Sugar Delight

The Sugar Bowl matches SEC champion Georgia against ACC champ Florida State in New Orleans on Jan. 1. Of course, the Sugar Bowl has a nice storyline -- Georgia coach Mark Richt against his former boss, Bobby Bowden. The Bulldogs won their first SEC title in 20 years with a 30-3 victory over Arkansas on Saturday, while the 'Noles finished 9-4. Click here to read comments from both coaches. "Just about everything I've done has been in relation to how it was done at Florida State," Richt said.

How important will familiarity with each other be in preparing for the game? And do you think there's anything that either one of you can do that would surprise the other?

Bobby Bowden: "I was thinking about that today. Coach Richt and Mickey Andrews, my defensive coordinator, have been going at each other for 14 years down here. Scrimmaging, scrimmaging. Mark trying to beat Andrews. Andrews trying to stop Mark. So, they know each other pretty doggone good. That will be interesting. We better come up with a few different angles to offset that. I think we will both be looking for some changeups."

Mark Richt: "The thing about Florida State, certainly offensively, they've taken on a little different style lately because of the big linemen and the powerful backs that they have. And, of course, Florida State has always thrown the ball so well. They kind of gone to the run a little bit more this season than they've had in seasons past. And I am not quite sure what's going on in that offensive room any more. I don't know all of the things that might have been changed with Daryl Dickey coming in. I am a little bit familiar with what is going on but not as much as I used to be of course. Coach Andrews is. ... he's coach Andrews. He's really taught me more about how to compete than anybody I have ever been around. I know he's going to have those guys ready to go. It's going to be quite a battle."

What's it like going against your former coaches?

Bobby Bowden: "I am getting tired of it already. They are all beating me. Chuck (Amato) at N.C. State beat me twice. And the Mark, with a team that has just been dynamic this year. Makes us look like we don't belong. It's good I guess. It's kind of embarrassing to get beat by your boys."

Did you see the ABC selection show and your son Terry said he thought the pupil would teach the teacher something in this game. What did you think of that?

Bobby Bowden: "He's pretty smart, isn't he? (laughing). I did hear Terry when he made that comment. As you look at it, you would say that looks correct."

Can you talk about Mark Richt's calm demeanor?

Bobby Bowden: "You know what I think about when I see Mark and I see his success. I keep thinking of the 14 years here he was with me, if I just left him alone. I look back and said if I left that dadgum guy alone, we might have one five national championships. He just does a remarkable. ... I am just proud of him. I look at him, I look at Tommy, I look at Chuck, and those guys I worked with 15, 16, 17, 18 years, I am really proud of what they are doing. Again, I 've really been impressed with the job Mark has done. When an assistant coach becomes a head football coach, you do not know how they are going to work it out. You don't know if they are going to make it or not. I can't believe what he has done in two years."

Was this the matchup you anticipated?

Mark Richt: "We thought it might be Florida State but we really didn't know if we were going to be in the game unless we won. It wasn't until last night that we knew we were in the game. That was the thing that we were most concerned about, just getting there. Winning the conference championship. Twenty years is a long time. Even though we had so much success this year, if we would have lost last night, then it would have been 21 years and counting. That's what we were most concerned about."

How big was the win against Florida?

Bobby Bowden: "The Florida game was very big to us because going through what we went through that week, you didn't know what in the world to expect. All I knew was our kids were practicing good. I knew they seemed focused. I knew they seemed not distracted. And that game meant a whole lot to us, no doubt it. That's how I feel about that."

What does it say about your system to get Georgia back to the SEC title in two years?

Mark Richt: "As far as how our system has done in just a short time, it's really coach Bowden's system. Just about everything I've done has been in relation to how it was done at Florida State. Because that's just about the only place I've ever coached. It was a sound system, one that had produced a lot of great results. So that was my starting point. We've tinkered a little bit, one way or another, but we haven't strayed very far off the plan that coach Bowden had put together. So, am I surprised? I am not surprised because I knew Georgia had tremendous potential. We were three or four close games away from not even being close to this game. In our league, every game is precious and we're just fortunate to win close games."

What aspect of the game has most impressed you?

Mark Richt: "I think the biggest thing we did was play as a team and we had some great senior leadership."

The only other time a four-loss team played in the Sugar Bowl was 1945 was Alabama. Growing up in Birmingham, you probably remember that game they played against Duke?

Bobby Bowden: "Your not kidding. I can nearly repeat that game play by play because at that time, I was 14 years of age. I was the biggest Alabama fan in the world. The star of the Alabama team went to the same high school I did, he was four years ahead of me. I didn't know that until you just told me. That makes me feel good. They lost by three of four points (29-25). I don't know if that's a good sign or not. I remember."

Mark, you knew eventually you would play Florida State in a bowl game. You said you were glad this game didn't have national championship implications.

Mark Richt: "What I was saying, first of all, I felt like if we played Florida State in a bowl game it was gonna be a BCS bowl, because that's the only bowl games Florida State plays in. I was kind of looking forward to the opportunity to do that. And then I was saying if we are gonna play, it's probably best we are not playing for the national championship because I don't think I can enjoy that a whole lot. I am looking forward to spending time with coach Bowden and a lot of my friends that are on the coaching staff and hopefully getting a chance to see the players a little bit. If we were playing for everything, I don't know if we would have much times to talk or want to talk to each other."

Bobby Bowden: "True."

Were you surprised was this is the game you got? It also seems Florida State fans are more energized about playing a game against Georgia than possibly going somewhere else.

Bobby Bowden: "That could be true. I feel like our people will respond to New Orleans probably as good as any place we could have gone. Especially Georgia, because we have so many. ... our second biggest base of alumni I think is Atlanta. So, the fact we are playing Georgia I think will influence a lot of those people to come to that game and buy tickets. I think we are very excited about it. The only thing I felt kind of bad about us having four losses. Yet, that's the way the system works and we did win the conference so that's where we go. I just hope we can make a good showing."


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