CLEMSON -- The Bowden family is as close to royalty as there is here in the
Bobby Bowden is the king of college football, and when you get right down to
it, in the Southeast that puts him up there with Elvis and Billy Graham.
Well, if Bobby is the king, then his son Tommy must feel something like
Prince Charles. Tommy feels that the only thing in his way of ascending to
the throne is his own parent. Tommy has been coaching for 24 years - in the
corporate world he would nearly qualify for an early retirement package -
and his dad shows no sign of hanging it up.
"I don't know why he would want to keep putting us through this torture,"
Bobby is 70 and by some reports merely a figurehead at Florida State. But
isn't that the way royalty works. Honestly, why would he give up the title
of king if his job is as easy as his son makes it out to be.
"His naps are getting longer," said Tommy. "That's the difference from last
year to this year."
Until Bowden retires, there's going to be a logjam at the top of the
Atlantic Coast Conference. Florida State is in charge and everyone else is
just playing for second.
"Until Daddy steps down and recruiting sinks, they will always be good,"
It's not that Tommy is giving up. If anything, this year's game between the
two will be more about football than last year. Last year, Bobby was going
for win No. 300, Peter Warrick's suspension was lifted just before the game
and it was the first game between father and son.
"This year it's in my backyard and it's a little different," said Bobby.
"It's not wise that we get too much about it being a Bowden thing. I tried
not to let that interfere with my players and team. At least that's not in
there this year."
What is this year's game about? It could have easily been two undefeated
teams, but suddenly, after Clemson's loss to Georgia Tech last Saturday and
an earlier loss by Florida State to Miami, it seems to be about Clemson's
fight for respect at a place where it hasn't scored a touchdown in 11 years.
"(The loss) took a little of the glamour off of it," said Bobby. "(The loss)
might give them just enough impetuous to go out and whip us or make a
greater game of it."
Tommy knows that just one thing will make a game out of it every year -- his
father's retirement, which he hopes will come sooner rather than later.
"I see him going two more years at the most," said Tommy "The biggest thing
would be Bear Bryant's record. Look, mother spends money like it's water.
He's pretty close to being financially secure. But that record looms big.
He's always been his idol. That was one of his dream jobs. Once that's done,
I think he'll retire."
In the meantime if Tommy wants to be the king, he'll have to carry a towel
around his neck and learn how to sing.