If your favorite Indian is a Seminole, you've probably had it with Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who has lost six straight to Florida. Not that you don't credit him with considerable improvement in the Seminoles' lot. In the last 11 seasons, Bowden's teams have achieved a 90-36-3 record and made eight bowl appearances, a remarkable performance at a school that was 4-29 for the three seasons before he arrived. And should anyone ask Bowden what he has done for State lately, he can point to a 27-13 victory over Indiana in the All-America Bowl.
This spring Bowden excused his seven fifth-year seniors from all contact drills as a reward for surviving four previous spring practices—"I just hope they don't get fat and spoiled," Bowden says, "but I think they deserve to stay out of the hitting. It gives the younger guys a chance to get more work." He also permitted three other prominent players to miss practice: Deion Sanders, Victor Floyd and Ronald Lewis at times made up the Seminole outfield.
The Seminoles have 42 of their top 50 players from last season, and among them are the ones they need the most to continue what they do best: air the ball out. Start with 6'3", 300-pound offensive lineman Pat Tomberlin, who keeps the sackers at bay. Senior Danny McManus won the quarterback job last season, but if he falters the 'Noles won't suffer under sub Chip Ferguson. The targets should be familiar also, because 14 different players who spent lots of time in the backfield and at wide receiver—Sammie Smith and the aptly named Herb Gainer are the best—return as well. Fact is, unless you were a big fan of a departed reserve fullback named Tanner Holloman, you have to feel pretty good about the returning cast.
Bowden is vainly trying to contain the optimism in Tallahassee. Of State's '86 6-4-1 season, he says, "If we were all that good, we wouldn't have lost four and tied one. We've got the same players."
But they are a year older, and they don't have the same schedule. It's a Weight Watchers menu, including Texas Tech, East Carolina, Memphis State, Southern Mississippi, Louisville, Tulane and Furman. Michigan State, Miami and Auburn will provide the gristle. In the Seminoles' publicity office the euphemism is an "apparently more manageable" schedule, but in more plainspoken precincts it might be said that Florida State has an easy seven wins. Anything less will constitute disappointment—unless the Seminoles finally go on the warpath against Florida.
While looking to pass, McManus will also have to look over his shoulder at Ferguson.