Bowden doesn't see retirement looming

Published November 11, 2004

TALLAHASSEE - Florida State coach Bobby Bowden doesn't dwell much on numbers.

Not 349 - his Division I-leading win total.

Not 75 - his age as of Nov. 8.

Nor does Bowden have a magic number in mind when he might finally retire.

"If I feel good, I'd rather do it (coaching) than anything else," he said, an answer that hasn't changed in years. "I know this, at my age, I've got to win a lot of games. They're not going to put up with it. "I'm already too old,' that's what they're saying."

They? Some fans who were raised on FSU's unprecedented streak of 14 consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins and Top 5 finishes (1987-2000). They now know something else, four consecutive seasons that have fallen well short of that lofty standard.

He has watched, with no joy, as his friend and contemporary Joe Paterno has struggled in recent years. With each loss, the whispers for JoPa to go grow louder.

Bowden, who said Paterno has earned the right to decide when he should retire, said that it's easy, almost unavoidable not to be optimistic about one's own club and chances for a championship run.

"Maybe I am right now," he said. "Boxers or baseball players, they always want to play two more years."

He's also influenced by seeing that his coaching idol, Paul "Bear" Bryant, died shortly after he retired and his own father, Bob Pearce Bowden, died within a year after he retired.

"It doesn't scare me but I do keep that in mind," he said.

But if his teams continue to win enough (he won't set a number there, either), his health remains good and wife Ann doesn't finally say she's had it ("Ann's pretty daggum competitive herself."), he's not going anywhere any time soon.

"I wonder if one day something will hit me in the head and say, "I don't want to coach no more,' " he said. "I've never had that day. Will it come next year? Two years? Five years? I don't know."

QUICK START: The Seminoles have struggled to win on the road this season and one reason can be traced to their inability to find the end zone early. In their four road games (Miami, Syracuse, Wake Forest and Maryland), they have failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first half.

That hasn't allowed FSU to neutralize the crowd. The louder it is, the more inspired the home team is and the harder it is for the FSU offense to communicate.

"It ain't like it used to be," Bowden said. "It's not a library anymore. There's wild people up there in the stands and none of them are for you."

A CRITICAL HALF: Down 2-0 at halftime last week against Clemson in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals, the women's soccer team responded with a 45-minute performance it hopes will change its postseason prospects.

FSU rallied to tie the game on goals by midfielder Teresa Rivera and defender Kelly Rowland. Although Clemson advanced in a penalty-kick shootout, the Seminoles looked more like the team that reached the national semifinals in 2003.

"During halftime, we were all looking at each other for answers," said Rowland, who along with her teammates had blown a 2-0 halftime lead and lost 3-2 to Central Florida just days earlier. "We went out there and just showed our competitiveness and that competitive fire that we've been missing since last year."

Now, the key is to carry that attitude to Gainesville for the NCAA Tournament opener against Boston College on Friday. THE LONG RUN: The men's cross country team looks to make history Saturday by winning an NCAA region for the first time. "Through four runners, we're the best team clearly," coach Bob Braman said. "The question is, are we healthy enough or deep enough?"

Sean Burris, a transfer from USF, has been slowed by a knee injury, while Kevin Cook, bothered by an arch problem, is likely to be held out of the race. But Michael Walsh has been training well and could make an impact.

Times staff writer Brian Landman covers Florida State. Reach him at 813 226-3347 or landman@sptimes.com