Florida State legend Bobby Bowden's last game before he retires will be, as expected, in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1 against his old school, West Virginia.
"It excites me to know that we're going to go to the Gator Bowl," Bowden said. "The first bowl I was associated with was as an assistant coach at Florida State in 1964 when we played Oklahoma in the Gator Bowl."
Nor is it lost on him that FSU's NCAA-leading streak of 28 bowl appearances began in 1982 in the Gator against West Virginia, a school he spent 10 formative years at as an offensive coordinator (1966-69) then head coach (1970-75).
For Bowden, who is 4-0 in the game, including 2-0 against the Mountaineers (9-3 and ranked No. 18), this is a tantalizing and fitting punctuation mark to his career.
The Gator Bowl drew some criticism for bypassing ACC teams with better records than FSU (6-6), including Miami (9-3) and Clemson (8-5). Gator Bowl Association chairman Daniel Kennedy Murphy said during Sunday night's official announcement that his group followed what its contract allowed and did what was best for his game and his community.
"We're putting together two tremendous programs, two great teams this season, one Hall of Fame coach," he said. "I'm not sure any bowl in America could put together a more compelling matchup in this year's bowl season than what we've been able to put together right here. From my standpoint, I'm really not sure what we would apologize for."
He expects a sellout and perhaps a record, surpassing the 85,412 that came to Jacksonville for the FSU-Alabama regular-season game in 2007.
FSU hires RB coach
Florida State's Jimbo Fisher will take over for Bowden after the bowl game, but he's already retooling the staff for next season.
The Seminoles will be adding Tennessee assistant Eddie Gran to coach the running backs and special teams, the same positions he held in Knoxville.
Gran was in his first season at Tennessee after spending the previous 15 as an assistant to Tommy Tuberville at Ole Miss and Auburn. Gran, a strong recruiter, helped groom Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Deuce McAllister and Brandon Jacobs for the NFL. He recently interviewed for the head coaching job at Memphis.
His arrival likely means former FSU star Dexter Carter will be out after three seasons as the running backs coach. Jody Allen has been coordinating the special teams, but he also works with the defensive ends and his future could hinge on who is hired as defensive coordinator.