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January 19, 2012

Bobby Bowden talks Battle of Florida and more

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Set to return to the sidelines as the head coach of the North team in the Battle for Florida All Star game on Saturday, former Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden discussed a number of topics with Warchant.com.

What have you been up to the past few years since retiring from coaching?

Bowden: I'm speaking now, anywhere from two to five times a week. All over the country, different groups, businesses, churches, FCA, prayer breakfasts, schools. A lot of it is fundraising. So I'm doing that.

Is it the same speech everywhere you go?

BB: "Yeah. One speech a thousand times. I've got about five talks that I carry around with me. They cover everything. Depends on who I'm speaking to."

Is it fun being back around the players again?

BB: Today is the first day I've been back with them and it's good to see a lot of them. A lot of these guys we played against, a lot of these guys were on our team. It's kind of fun seeing them. It'll be interesting (Friday); you know we had such a rivalry with the University of Miami.

Everybody talks about the Alabama-LSU series, which is a great series, but I don't know if there's been one like Florida State-Miami. That thing was hot for a while. So it's kind of good to get back and kind of get that flavor again, North vs. South. I'll be excited. They have all these assistant coaches that'll do all the coaching, but Howard (Schnellenberger) and I will kind of head it up.

Thinking back to all the promotions you and Howard did for that rivalry, this is really just like the old days isn't it?

BB: "It really is. Howard went to Miami in 1979, I went down in '76 and we played every year. He built the first national champion. Then we came in there next, then Florida came in there. Howard kind of set the tone, showed everybody it could be done."

Is it odd to you to see the Florida schools now not knocking on the door for national titles?

BB: Yes it is… but I really think Florida State is a little ahead of Florida and Miami right now, but they'll all be back. They're just too good of schools. They're just too good of schools to hold down. You've got to get the right guy. I believe Miami has the right guy, I think Florida's got the right guy, and I believe that Florida State's got the guy. To me they're all on their way back. You can not stay up there forever. It's hard to get there, but it's harder to stay there.

Do you think that was your biggest achievement, staying up there?

BB: I think it probably is. Of all the things that happened to us, the fact that we stayed up there so long probably was the biggest thing.

Is the talent in the state the reason you think all three schools will be back up there?

BB: No doubt about. Howard was just mentioning to me that were maybe 300 boys in this state with a 1A scholarship. He cant' sign but 20. Miami can't sign but 20, Florida can't sign but 20. Where are all them other 200 and something going? They're going all over the country. So the key is you've got to get the best ones. Who can get the best ones?

The talent in the state is also what makes this game possible right?

BB:When you get to look at this talent here. They're all from Florida and it just shows you the talent.

How would you characterize this part of you life? Are you going much harder than you thought you would?

BB: I'm retired from football, but not life. I don't want to do nothing. Sitting on the beach and going to bed early, I don't want to do that. So if I'm not speaking I'm playing golf, because that's the only exercise I get. Just speaking a lot.

Have you joined the Akron Zips booster club yet?

BB: No I'm not, but I'll be very interested in it.

Will you go up there for some games?

BB: Might be too far. I'll try to. I'd love to. I'm going to speak at (Terry's) clinic. I'm going to speak at the Auburn clinic, the Georgia clinic, the Akron clinic this spring. Last spring I got to Alabama, LSU, and Tennessee clinics. So I'm doing a lot of that, it kind of keeps me around football.

Terry certainly has a lot of familiar faces on his staff up Akron:

BB: "He was smart. Terry needed a good defensive coordinator, because Terry is offense, so he needed somebody who can lead his defense and Chuck Amato is about as good as you can get. Then Terrell Buckley…he went up there as the new secondary coach. Then Todd Stroud who played at Florida State and coached with me while I was there is going up there too. He'll have some homeboys."

Was coaching the next natural step for Buckley?

BB: Yeah when I was up there he stared off working with defensive backs with Mickey. Then I think when I left they changed the staff around and he stared working with the strength coach. He's too smart, he needs to be coaching the secondary. He is sharp, very good mind.

He's obviously a good guy for defensive backs to learn from...

BB: Definitely. Gosh he's got what two Super Bowl rings. Played for 13 or 14 years (in the NFL). He can really help somebody you know it.

Have you given any more thought to returning to Florida State for a game?

BB: I'm not interested right now. Eventually I will (be). I just always felt like it would be better if I stayed away from it while the other guy is breaking in. I've tried to spend more time in Alabama, that's my home. I went to the LSU-Alabama game, both of them. Then before I was at the Penn State-Alabama game, but I keep up with everything Florida State does.

Did you just walk into the LSU-Alabama game as a fan or where you up in booth?

BB: They offered me a booth but I wanted to sit in the stands. Because when I was kid my Dad used to take me down there to ball games. We were only 50 miles away. So at the Penn State game last year I sat up in a box. This year I said I wanted to sit in the stands. So I sat right up there all among students and families and everything else, but at the national championship game I sat in the box.

You've got a lot of former players of yours in this game, one being Bert Reed. Early in his career you had to sit him down in your office, how gratifying is it to see him make it all the way here having finished out his career at Florida State

BB: Oh yeah. See most guys come from broken homes. He had an older brother murdered in his front yard. These kids go through that and you can understand why they get in trouble. They've just been around it. Football can help them, because you have to be disciplined to play football. If they'll stick with it, it helps them. Bert is probably a good example of that.

The Dolphins are looking for a new coach, how close did you ever come to taking an NFL job?

BB: I had a couple opportunities that all I'd had to do was say yes. They were following me around everywhere I went… I think all I would have had to do was say yes on a couple jobs.

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