Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Champs Bowl excites Florida State Seminoles coach

Florida State will make a short drive to Orlando for the Champs Sports Bowl and a first-time matchup with Wisconsin on Dec. 27. But for Bobby Bowden, the trip takes him for a far longer ride:

Down memory lane all the way back to his second year as the Seminoles' coach, 1977, when his team reached the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, which at the time was a major accomplishment.

"That will always be one of my fondest bowls," he said Sunday evening.

Back then, his Seminoles had rebounded from a 5-6 season to go 9-2 in the regular season and get to a bowl for the first time since 1971. They routed Texas Tech to end nationally ranked.

"I remember all that, (but) the main thing I can remember is the visit," he said, calling Orlando one of the most family-friendly cities in the United States or even the world. He got the chance to go to Disney World for, he believes, the first time during that trip.

"Mickey Mouse and I are about the same age. I don't know if you knew that," said Bowden, 79, laughing.

But Bowden also said he likes the pairing with a school neither he nor FSU has faced. In fact, this affords a rare Big Ten matchup and the first since the '06 Orange Bowl against Penn State, a 26-23 loss in triple overtime.

"I like the contrast. I like the North vs. the South contrast," he said. "That's better than playing somebody from Mississippi or Louisiana. I think it'll be a very interesting game."

Will it be for the fans?

Despite a 45-15 loss at home to Florida in its regular-season finale, FSU seemed a safe bet for the Gator Bowl. But officials with that game, hoping to lure more fans or at least more fans who would fill hotel rooms and create more of an economic impact for Jacksonville, opted for Clemson.

That decision, seen as a snub by some fans, meant the Seminoles wouldn't appear in a New Year's Day game for the third straight year. FSU met UCLA in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27, 2006, then Kentucky in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.

Not that the Champs organizers are complaining.

"We're excited largely because Florida State's a very good football team," bowl executive director Steve Hogan said. "They're very deserving, and to have a shot at that team alongside North Carolina and Boston College … were huge opportunities for us.

"But Florida State, we have nothing but the utmost respect for the program. And Coach Bowden is a special person, and the chance to play it against a Big Ten team he hadn't been able to face before was really a great opportunity."

fast facts

Champs Sports Bowl

Who: Wisconsin (7-5) vs. Florida State (8-4)

When/where: 4:30 p.m. Dec. 27; Citrus Bowl, Orlando


Tickets: $60;,

Champs Bowl excites Florida State Seminoles coach 12/07/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 12, 2008 12:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NCAA coaches among 10 charged with fraud and corruption


    NEW YORK — Four college basketball coaches were among those facing federal charges Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said.

    In this March 15, 2012, file photo, San Diego State assistant coach Tony Bland, left, talks during NCAA college basketball practice in Columbus, Ohio. Bland was identified in court papers, and is among 10 people facing federal charges in Manhattan federal court, Tuesday in a wide probe of fraud and corruption in the NCAA, authorities said. [AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File]
  2. Steinbrenner alum Erika Peitersen makes instant impact for UT soccer


    TAMPA — University of Tampa women's soccer coach Erin Switalski said it's always difficult to predict a freshman's performance.

    University of Tampa midfielder/forward Erika Peitersen (Courtesy of UT)
  3. Donald Trump calls for NFL to set a rule forbidding players from kneeling during national anthem


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is up and tweeting, and his target is the NFL.

    The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones, center, take a knee prior to the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Monday in Glendale, Ariz. [AP photo]
  4. No gimmes in scrappy Wiregrass Ranch's volleyball district

    Volleyball Preps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Wiregrass Ranch High coach Michelle Davis is realistic about her volleyball team this season. They will scrap for every point. They will never give up. They will encourage each other no matter what.

     Wiregrass Ranch High School girls volleyball player Jaizah Anderson (2) gets ready to spike the ball during Thursday's (9/21/17) match with Zephyrhills High School in Zephyrhills, Fla.