Clemson University

Bowden Bowl no more

It will be the first time in nine years that Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, left, will not face his son Tommy Bowden when the Seminoles meet the Tigers this Saturday.
It will be the first time in nine years that Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, left, will not face his son Tommy Bowden when the Seminoles meet the Tigers this Saturday.

CLEMSON -- The night Dabo Swinney was appointed Clemson's interim coach, he received a phone call from a Bowden -- just not the one he would have predicted.

Terry Bowden, college football analyst and the younger brother for departed Tigers coach Tommy Bowden, left Swinney a voice mail letting him know all the Bowdens were pulling for him.

"(It was) one of the things that probably meant the most to me," Swinney said.

In as much because for the first time in a decade, Clemson's divisional showdown with No. 24 Florida State will be without its marquee storyline.

Bowden's pre-emptive resignation Oct. 13 occurred two games before the 10th annual Bowden Bowl, which would have once again pit his Tigers against poppa Bobby Bowden's Seminoles.

Tommy's son and daughter, both Clemson graduates, will still be going to see their grandparents in Tallahassee, Fla., this week before Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game.

But Tommy, who has spent most of his time since the resignation at the family's vacation spot in Panama City, Fla., has said he plans to go tailgate at his alma mater, West Virginia, before its 7 p.m. game against Cincinnati.

A little bit of relief

Bobby will be celebrating his 79th birthday Saturday as well, and his most erstwhile gift might be the relief his wife, Ann, experiences from not having to sympathize for the losing party.

Especially considering that losses in recent years had ratcheted speculation about both Tommy's and Bobby's job security.

"It was getting where Ann .... she got so tired of (it)," Bobby told reporters Sunday. "She can't win. She's got a lot of pride. She wants me to win, and she wants Tommy to win. She wants Terry and Jeffrey and all of them to win. With Tommy and I playing, she can't win. One of us is going to have to get beat.

"Of course, I didn't like it either. I didn't like it when he beats me. And when I beat him, I feel for him. So, I am so happy. This is the first time in 10 years I don't have to worry about Tommy being on the other side whipping me or me whipping him."

If there was anyone relieved Tommy and former offensive coordinator Rob Spence are gone, it should be Bobby.

After dropping the first four Bowden Bowls, Tommy was 4-1 in the last five, with triumphs in each of the last three with Spence at the offensive helm.

In all three, an unranked Clemson team beat a ranked FSU squad, although the margin of victory has progressively dwindled (35-14 in 2005, 27-20 in 2006 and 24-18 last season).

Without prompting, Bobby suggested there was no chance Tommy would offer a scouting report on the Tigers, nor would Bobby request one.

"Tommy wouldn't dare try to spill the beans on them to me," Bobby Bowden said. "Those are his kids. You know he recruited those kids, and he'll pull for those kids.

"Will he pull for them against me? Probably. Just to show he's a good recruiter. He wouldn't dare come by here. I wouldn't even ask him to sit down with me to say: 'Oh man, this guy's got this weakness, this guy's got that weakness.'

"He left there on a good note as far as he was concerned. He wished he could have made them happy. So, I have no animosity toward them."

Swinney said he expects to talk with Tommy several times this week, but he figures the situation might be more awkward for himself.

"One thing about coach Bowden, he has great perspective and has been in football all his life," Swinney said. "He's a hard guy to get down. He bounces back quick.

"Hopefully, he'll be pulling for us and not his daddy. I don't know if we'll ever know the answer to that one. I know I'd be pulling for my daddy."


• Who: Clemson Tigers (4-4 overall, 2-3 ACC) at Florida State Seminoles (6-2, 3-2)

• Time: 3:30 p.m.

• TV: ABC (Comporium cable channel 4 in Rock Hill)

• Radio: WRHI-AM (1340)