Family Ties

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, now the winningest major college football coach in history, doesn't have much time to celebrate. There's simply too much at stake, starting with Saturday's important road game at Notre Dame. While Bowden's attention will focus squarely on the struggling Fighting Irish, Bowden took time Sunday to address a hot topic of conversation this season -- the progress of son Jeff as FSU's offensive coordinator. Click here for that Q & A.

You had to defend Jeff on your call-in show this week. You seemed pretty ruffled by that question about Jeff.

"Yeah, that was an awful question, to ask on a talk show. You know, the thing that I see, and I guess why it irritates me, is people here, naturally -- because this is what they watch -- it's tunnel vision. 'I watch Florida State's quarterback. I watch Florida State's offense. I don't know what's happening over there at Georgia, and I don't know what's happening over at Auburn and Alabama.' I was just thinking about Jeffrey -- Jeffrey does what I want him to do. He teaches them to block. He teaches them to execute. Teaches them this and that. I nearly want to say, 'OK, let's get rid of Jeffrey. Now who do y'all want to hire in his place? You want the guy in Athens? We'll get him. Vanderbilt shut 'em out in the first half, but that's who you want to bring in here? They scored 16 yesterday against UAB, but let's change Jeffrey and him. You want to bring in the guy from Florida? Let's bring the guy in from Auburn. Let's bring the guy in from Auburn, or Georgia Tech. They're good people. They're all good.

"He's like the rest of them. Offense is a fickle thing. It's fickle. Sometimes you're hot, sometimes you're cold. Jeffrey, in my opinion, will get better and better and better. So anyway, it rankles me. I shouldn't let it, because that's just the way it is. But I can't believe a guy asked me, am I going to fire my son? I can't believe that. I shouldn't get upset about that. It's just football. That's the way it is nowadays."

Your offensive coordinators have always seemed to take three or four years to get their complete rhythm, right?

"Oh, it's been the same way here. I lost what I thought were close friends over Mark Richt. They were like, 'You've got to get rid of him. You must get rid of him. You've got to. He's the only thing holding us back.' Back when we were winning a lot, you know? It's the nature of the job. Brad (Scott), same way. Same with Wayne McDuffie. That's the way it goes. That's the way the ball bounces. Of course, you'd better not tell Wayne, unless you're ready to defend yourself (laughing)."

Isn't it harder on Jeff, because people want to say the only reason he has the job is because his dad is the head coach?

"That's the bad part about it. That's what Jeffrey had to realize. This is one of the negative things you'll get in this job. I don't care what happens, they're going to say it's because your daddy did it. And yet, when you're a head football coach, like I am, you want people you can depend on. And who can you depend on more than your own family? He knows I get fired if we don't win. He knows he gets fired if we don't win. I've got somebody I know I can depend on to be in there every day and working."

Is Jeff making that adjustment, starting to understand the nature of the criticism?

"He's getting close. He's like Terry. He's like Tommy. He's been around it all his life. He knows the pitfalls. He knows what I went through. He knows that I got the same criticism he's getting. That's the advantage of being a coach's son. You know that there's a bad son. Anybody that's not a coach's son, they might think that everything's good, and they'll get shocked."

Lee Corso and your son Terry have also been pretty critical of your quarterback and your offense.

"Those guys really do us a misfavor. They do us a misfavor. And yet, what they're saying is probably true. They're up there, broadcasting the game, and they say, 'I wouldn't have called that. That was a bad call. Everybody knows, don't do this. You should do that.' They make that statement, and everybody in the nation believes it. Well, the coach might have been trying to set something up. He might have said, 'I'm going to run this play, so I can set up my reverse, or I'm going to run this play to set up my pass.' It really opens up some games. Terry does it. It's just like I said the other day, I'm already getting where I don't like him. (laughs) The other day, it might have been on that radio show, somebody called and said, 'Terry Bowden said you couldn't win with Chris Rix, this year or next year.' And it caught me flabbergasted. I didn't know what to say. I was trying to think of something funny to say, and I couldn't think of nothing. I think I said -- I think another time, I said 'He don't know what he's talking about.' And I had to call Terry and apologize."

Have those comments strained Jeff and Terry's relationship?

"With each other? No. They know each other. Terry's got a job to do, and we know what that job is. Not to be a homer. You can't be a homer. Lee's the same way. Lee's a Florida State guy, loves Florida State, but he sure can't afford to show it. I've known Lee for years. I was the head coach at South Georgia College, 1955. I was 25. We played the Florida State freshmen, and Corso was the coach of the Florida State freshmen. That's where I first met him. I had heard of him, because I had visited Florida State. Some of my best friends played at Florida State. I was older than they were. I was coaching, they were still playing. I knew Corso through them. So in '55, I go to South Georgia College as a head coach, and Lee's the freshman coach at Florida State. We played 'em, and that was where I first got to meet him. I went to Samford, came back to here -- I just kind of kept up with him throughout the years. Then he went to Maryland with Tom Nugent, coached up there. I knew him there. I was offered the Louisville job back in 1968. I was an assistant coach at West Virginia, and I turned it down. Said 'I don't want it.' So he got that job. He and I talked a lot about that. Then he got the Indiana job, and we played against them. I played Indiana twice, when he was the head coach at Indiana. So I've always known Lee through the years."


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