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Bowden and Richt go way back

Georgia will play Florida State in the Jan. 1 Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, and the obvious compelling story of the game will be Richt, the Seminoles' former long-time offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, against Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

As reward for guiding Georgia to its first Southeastern Conference championship in 20 years, Mark Richt Sunday was assigned a postseason matchup against his coaching mentor.


Georgia will play Florida State in the Jan. 1 Nokia Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, and the obvious compelling story of the game will be Richt, the Seminoles' former long-time offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, against Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

On the Bowl Championship Series telecast Sunday, ABC's Terry Bowden assigned
his father the underdog role when he said: "I think the pupil is going to teach the teacher something in this game.''

In only his second season as Georgia's head coach, Richt has taken the Bulldogs to a 12-1 season, matching the school record for wins set in 1980 - and the long-awaited SEC championship with Saturday night's 30-3 victory over Arkansas.

Now, with many of his former recruits playing key roles in the Florida State offense and many of his friends on the Seminoles' staff, Richt said Sunday "I'm excited about getting to see some old friends.''

Said Richt, who spent 14 years on the Florida State staff: "I spent a lot of my life there and certainly the great majority of my coaching career there. My mentor there is Bobby Bowden and almost certainly everything I learned about coaching and handling players and people in general I learned from him and learned at Florida State.''

While Richt is looking forward to seeing his old friends, he says he is glad he does not have to face Bowden with more on the line. The Ohio State-Miami Fiesta Bowl will decide the national championship, so there won't be that pressure on the Sugar Bowl.

"If we were playing for everything, I don't know if we'd have much time to talk or want to talk to each other,'' Richt said in a Sugar Bowl teleconference.

Added Bowden: "True.''

The bowl sets up the first Georgia-Florida State game since the teams tied 17-17 in the 1984 Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Overall, Georgia leads the series 5-4-1, but before the 1984 game, the teams had not played since 1965.

Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan said he was "absolutely satisfied'' with the pairing, though Florida State (9-4), the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, is the first BCS team with four losses.

Said Bowden, apparently comfortable with the underdog role: "It's kind of unfair for Georgia to come in 12-1 and us to have those four losses. ... I just hope we can make a good showing.''

Added Bowden, when asked about his son's nationally televised prediction: "(Terry) is pretty smart, isn't he. ... I did hear Terry when he made that comment that the student is going to beat the teacher. As you look at it, it looks correct. I can't say much past that.''

Said Richt: (Terry) is just setting (the Sugar Bowl) up.''

Bowden's team came within a missed field goal of beating Miami, and it finished its regular season with a 31-14 win over a Florida team that gave Georgia its only loss.

According to Richt, Florida State's games against Miami and Florida should be enough to earn the respect of the Bulldogs.

The 72-year-old Bowden has made no mention of retirement plans, but already Richt has been asked if he would have interest in a return to Tallahassee as Bowden's successor. The question came up again Sunday and surely will follow Richt to New Orleans.

"I'm sure people will ask,'' Richt said. "They ask it all the time. We're very, very happy at Georgia. This is our home. We couldn't be more happy with what's gone on with our lives since we've gotten here.''

Added Richt, also speaking for his wife: "Katharyn and I said it when we got here, this is it for us and as long as Georgia wants us this is where we want to be.''

NOTES: Georgia players have to prepare for fall semester final exams Dec. 10-17th, and so Georgia will not return to the practice fields until Dec. 17 or Dec. 18. Richt said he plans for "a lot of recruiting and a couple of speaking engagements'' and will begin studying tape of Florida State in the next week. ... Richt said there were no injuries reported after the win over
Arkansas.


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