TALLAHASSEE — When Florida State coach Bobby Bowden knew he had to manipulate the early-season schedule to ease the suspension of key players as a result of the academic misconduct scandal, he was a bit taken aback.
"We called everybody," he said. "What they're asking for is unbelievable."
Some lower level Division I-A teams would come to Tallahassee for upward of $1-million. That's one reason (not the only one, to be sure) why FSU went after I-AA teams, Western Carolina for the opener then Chattanooga for Saturday's game.
FSU agreed to pay each Southern Conference lightweight $460,000.
Chattanooga also received $470,000 to go to Oklahoma on Aug. 30. The Sooners rolled to a 57-2 win.
"Obviously, the money is what you play those games for," Chattanooga coach Rodney Allison said recently. "Secondly, our guys at this level don't have the opportunity to step into that (kind of) arena every week, where maybe a guy who plays at that level of school, the Oklahomas and Florida States, play in that environment every single week. … We got to go to Oklahoma, stayed in the nicest hotels, ate the $32 dinners. We did it like the big boys do."
Good bet he didn't have his players splurge on dinner in Tallahassee. He had no idea the hotel in Oklahoma would "gouge you" for a "daggum dinner."
Some reinforcements: Junior WR Preston Parker will return against Wake Forest after serving a two-game suspension for his arrest in the offseason, but Bowden said junior DT Budd Thacker will be available, too. Thacker was involved in the academic misconduct scandal but missed a regular-season game and the Music City Bowl.
Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has been thrilled with the way his receivers have played so far, but he's sure he can find a way to get Parker involved in the offense.
"He's our energy," Fisher said. "In practice, he's our energy, he's our life. In practice, he's going a thousand miles an hour. It'll be great to get him back."
Kicking problems?: Bowden said he doesn't think senior K/P Graham Gano (right knee surgery last month) will be back for the Wake Forest game, not "unless he has a miracle happen next week that he hasn't told me about yet," and that's a concern.
Junior Zach Hobby (Countryside High) missed two of his three field goal attempts (44 and 43 yards; he hit from 43) and missed an extra point against Chattanooga. He missed a field goal (43 yards) and an extra point in the opener.
Freshman James Esco, who had been handling the kickoffs, tried and hit the last extra point.
Familiar face: Allison worked for Terry Bowden at Auburn (1993-98) and Tommy Bowden at Clemson (1999-2002). Longtime FSU fans might recognize him from his playing days at Texas Tech; he was the starting quarterback when FSU beat Texas Tech 40-17 in the 1977 Tangerine Bowl, Bobby Bowden's first bowl trip as the Seminoles' coach.