Coach Spurrier has talked about keeping this game in perspective this week. Is that just being naive because he's new to this rivalry?
Bowden: No, I don't think it would be naive. A guy of his experience who's been in big games. Washington-Dallas, Florida-Florida State, Florida-Georgia. Look at his track record. I don't think he would be naive.
So how do you keep it in perspective?
Bowden: I think the team gets some motivation off of ya'll and watch ya'll write. Every time they turn on the TV, radio, Internet, the game is mentioned. What's important is how I approach my team. Right now they are playing with a lot of confidence. We are probably playing the masters of all masters in terms of attacking personnel through the course of a game. He does that better than anybody. They know how to win. It's not like those guys don't know how to win. He's good at picking teams apart. As you look at all the pluses they have, we'll have to play extremely well. So you say, well how do you prepare your team? I have to make sure my team goes in feeling, that they aren't tight or tense. We are going to have to play extremely well again. We are probably going in as underdogs again.
Looks like you could be the underdog for this game. Is that role your prefer?
Bowden: I prefer the underdog. My last game (as a player) against Syracuse, I got off the scales at 5-9, 158 pounds. I've always been an underdog. I think a lot of guys that were not heavily recruited coming out of high school, we are probably used to being an underdog. But that doesn't give me any more reason for success. He's had 150 wins, and I've had 50 here. So underdog doesn't necessarily help you.
Where does 5-1 against Lou Holtz stand among your career achievements?
Bowden: I think that would be something I might reflect back on when I get out of coaching. I personally don't think that's going to be anytime soon. When I retire, and I'm walking along the beach, pushing my father, I can look back on that.
If South Carolina has out-recruited you five of the last six years, how have you owned them?
Bowden: It's a rivalry. As you can say, you can throw out the statistics. Again, there's a new sheriff and he's shooting different bullets.
Has the subject of the brawl last year come up very much this week?
Bowden: The subject of the brawl has not come up really any. As I mentioned last week I was addressed the team after what happened against Vanderbilt entering the game last weekend about being too emotional.
That was tough for you last year, not going to a bowl game?
Bowden: No doubt. That's the hardest part, dealing with adversity. I was in uncharted waters, so was our administration.
Do you expect the officials to be more trigger happy?
Bowden: Yes. I just hope they are equally trigger-happy.
Do these teams generally dislike each other on the football field?
Bowden: ‘Dislike' ... I don't know the right word. It's a rivalry. It's a pretty strong uncomfortable feeling when you are playing through the course of a game.
Do you feel Coach Spurrier's success is attributed to his X's and O's? Or is it something else?
Bowden: He's a great motivator. One of the things that always impressed me about him, going hat for hat 60 minutes with a team like Florida State, a team that's loaded with NFL talent, and then the next game (SEC Championship Game) he's got to play Alabama, Auburn, LSU and he won a lot more of those than he loss. 'Man, how do you keep your team up six or seven days later?' It always amazed me. He's probably a better motivator than probably people give him credit for. It's his ability to get his team to rise to the occasion. We'll see an extremely confident team Saturday. He's doing things at South Carolina that haven't been done at South Carolina in a long time.
Do you think Spurrier has a lot to do with Mitchell's success?
Bowden: He's a talented young man, one. He committed to them early or else he probably would have had a lot more offers. He's done that everywhere he's been.
Do you remember how you felt when you first found out that South Carolina hired Steve Spurrier?
Bowden: Sickness. That's just been my luck. Finally got the job I've dreamed about. Then they go and hire a Hall-of-Fame guy followed by another Hall of Fame guy.
Would beating Spurrier help you in recruiting considering his stature and what he's accomplished before arriving at South Carolina?
Bowden: I don't think there's any doubt that a National Championship helps recruiting. He's tall. A good golfer. Better looking than me. Darker hair that I've got.
You said a few years ago that you learned to appreciate the rivalry even more after losing a game in it. Do you remember that feeling?
Bowden: I've experienced it as an assistant from an Alabama perspective, losing to Alabama. No. I still remember the year. You really don't ever use that. I hate losing to anybody. I get sick when we lose anyway. I think my sickness is the same, it just lasts longer.
What is the status of Charlie Whitehurst for Saturday?
Bowden: His preparation, or the amount of preparation we'd like to see, will be the same as last week. We'll know today, which involves more throwing. If he doesn't do it today and tomorrow, then pre-game is insignificant. What he does today, and what he does tomorrow, I'm not going to share with you until Saturday anyway.
Everything seems so much more cordial this year with this game. Would you agree?
Bowden: I think the statement I made earlier about being 0-10 or 10-0. I think that's a maturity standpoint on my behalf. This is a humbling profession. If you don't, you will be. I know that's the way it is with me. I haven't read what he's been saying anyway, but maybe we'll find out today because his press conference is today.
The experience of a quarterback like Charlie Whitehurst, how valuable is that to have if he can play Saturday?
I think if he's healthy, and he's prepared, the quarterback with the most experience in big games gives you an advantage.
South Carolina total offense is ranked 105th in the country. Clemson is 50th. Many other statistics point to Clemson being a better team this year, yet your are playing the underdog role across the board.
Bowden: I think a lot of that goes to strength of conference. Most of you agree that the SEC is a strong conference. So I think that's attributed to the toughness of the SEC.
So you are saying the SEC is a better league?
Bowden: I think, like anything else. Teams and coaches have their cycles. The ACC has had their time. The Pac 10 has their time. I think based on top to bottom, and who've they played and who've they beaten, that's why the statistics.
Your ability to run the ball on Saturday, is that important for you once again?
Bowden: It's going to be important. You've got six blockers; they are going to have six or seven defenders. You best be able to hit something downfield occasionally. They have been very successful. Yes, we've got to run the football. We've got to be very smart in how we attack. Their best player, No. 10, that's the guy you don't have a hat for. He's a good tackler and he's up there and you don't have a blocker for him. Now when you do that, those guys are on islands and there is a lot of green space. We do have to run the ball, but we have to be smart not to bring
What you will remember about Charlie's career?
Bowden: Other than the wins over Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida State, Miami, I think he's benefited this univeristy from a recruiting standpoing, from a leadership standpoint. I don't think you really learn about life until you experience a season like he did during his junior year. You saw how he responded. He rebound(ed) after his junior year and it was nice of him not to blame it on me. And the big wins.
Tommy Bowden's Press Conference
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