© St. Petersburg Times, published October 14, 2002
Coach Bobby Bowden doesn't put much stock in moral victories.
"I'm one of those guys who'd rather have an ugly win than a beautiful loss," he said Sunday. "A loss is a loss."
Still, he said he and his players should take something positive from Saturday's 28-27 loss to top-ranked Miami in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles were prohibitive underdogs, but seemingly were poised to defy the odds and re-establish themselves as national title contenders.
Their offensive line dominated UM's talent-laden and deep defensive front, helping the Seminoles take a 13-point lead in the fourth. UM rallied, then the Seminoles' last-second field goal hooked wide left.
"One thing that did come out of this game, we didn't win, but we thought we were about as good as they were," Bowden said. "At least that's something to build on."
Perhaps that's why many in the FSU locker room were more angry than hurt.
"We should have won this game. That's just a fact," defensive end Alonzo Jackson said. "They know it. We know it. Everybody who watched the game knows it."
"If these guys are No. 1 in the country," quarterback Chris Rix said, "we're pretty close."
CONSOLING HIS KICKER: Bowden said he didn't get to talk to placekicker Xavier Beitia until they reached the Miami airport and did his best to console the 19-year-old sophomore who played at Jesuit High. Not that he expected to.
"There's not much you can say," Bowden said. "You can say everything you want to him, but as soon as you get through talking, he's thinking, 'I missed the kick. I missed the kick.' ... "It's like trying to talk to me after a loss and think you helped my feelings. It don't. It's just something he has to go through."
Unlike other kickers who didn't handle their last-minute misses against Miami well, Bowden said he expects Beitia to rebound nicely.
"You and I have both seen it wreck some other people, but he's got too much confidence in himself," he said.
"I think he is smart enough and conscientious enough and tough enough to get overcome this thing."
MOORE UPDATE: Defensive end Eric Moore had an appendectomy Saturday and, even with advanced medical procedures that significantly shorten recovery time, Bowden said he might miss the Notre Dame game on Oct. 26.
In his place, Willie Jones saw his first significant action and had two quarterback hurries.
DID YOU KNOW?: The last time an FSU quarterback threw for fewer yards than Rix's 83 against Miami was in 1996. Thad Busby, in his first year as starter, completed 9-of-17 for 75 yards.
THE LAST WORD: "When you get bit by a snake seven, eight times, you get immune to it. At least that's what they tell me. I've never had the first bite, but I look at Animal Kingdom, my favorite program, or National Geographic, and I see this guy handling these snakes and he says, 'Well I've been bit 60 times and I'm immune to it.' I guess that's the way we are on wide rights and lefts. I'm kind of immune. It ain't like that first one (Gerry Thomas in 1991). That first one nearly killed me, but I'm immune to it now." -- Bowden on losing another heartbreaker to Miami.