Heading into Monday's opener, the Florida State coach was second on the careerwins list with 382, two behind Penn State's Joe Paterno
DP: What makes youfeel young?
BB: I'm old. I'm79, but I feel 55. I think the whole thing is if you're healthy; and I enjoydoing what I'm doing.
DP: Do you coachdifferently at 79 than at 55?
BB: You delegateresponsibility more. I've got a darn good staff, and I think the key to it is,leave them alone. People think the head coach is the coach. Ninety-five percentof the time they're mistaken. The head coach, his job is to solve problems.
DP: So, are you agood problem solver?
BB: [Laughs.]Depends what the problem is. Sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not. I haven'tsolved that NCAA thing, I'll tell you that. [Sixty-one Florida State athletesin 10 sports, including football, were found to have committed academic fraud,and Bowden is appealing an NCAA ruling that could cause him to be stripped of14 wins from 2006 and '07.]
DP: How importantare those wins to you?
BB: It's tough tocoach for 55 years and never have been involved in cheating, and all of thesudden 14 of your games are taken away. It doesn't seem right. We did the rightthing, Dan. We're the ones who spotted it, not [the NCAA]. We did all of theirwork for them and turned ourselves in. And we fired the people that wereresponsible. We gave all of [the players] F's, suspended them for four games,took away scholarships. How much do you need to do?
DP: Have you heardfrom Joe Paterno during all of this?
BB: No. Joe hasdefended me, and I would defend him. It's funny, Joe and I are together atabout five things every year, and we haven't discussed [the career wins race]yet. We haven't mentioned it. I don't think Joe pays a bit of attention to it.I keep up with it because people are always reminding me. You know, Dan, we'reSoutherners. We lost that war, right? We're looking for prestige. [Laughs.] Joedoesn't need any prestige. He won the dadgum war. You can't believe how manyletters I get from people in Alabama. But I'll be honest with you—I'd beshocked if Joe doesn't end up with more wins.
DP: Will we see anundefeated national champ this year?
BB: Florida's gota heck of a chance. But you know, somebody's always going to get you.
DP: If I had saidwhen you were 55 that there was going to be a player like Tim Tebow, would youhave believed me?
BB: I'd have said,yeah, because we had Charlie Ward, and he was the same guy.
DP: Was Wardbetter than Tebow?
BB: Somebody[asked me] and I got quoted wrong. "Is Tebow the best quarterbackever?" they said. And I answered that question with a question: Can he runbetter than Charlie? Can he throw better than Charlie? And Charlie punted.
DP: How many gamesdid you lose with Charlie?
BB: We lost oneeach year. He only started two years for us. But a field goal—wide right[against Miami in 1992]—probably cost us one national championship.
DP: Do you everjoke about wide right? Does your wife ever make jokes about it?
BB: I swear, you'dthink I invented wide right. If I'm playing golf and I miss a putt to theright, someone will say, "Wide right! Wide right!"
A Good Loss
Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas was with the Bills when they lost four straightSuper Bowls. He had an interesting perspective on what might have beendifferent if they had won their first one, Super Bowl XXV against the Giants."If we had won, I don't think we would've gotten back to the followingthree," he told me. "People would've asked for more money, and the teamprobably wouldn't have been able to stay together."
Give 'Em Away
Last year only nine NFL games were blacked out because of low ticket sales.This year at least a dozen teams are facing blackouts. So here's a thought forthe NFL: Make a goodwill gesture by giving the unsold seats to youth groups andrelax the blackout restrictions. That will get the games on TV, put people instadiums in a troubled economic climate and, most important, cultivate along-term relationship with your future fan base.
Line of theweek
Infielder Aaron Boone returned to the Astros after missing five monthsfollowing open-heart surgery and says his ticker isn't a concern: "Myissues are being off for a while, being 36 and having four knee operations.From a cardiovascular standpoint, I feel good to go and have a clean bill ofhealth."
Now Hear This
Listen to thepodcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Mitch Williams on his ill-fated '93 showdown with Joe Carter.
2. Warren Sapp picks the best conference in college football.
THE FINE PRINT:Brett Favre was fined $10,000 for a crackback block. Shocking he would know howto do something that could actually end a career.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
CLIFF WELCH/ICON SMI (BOWDEN)
RICHARD MACKSON (THOMAS)
BOB LEVEY/ICON SMI (BOONE)