By BRIAN LANDMAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 8, 2001
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden's usual practice spot is high up in the tower that overlooks all the fields.
He will be there again when the full squad begins two-a-day sessions Saturday but not merely to watch the offense and defense.
Bowden, like every high school, college and professional coach , is in the position of trying to keep an eye on how each player is doing health-wise.
Since FSU freshman linebacker Devaughn Darling died after a strenuous offseason workout in February, Florida freshman Eraste Autin and Minnesota Vikings All-Pro Korey Stringer died from heatstroke. Northwestern's Rashidi Wheeler, an asthmatic, also died after a recent conditioning workout.
"The biggest difference is going to be the diligence in watching them, seeing if anybody is struggling, seeing if there's any symptoms of abnormality," Bowden said.
After meeting with his assistants, training staff and athletic director Dave Hart, Bowden said he plans to tweak the daily practice regimen.
"We'll probably have more (designated) water breaks," said Bowden, who historically had one set break, depending on the heat and humidity, halfway through a two-hour practice.
Hart added there likely will be changes in where the water will be stationed, which is something FSU has "constantly and annually evaluated because of the obvious, we're in Florida."
To escape the hottest, stickiest time of the day, Bowden decided last year to move up the start of the morning practice one hour, to 8:30, and delayed the start of the afternoon practice one hour, to 5. He will keep that schedule again.
Normally, the coaches receive a crash course on heat exhaustion and heatstroke from the medical staff and trainer Randy Oravetz and then would pass along the information and warnings to the players before the first practice. From there, monitoring fell upon the players and the trainers.
"Now, you're going to have more coaches involved in looking for signs, too," Bowden said. "And we'll continually talk to the kids about taking the correct proportions of salt with their food and then, drinking water, drinking water, drinking water. There's going to be a lot of that going on.
"Of course, it was tough enough to lose a kid; that will get your attention quick. Then before the season even starts, to have those guys pass away. That really magnifies it. It's really got us all concerned."