Happy Birthday

Florida State coach <b>Bobby Bowden</b> turns 75 today. The NCAA's all-time winningest coach in Division I history remains blessed with good health and a competitive spirit. While there are some who would like to see Bowden march into the sunset, Bowden once again stressed he wants to continue to coach as long as his health remains sound and he continues to win. Back in the ACC race following Clemson's upset victory at Miami, Bowden and the Seminoles are at North Carolina State on Thursday.

At 75,Bobby Bowden is in the twilight of his coaching career.

But that's okay.

Timing is everything, and Bowden once again stressed he wants to remain on Florida State's sidelines as long as his health remains good and he continues to win.

Bowden's health is good. And he does continue to win -- although he admits some fans may think it's not enough.

"Well, I wonder what I'm doing here. I never thought I coach at this age. It seems strange," Bowden admitted.

"I know this. At my age, I have to win a lot of games...I don't think people are going to put up with it. I'm already too old, that's what they are saying."

Bowden, the all-time winningest coach in Division I history, turned 75 today. FSU, which one week ago appeared out of the Atlantic Coast Conference race, suddenly is very much alive.

The Seminoles (7-2 overall, 5-2 in the ACC) benefited from Miami's loss to Clemson on Saturday, moving up one spot in the standings behind co-leaders Virginia and Virginia Tech, both 4-1.

With Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech involved in a round-robin — starting with the Hurricanes' game Saturday at Virginia — FSU is hoping for the right combination to forge a three-way tie and then to come out ahead in the complicated tiebreaking rules.

The winner of the conference likely will wind up in the Fiesta Bowl against Utah, if the Utes finish unbeaten.

FSU, meanwhile, continues its preparations for Thursday night's game at North Carolina State. The Seminoles held a light practice on Sunday night, and return to the practice fields today.

At some point, the team will sing "Happy Birthday" to coach Bowden. Players continue to be amazed by Bowden's energy.

"As people get up in that age range, they start losing their mental edge," sophomore quarterback Wyatt Sexton said.

"But, with (coach), you can really catch his sharpness, his keenness. He definitely doesn't look like a 75-year-old guy. He definitely has a youthful appearance as well."

Bowden says he has never felt better, though he continues to fight his cravings for sweets after being diagnosed with Diabetes II. Bowden takes daily naps and continues to exercise.

"I've never (felt) a break in my health. I've never felt like, 'Boy I felt good until I was 70 Or I felt good until I was 65,' " Bowden said.

"I never felt a break. I couldn't tell a difference now than a year ago, or five years ago, or 10 years ago. I sure ain't going to no doctor where they could tell me something is wrong."

Bowden also said he would retire if wife Ann pressed the issue, but she has not. A few years ago, Ann did mention that if she had to pick a time for her husband to step down, she thought age 75 would be ideal.

"...if she did (want Bowden to retire), I'd probably really have to get out," Bowden said. "If Ann really said, 'Hey, I've had enough of this' ....I couldn't stay in it. Ann's pretty dadgum competitive herself."

Bowden, of course, remains loyal to his staff and continues to defend the performance of son Jeff Bowden as the Seminoles' offensive coordinator.

In FSU's victory over Duke on Saturday, the Seminoles struggled in the red zone early and had to settle for three field goals from first-time starter Gary Cismesia.

"Whoever has that job is going to catch it," Bowden said.

"I think all they do is use the same signs that (Mark) Richt had, strikes his name out and when he leaves, they'll strike it out and put the next guy.

"It's always been like that. We've always lost to Miami. When we got that dynasty going, there were times we lost two, but we always won 10. The trend is becoming you lose to Miami and someone upsets you. Only one time we went undefeated. Right now, we lose to Miami in overtime, we lose to Maryland had a chance to beat 'em."

Bowden, meanwhile, also knows he's not going to coach forever. He jokes there's only one thing left after retirement -- and it has nothing to do with living.

Bowden also remembers his coaching hero Bear Bryant passed away soon after retiring. He also tells his own story of his father, Bob Pearce Bowden, who spent his entire life as a bank teller and then a Realtor.

Mr. Bowden built houses until he was 64. He suffered a stroke six months later and was dead within five more months. Bobby Bowden was 40 years old, and had just been named the head coach at West Virginia.

Bobby Bowden believes his dying father heard his son's whispers that day.

"I told him I got job at West Virignia. I think he heard what I said. He couldn't make any respons," Bowden said.

Bobby Bowden loves life. He loves coaching. He loves recruiting, though he jokes opponents have used his age against him for the past 10 years.

Retirement isn't in the picture -- yet.

"I enjoy it as much as ever," Bowden said.

"If I feel good, I'd rather do it than anything else. As long as I can win enough darn ballgames, and stay healthy. I guess...I don't know, I guess one day something will hit me in the head and say, 'I don't want to coach anymore.' I've never had that day. Will it come next year? Two years, five years? I don't know."


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