Leavitt: FSU's Bowden 'a tremendous coach'
USF coach Jim Leavitt didn't want to say anything about retiring FSU coach Bobby Bowden at Monday night's practice, and even after widespread reports that the Seminoles' bowl game would be Bowden's last, Leavitt was hesitant to say much about the significance of his retirement during his 1 p.m. press conference Tuesday.
"I don't know if it's going to happen or not. I don't go by those kinds of things," Leavitt said. "Coach Bowden is a tremendous coach, as I've always said. I hope that's not the case. What he's done for college football is extraordinary. Nobody else in the state of Florida, certainly down in the Southeast, has done anything close to what he (has done) or will ever do. Hopefully that's not the case. Hopefully he'll coach another five years. I hope he comes down here in another couple years to Tampa (when USF plays FSU in 2012). Until I know anything, I don't (want to say anything.)"
Again, FSU itself has confirmed that Bowden will retire after this season, but we asked Leavitt if, when the Bulls beat Florida State in September, he had considered his first time facing Bowden might be his last.
"No," Leavitt said. "I just didn't want to get speared by the guy riding the horse. I wasn't thinking about that. It was a hot day. I was about to faint. Talking to Coach Bowden, I remember what I said, 'Coach Bowden, you want to run a few sprints with me?' He looks at me and goes 'What?' He's a good man. I wouldn't think like that. I was trying to find a way. How in the world are we going to win this game with a freshman quarterback? The odds were kind of against us, I'd say. I don't think too many people thought with B.J. (Daniels), with anyone, that we'd go into Tallahassee and win that game, especially with a freshman quarterback with like a week of work. (And) the fourth quarter of Charleston Southern game, but Charleston Southern's a little bit different from Florida State."
We probably could have cut that quote down a bit, but it's more fun just to run it in its entirety. With Bowden's retirement, Leavitt will now be the most tenured coach in the state of Florida. Asked about that, Leavitt was again still just hopeful that Bowden wasn't in fact retiring.
"I haven't thought about that," Leavitt said. "I don't know. I don't know anything about that stuff. Hopefully he'll stay, because I don't need to be the older guy."
Reassured that Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger would still be 22 years older than him, Leavitt agreed.
"He's got a few years on me," said Leavitt, who turns 53 on Saturday.