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North Carolina Tar Heels up for planning challenge of Thursday game against Florida State Seminoles

bowden future: FSU’s Bobby Bowden, right, says Jimbo Fisher knows his plans for next year but both are keeping quiet.

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bowden future: FSU’s Bobby Bowden, right, says Jimbo Fisher knows his plans for next year but both are keeping quiet.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina marked a football first with the Thursday night game against Florida State.

The Tar Heels had been part of ESPN's version of "Must-See TV" on six other occasions, but never as the hosts.

"It took a tremendous amount of willingness on a lot of people's parts," UNC coach Butch Davis said.

That's an understatement. UNC Hospitals, which is located within a long field goal of Kenan Stadium and shares parking places with the football facility, agreed to close its clinics at 3 p.m. The UNC Human Resources had the work day end for all UNC employees at 3 instead of 5 p.m. to ease traffic concerns. UNC chancellor Holden Thorp and athletic director Dick Baddour were able to schedule the game during the school's fall break to minimize academic concerns.

"It's one of the pieces and the evidence that there's continuing momentum and support for the football program here," Davis said of such cooperation that was required.

Some of those hurdles are why FSU has hosted a Thursday night game just once, in 2002 against Clemson. (FSU also holds classes in Doak Campbell Stadium.)

"We have a policy here we're not going to do it," coach Bobby Bowden said. "It's administrative. It's because of the disruption of the academic community and the facilities and parking places."

Bowden's future: Bowden continues to be coy about his retirement plans, but it does seem clear his intention is to return for the 2010 season.

"If you're making your decision today (it is)," he said during an ESPN interview on Thursday. "The way I've always done is at the end of the year, I let the university know do I plan to return another year. That's the way it's always been done."

He said heir Jimbo Fisher "knows exactly what my plans are and he's to keep it quiet." Bowden said he had hoped he could finish his career and simply announce, "Hey, everybody, I'm through." That's what UNC iconic basketball coach Dean Smith did.

"But I found out in the last couple of weeks it doesn't work that way," Bowden said.

First timer: FSU sophomore LB Nigel Carr started for the first time in his career, subbing for injured senior Dekoda Watson (groin). Also, senior DT Justin Mincey (knee) made his first appearance of the season.

Award watch: FSU QB Christian Ponder was added Thursday to the Manning Award list.

Numbers game: The Seminoles improved to 6-4 on Thursday nights.

Fan support: Former FSU stars Everette Brown, a rookie DE with Carolina, and LB Buster Davis, who was recently released by Houston, were on the Seminoles' sideline. Meanwhile, former UNC and NFL great LB Lawrence Taylor was on the Tar Heels' sideline. It was his first game here since his senior season in 1980.

NFL presence: Despite FSU and UNC entering the game winless in ACC play (0-3 and 0-2, respectively), 24 NFL officials (scouts or player personnel directors or general managers) were expected at the game.

North Carolina Tar Heels up for planning challenge of Thursday game against Florida State Seminoles 10/22/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 23, 2009 1:02am]

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