FORT LAUDERDALE — A subtle smile formed in the corner of Florida State assistant James Coley's mouth when he was asked Friday morning to take a trip down memory lane.
As he smiled, images of his younger self — part free-spirited, football-starved teen, part amateur parking attendant — flashed through his mind.
Coley, who grew up less than two blocks from the site of the old Orange Bowl in Miami, which was demolished in 2008, chuckled when asked about his fondest recollections of his hometown and what football once was like in the region where his current team will soon play.
"As kids in that community, that was our playground," he said. "Hide and seek, and running out onto the field and throwing the football and being chased by the security guards. … And parking cars. You might have parked at my house if you went to one of those games."
Serving as FSU's lead South Florida area recruiter, Coley still finds himself in familiar territory somewhat regularly, but the nostalgia on this trip is different. For the first time since becoming a college assistant six seasons ago, the Seminoles' offensive coordinator and tight ends coach will be part of the Orange Bowl game.
When the Seminoles face Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Coley will be coaching in his first BCS bowl game. He said FSU faces a great challenge.
"This is probably the hardest-playing — with regards to morale, rallying to the ball — (defense) that we've seen. It's one of the top we've seen this year," Coley said.
RECRUITING EDGE: One advantage FSU enjoys by playing a postseason game in South Florida comes in the form of recruiting.
In recent seasons, the Seminoles have tried to tap back into that talent-rich area. And this week, the Seminoles have a rare opportunity to market themselves. Recruits can not only take in practices but see the police escorts, heightened media attention and other trappings of a BCS bowl experience.
The Seminoles have seen about 15-20 recruits since their arrival here, coach Jimbo Fisher said.
NEW LOOK: Northern Illinois will debut an upgraded look next week with newly designed uniforms from Adidas. The Huskies will wear white jerseys that will feature more stylized trims, bigger and bolder lettering, and bright red pants.