You know he'd just moved up to first team, and lasted two plays (before dislocating a shoulder against Western Michigan). Who knows what he might could have contributed. But we need others.
With the limited numbers you can recruit, where is the greater need?
BOWDEN: No. 1, this is one of those years where you'd just like to get the best players you can get no matter what position they play. But I know we need more help on the offensive line.
You've always said it is easier to climb than it is to maintain. It seemed like it was easy for you to maintain as well for all those years.
BOWDEN: We did maintain. That's the amazing thing. It's kind of like this year. You are so close, so doggone close. We couldn't do it. To me, it's different if ... 'All right, Coach Bowden, you're talking about Florida being a top-three football team and deserving to play for a national championship. How close are you to them?' Uh, well the game came down to the last minute. Are we that far off? Are we that far off with Clemson? Are we that far off from those people that beat us? But we lost, and there's no way I can justify that because we lost. But we're probably saying here, 'Coach, get one more great this, and we can do it. Get one more great this, and you can do it.' Whether that is a linebacker, a defensive tackle, a runner, or whether that is a receiver. But you are probably that darn close.
Is it frustrating to you that you did maintain all those years and then you go through a rough season and it seems like so many people are turning on you?
BOWDEN: Yeah, people are going to do that. All I do is fall in the category of fifty percent to the other coaches that lost yesterday. (He laughs) . . . I got to join that bracket this year. I don't like it. Again, can we next year take this football team Ð and we don't have to bring in another freshman now - we've got everybody back nearly . . . Can I take this team and make them a minute better. If we can, those one-minute losses become one-minute wins, now you're back.
Now we need some help from the injury thing. You never know what would have happened this year if we hadn't lost the guys that we lost. But that's football. That is football. Everybody else loses people, too.
Could you have blocked one more punt if you hadn't have lost Marcus Ball. Could you have returned a punt for a touchdown if you hadn't lost so and so? Could you have stopped that kickoff return if instead of playing those walk-ons you had been playing the two guys who are getting their knee operated on? There are so many dadgum variables like that involved in this doggone thing that next year maybe it could change.
You've always said when asked about retirement that the only thing that would drive you out is losing.
BOWDEN: That's exactly right. I'm sure glad I don't ever lose because I'd hate to quit.
. . . Yeah, I know that. I made that statement. The question I'd ask y'all, if you were me, where I am right now, would you quit? You've got to figure out what I'm talking about.
. . . Am I in position to quit? When you sign these players they all ask you, are you going to stay? I hate to tell them I'm staying and then I'm leaving. I'd rather they fire me than me leave, really . . . The one thing that would make me get out, since it keeps coming up, is if my players didn't want me, I wouldn't stay. I have no desire to get out right now.
Is there a certain fear about stopping?
BOWDEN: No, the easiest thing in the world for me would be to retire. That'd be so easy. I'd just leave. Then I'd go to Panama City and walk up and down the beach a few times, and look for another job.
How many times can you walk up and down the beach before you're looking for another job?
You also said last week that the thing you need to win is a fighting spirit and a great quarterback. Your quarterback situation has been up for grabs?
BOWDEN: I think it's fixing to be there. You were playing a senior quarterback at Florida. We were playing a red-shirt sophomore. Our boy will be a red-shirt junior next year. His back up will be a red-shirt junior. And we've got two freshmen who I think are going to be pretty doggone good. So I think next year ... . Our successful years we always had a red-shirt junior quarterback. So I really think these guys are going to have their stuff. You've got to learn the ropes.
Talking about retirement, are you also more determined to come back after a 6-6 season to fix it than if you were 11-1?
BOWDEN: If the university hinted that they didn't want me back, I would listen to them. Again, I don't know. I'm like those old fighters, I guess. You still think you've got another win in you. I still think Florida State can win another national championship. I know they can. Can I do it? Can I bring them back? . . . We'll find out.
When did the thought that you wanted to coach as long as you can strike you? Steve Spurrier looked at you and said he wasn't going to coach that long and now he's said he wants to coach five or six more years, so he'd be pushing toward 70. When did you get to that point in your life where you thought this is pretty good?
BOWDEN: (Laughs) That's one I nearly can't afford to answer. . . . When you are recruiting, if kids think you are leaving, your opponents are going to eat you alive with that. Notice how Joe (Paterno) keeps signing a five-year contract. I keep signing a five-year contract. When I do, I am honest. My hopes and desires are that I can fulfill it.
A week from Tuesday you are inducted into the hall of fame. Any thoughts now on what that ceremony will be like for you?
BOWDEN: (Laughs) What will that be like for me? It will be nice. I'll appreciate it.
Anything special about going in with Charlie Ward?
BOWDEN: Yeah, that's special too. Sure is. Charlie was with us with our first national championship. He's such a hero here. It's a pleasure going in with him. . . . There are probably about 10 others that ought to go in, too. They got me there.
Have you talked to Larry Coker at all, or will you?
BOWDEN: I've written him a note when he lost that player (Bryan Pata). We've kind of communicated through other people.
How tough has this year been on you personally?
BOWDEN: It's been very tough. Tough on me and my wife both. Losses are just dadgum tough, you know. You've got coaches all over the country who feel the same way, but the losses are the toughest part to me.
Any more comments on Jeff stepping down as offensive coordinator?
BOWDEN: No. 1, I hate to see him get out of it. But he can sit back now and take his time. . . . I'm sure he's going to get back into coaching. But I hated it turned out that way. It was kind of like when you hired him, he didn't have a chance. He didn't have a chance. Right off the bat that nepotism thing jumped up there, then you lose a couple of ballgames and everybody reverts back to that.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
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