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)

Gator Bowl: Florida State Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden tries to ignore the finality

Bobby Bowden, the Grand Marshal of the Gator Bowl Parade, made his first booster stop as Seminoles coach in Jacksonville.

Associated Press

Bobby Bowden, the Grand Marshal of the Gator Bowl Parade, made his first booster stop as Seminoles coach in Jacksonville.

JACKSONVILLE — Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said the reality that today's Gator Bowl will be his final game has sunk in, not that he has paid any attention to it.

"The way I feel, it's another ball game and, then of course, when the game is over it'll be my last one. It's not a big deal to me," he said Thursday.


Well, after Wednesday morning's final practice, his last one, he and his players shared a poignant moment. They huddled at midfield as usual, but this time the players put a hand on Bowden, and team chaplain Clint Purvis led them in a prayer.

"Is it emotional for me? It's gratifying and I thank them for doing that and it's meaningful to me," said Bowden, who later served as grand marshal of the Gator Bowl parade and tooled around town in a red Corvette convertible. "The thing I'll miss the most is the guys. The thing I'll miss the most, no doubt, is the boys. And not just the ones who are here. I'll miss the (Chris) Weinkes. I'll miss the (Charlie) Wards. I'll miss the Ron Simmons. I'm sure I'll run into them somewhere, but it's the people you've been with that you miss. That's part of life. Gee whiz, there's more to life to me than football, folks."

FSU is expecting more than 300 former Seminoles to be at the game, lining up as Bowden and his players walk into the stadium. (Bowden, in vintage form, quipped he hopes there's some folks waiting for them on the walk; "You ever try to slap a hand and there ain't one there.")

"I think I'm truly blessed," senior LB Dekoda Watson said. "Yes, it's going to be very emotional out there. I know once we hit the field there's going to be a lot of people out there supporting Bobby Bowden, whether it's West Virginia or Florida State (fans). It's going to be a very special moment, and it's going to be emotional for all of us."

Coming full circle: Bowden said he couldn't be happier about being in the Gator Bowl, saying his Seminoles (6-6) were "very fortunate" to receive the invitation and it "seems like it was meant to be."

After he took the Florida State job in January 1976, the first stop on his inaugural spring tour of booster clubs was Jacksonville.

"That's kind of where we started," he said. "It's also where it's going to end."

Where's the love? Although the Mountaineers understand the attention the Seminoles and Bowden have received the last few weeks, senior LB Reed Williams said they feel somewhat slighted.

"It's weird," he said. "We continue to win football games, but we still don't get the respect we deserve."

The final word: "If I could have won some more ball games, I'd have signed another five-year contract with the way I feel. I feel good, you know it? But I didn't win enough daggum games to deserve it." — Bowden

. today

Gator Bowl

Florida State vs. West Virginia, 1 p.m.; Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville

TV/radio: Ch. 10; 1040-AM

Line: West Virginia by 21/2

Gator Bowl: Florida State Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden tries to ignore the finality 12/31/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 8:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Four batters into his return from a lengthy stay on the disabled list CF Kevin Kiermaier found himself embroiled in a "did he" or "didn't he" debate Friday.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  3. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  4. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.
  5. Florida starter under center still under wraps


    GAINESVILLE — With two weeks before Florida opens its season against Michigan, the Gators' three-way quarterback battle remains wide open.

    Luke Del Rio, right, is in the mix to start against Michigan in the season opener … as is Malik Zaire and Feleipe Franks.