TALLAHASSEE — Bobby Bowden believes the Seminoles program is in such a good place that he will attend a game at FSU on Saturday for the first time since retiring after the 2009 season.
The NCAA's all-time Division I-A wins leader wanted coach Jimbo Fisher to have time to establish his identity and foundation. Now Bowden is no longer worried about being a distraction to the team he led to 31 bowl games, 12 ACC championships and two national titles.
"Jimbo's got control real good, now, and has established himself," Bowden said. "It's probably time for me to get back."
Bowden, who said the plan was to stay away for five years, will plant the flaming spear at midfield before the Seminoles take on North Carolina State.
Bowden wanted to give Fisher space after his experiences at West Virginia, where Bowden coached from 1970-75.
"I would get so many people saying, 'Why don't you do it like he did it?' " Bowden recalled being asked after replacing Jim Carlen. "Especially if you lost, they would bring up his name. I didn't want Jimbo to go through that.
"When you're following someone who's been there for 34 years — I felt like I needed to be out the doggone picture altogether and let them accept him."
Fisher is excited for the return of a mentor, but acknowledged he still feels the pressure of being Bowden's successor.
"It's what's right about the world," Fisher said. "He made Florida State. He was Florida State."
About 250-300 former players are expected to be on hand Saturday.
USF: Players return
TAMPA — USF QB Steven Bench (knee), RB Marcus Shaw (hamstring) and DT Tevin Mims (leg) returned to practice Tuesday after missing significant time because of injury.
Though they are not expected to start Saturday against No. 18 Louisville, the trio was fully dressed and participated in warm-up drills with the rest of the team.
Offensive coordinator Walt Wells said it's encouraging to see Bench and Shaw on the field for the first time since a win against Cincinnati on Oct. 5.
"All the indication is that things are going in the right direction and we'll see how it continues to go," Wells said.
"Obviously, they're good players and we want to have them out here and be able to utilize them in our offense. That's nothing against the guys we got. It's just the more players you've got the better chance you have to get in the end zone."
EVELD PREPARED: Senior QB Bobby Eveld said he's ready to make his second straight start in place of Bench.
The Jesuit High graduate played well in relief of Bench against Cincinnati, but struggled in his start at UConn, completing 8-of-28 passes for 106 yards and one interception. Eveld said he expects improvement across the board after getting extra work in during the bye week.
"We went back to the basics and just kind of drilled some of the first plays that we put in," Eveld said. "I think a lot of guys are coming along nice and I think they're finally getting what the coaches want them to get."
Jeff Odom, Times correspondent
UF: Facing Gurley?
ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia QB Aaron Murray believes RB Todd Gurley will be a "full go" against Florida on Nov. 2 after Gurley ran plays in practice for the first time since spraining his left ankle.
Gurley is the Bulldogs' leading rusher despite missing the last three games. Georgia lost back-to-back games to Missouri and Vanderbilt without Gurley.
The Bulldogs and Gators are off this week. Georgia listed Gurley as "limited, no contact" in Tuesday's practice.
The Bulldogs have lost their other top tailback, Keith Marshall, and WRs Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley to season-ending knee injuries. WR Michael Bennett has missed two games with a knee injury.